The political drama in Kogi State involving Governor Yahaya Bello, Senator Dino Melaye and the police assumed an uglier dimension of accusations and counter accusations last week, making the state look like the theatre of the absurd. The drama climaxed when some suspects that had named Senator Dino Melaye as the man who supplied them with arms and money, sensationally escaped from police custody the night before they were to appear in court.
According to Nigeria Police spokesman ACP Jimoh Moshood, the suspects Kabiru Seidu and Nuhu Salisu indicted Senator Melaye and Mohammed Audu in a case of conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms already filed at the Federal High Court, Lokoja. Six suspects escaped including these two. The escape saga was preceded by others such as the attempt to recall Senator Melaye, said to be orchestrated by the governor and the attack on Melaye in his constituency where he said assassins were to kill him. Then the police recently said he gave false information.
On his part Melaye accused Governor Yahaya Bello of illegal importation of restricted military gadgets as well as introducing state police. The latest twist in this drama was the escape of these suspects that fingered Melaye. Their escape from custody is shocking, to say the least, and it shows the length politicians and other people with influence can go to connive with security agents to aid criminals. Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris promptly removed Kogi State Commissioner of Police Ali Janga, commendable action. Janga was replaced by Esa Sunday Ogbu, who was Commissioner of Police, Federal Operations at Force Headquarters, Abuja.
The police spokesman said those implicated for negligence, dereliction of duty and gross misconduct in the six suspects’ escape were also transferred out of the state and would face disciplinary action. The former Kogi State Compol Ali Janga explained shortly before his removal that there was “connivance” by twelve policemen who were on guard duty at the time of the escape. He said, “We had about twelve policemen on guard duty. Five SARS operatives and seven conventional policemen have been rounded up and will be investigated. I was there myself; the padlock of the exhibit room through which the suspects escaped was opened. And they used hammers, nail cutter and shovel to hit the iron bar of the window and bent it and removed one of the blocks.”
He added, “And we have two of our SARS policemen behind the cell. Three of them were in the front of the cell apart from our conventional policemen that were doing their duties in the charge room. I seriously believe there is a serious connivance and that is why all of them were rounded up.”
This is another case of impunity where some people dare the rule of law, knowing that they can get away with it, which is a damning testimony of how low our security agencies have sunk. However in this case it should not be ‘business as usual’ which after a brief uproar is swept under the carpet. There must be thorough investigation and those found wanting should be dealt with. Though police have re-arrested three of the suspects, it is not clear if those that accused Melaye are among them. Efforts should be made to arrest all of them.
The allegation they made against Melaye is a grave one and the suspects should face trial where the truth of the matter should come out. If they lied against him as part of a political plot, they must be severely punished. Though this is not the first time that suspects are escaping from police custody, this one has generated a lot of public interest due to the parties and the intrigues involved.
The police must work harder to avoid being sucked into political intrigues as 2019 elections approach. The rigmarole in Kogi State should be brought to a speedy end and all culprits that broke the law should be punished.
Credit: Daily Trust