The police have taken Dino Melaye to their medical centre in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, hours after a magistrate remanded the senator in police custody following arraignment.
Gideon Ayodele, Mr Melaye’s media aide who provided the information to PREMIUM TIMES Thursday night, also said the senator’s lawyers would file fundamental rights enforcement at the Federal High Court, Lokoja, on Friday morning.
He said the lawyers believe the decision to remand Mr Melaye in police custody was flawed and expressed confidence in the ability of a higher court to show a greater degree of understanding in dissecting the complex web that the case had become.
The police arraigned Mr Melaye before a Chief Magistrate’s Court in Lokoja on Thursday morning on seven counts of criminal conspiracy and unlawful possession of firearms.
Sulyman Abdullah, a senior magistrate who sat over the preliminary hearing, said Mr Melaye should be remanded in police custody but the Inspector-General of Police must ensure his health does not deteriorate. He adjourned the trial to June 11.
Mr Melaye has been hospitalised since April 24 when he reportedly jumped out of a moving police vehicle, thereby sustaining injuries.
One of his Senate colleagues, Ben Murray-Bruce, said he forcibly exited the vehicle after officers repeatedly spayed tear gas at him despite being an asthma patient. The police did not deny the allegations.
He was receiving care at the National Hospital, Abuja, since the incident until May 2 when the police arraigned him before the Wuse Zone 2 Chief Magistrate’s Court, Abuja. He received a N90 million bail there after being charged with attempt suicide and vandalism.
But rather than allow him to post the bail, the police immediately re-arrested the senator and held him at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, until about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday when they drove him to Lokoja for another arraignment before another magistrate.
He was brought to the Lokoja courtroom in an ambulance around 9:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Following arguments by the prosecution and defence teams, Mr Abdullah said Mr Melaye should be remanded in police custody until June 11. The police approached the Magistrate’s Court to get further approval to detain Mr Melaye and other suspects pending their proper arraignment at a higher court with requisite jurisdiction to hear criminal charges.
The prosecution team, led by senior lawyer Alex Izinyon, argued that Mr Melaye should be remanded in prison because he could deploy his influence to jeopardise the case if granted bail or kept anywhere outside a prison facility.
Mike Ozekhome, Mr Melaye’s counsel, urged the magistrate to accord his client a bail on own recognisance, especially as a serving senator.
Mr Abdullah denied Mr Ozekhome’s plea, but also said Mr Melaye should be kept in police custody rather than being whisked to prison as demanded by Mr Izinyon.
Mr Ozekhome saw a bright spot for Mr Melaye in the outcome of Wednesday proceeding, saying the police will have no alternative but to return him to the National Hospital Abuja, ‘‘especially since hospitals in Kogi State are all on strike”.
Still, Mr Ayodele said the team would spare no effort in ensuring that Mr Melaye does not spend six weeks in custody as ruled by Mr Abdullah.
“It is important that we approach the Federal High Court tomorrow morning,” Mr Ayodele said.
The police proceeded with Mr Melaye’s arraignment despite concerns from other lawmakers at the National Assembly.
At Thursday’s plenary in the House of Representatives, Speaker Yakubu Dogara urged the police to be professional and careful with Mr Melaye’s case, saying his health should be prioritised.
“I have not seen in any country where someone is arraigned in court on stretchers when he or she is not fit to plead guilty or not guilty,” Mr Dogara said. “If anything happens to him, (Dino) the responsibility will be on the security agency.”