Alleged False Information: Court Adjourns Case against Melaye Indefinitely

Alex Enumah in Abuja

Citing medical condition, Justice Olasunbo Goodluck of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, Thursday adjourned indefinitely the trial of Senator Dino Melaye over alleged false report.

Melaye is facing a two-count charge of given false information to the Nigerian Police Force as well as falsely accusing the Chief of Staff to the Kogi State governor, Edward Onoja David, of  trying to assassinate him.  

Melaye, who represents Kogi West Senatorial District at the National Assembly, was hospitalised following injuries he sustained when he was reportedly jumped out of a moving police vehicle conveying him to Lokoja, Kogi State in April. 

At the resumed trial, Justice Goodluck had asked the defense lawyer, Rickey Tarfa SAN, to provide explanation on Melaye’s absence in court.

Responding, Tarfa, provided a medical report from the National Hospital,  Abuja indicating that Senator Melaye is in a critical condition and is currently under intensive care.

Reacting to the medical report, prosecution counsel, Shuaibu Labaran, questioned the admissibility of the said medical report. 

According to Mr Labaran, the medical report admitted before the court was sourced from a piece of evidence tendered at the Kogi State High Court, in the case of illegal distribution of arms, brought against Mr Melaye.

Mr Labaran argued that the medical report signed by a doctor identified as Olaomi OO. from the National Hospital was not obtained directly from lawyers in the matter before the FCT High Court.

He asked the court to hold that the failure of the defence to certify the photocopied medical report rendered the report officially defective. 

“It is our further submission that exhibit b and c are duplicate copies of the supposed medical report emanating from the National Hospital, which the defence placed heavy reliance on to convince this court as to the justification behind the absence of the defendant in this case. 

“Assuming the document emanated from the National Hospital Abuja, it has become a public document which requires certification.

“Our objection is that it has no bearing with the document of this court”, he submitted.

Labaran alleged that the information contained in the medical report were largely subject of speculations by the deponent to the said medical report.

Responding to a statement made by the judge that the same medical report had indicated that the defendant was currently being held at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Labaran pledged to suspend his objection once he sees the paragraph where the word: ICU was mentioned. 

“Alright read the last paragraph,” said the judge.

After reading through the said paragraph however: Mr Labaran noted that: “I have seen the ICU.” He however denied pledging to suspend his objection, as earlier stated. His action triggered laughter in the court.

Delivering the ruling, the court held that based on the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA) the medical report is admissible and could be considered by the court. 

Justice Goodluck therefore adjourned the matter indefinitely.

“This court is of the view that it can adjourn this matter sine-die until the medical condition of the defendant is reported to have improved,” the court ruled.