Dino’s Trials

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Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) should be congratulated. The move to recall him ended anticlimactically.  Not only did the petitioners fail, the result of the verification of signatories to the recall petition by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) showed that the attempt was unpopular. INEC said only 18, 762 signatures were genuine, though there were 188, 500 signatories. INEC’s presiding officer for the verification, Prof. Okente Morthy of the University of Abuja, said the number of genuine signatures fell short of the number required.

An April 30 report said: “The genuine signatories represent a dismal 5.34 per cent of the total signatories to the petition, which fell short of 51 per cent or 98,364 signatures required for the petition to sail through. It was observed that the verification failed largely due to fictitious and forged signatures and names of dead persons affixed to the recall petition by its promoters.”

It is noteworthy that before the verification Senator Melaye had alleged that there were forged signatures in the recall petition.  Melaye had reportedly said through one of his legislative aides, Malam Abubakar Sadiq: “Let me also say authoritatively that here in Lokoja Local Government Council, several others whose names and signatures appeared on the list of the signatories to this failed exercise were identified and known to us as being dead long before now. Such people like late Abdullahi Abubakar, his immediate younger sister late Halima Lawal Abubakar and Ibrahim Adama of Unit Code 021, Adankolo Ring Road in Ward ‘A’, Lokoja Local Government Council.”

Whether Melaye’s forgery claims were correct or incorrect, whether the petitioners were verifiable or unverifiable, there is a time to prove or disprove, and there is a lawful body in charge of verification. Now that INEC has exposed fictitious and forged signatures and names of dead persons in the recall petition, it is time to find out what happened.

Some of Melaye’s constituents had submitted a petition to recall the senator to INEC’s headquarters in Abuja in June 2017.  A report said: “One Mr. Cornelius Olowo led the petitioners to submit the recall petition which alleged poor representation as one of the reasons for the move to recall Melaye.”

It is interesting that Kogi State Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Haddy Ametuo, was quoted as saying that “some ghosts” initiated the recall process against Senator Melaye. So, the police should be looking for the “ghosts” in this plot, including ghost petitioners and ghost forgers.

Talking of ghosts, Melaye acted in a drama that reminded the public of ghosts. There were no ghosts, but there could have been because of Melaye’s overdramatic performance.  What really happened? Police spokesman Jimoh Moshood, in a statement, said on April 24: “At about 1200Hrs of today Sen. Dino Melaye while in lawful custody of the Nigeria Police Force and being taken for arraignment in Federal High Court, Lokoja from Abuja, escaped from lawful custody when hoodlums and miscreants in two Toyota Hilux vehicles blocked the police vehicle conveying Senator Dino Melaye around Area 1 Roundabout, Abuja.”

He added: “In the process, the senator jumped out of the police vehicle through the window and was rescued from the policemen by hoodlums and miscreants to an unknown destination. The Police team reinforced and trailed Senator Dino Melaye to Zankli Hospital, Abuja where he was re-arrested.”

That is one version of what happened. Melaye’s Special Adviser Gideon Ayodele gave the public another version: “Contrary to online reports about jumping out of a moving police vehicle; Nothing could be farther from the truth as such insinuation is practically impossible for a man sandwiched between gun-wielding policemen. Today’s incident was a last resort by Senator Dino Melaye in order to foil attempt to kidnap him and kill him by agents of Kogi State governor in connivance with the police.”

Did Melaye jump out of the police vehicle? If he did, such a move was unbecoming of a senator.    If he didn’t, what did he do?  Why did he need to get treatment at the private hospital?  After he was re-arrested at the Zankli Hospital, he was moved to the National Hospital, Abuja, where the police reportedly handcuffed him to a bed.

Melaye had been declared wanted by the police after he allegedly ignored their invitation to answer allegations made against him by two suspected criminals, Kabiru Seidu, aka Osama, and Nuhu Salihu, aka Small.  Saidu and Salisu had allegedly confessed that they had worked as political thugs for Alhaji Mohammed Audu who allegedly invited them to Abuja, where they were introduced to Melaye in December 2017. They also allegedly confessed that Melaye had given them a bag containing one AK47 rifle, two Pump Action guns and N430, 000.

These allegations against Melaye are weighty, and he should be trying to prove his innocence rather than allegedly trying to run away from the police.  The drama of his alleged attempt to escape from the police has not helped matters. Does he expect the public to believe his story that his life would be in danger if the police took him to Lokoja?  When will he stop being overdramatic?

On May 5, the drama developed as a Kogi State High Court sitting in Lokoja ordered that Senator Melaye “be kept at the National Hospital, Abuja under the custody and close watch and supervision of the complainant, the Inspector General of Police.” The Chief Judge of Kogi State, Justice Nasir Ajanah, who gave the interim order, said the application for the bail, in the case, would be heard on May 7.

It is noteworthy that Melaye had been remanded in police custody until June 11 by Mr. Sulyman Abdullah of the Lokoja Senior Magistrates’ Court before the order by Justice Ajanah.  The senator was arraigned along with Kabiru Seidu, aka Osama, and Nuhu Salihu, aka Small. They were charged with criminal conspiracy, illegal possession of firearms and illegal gun-running.

It remains to be seen what will happen as the trial progresses. There is likely to be more drama and more stunts.


Credit: The Nation

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