The police laid a siege to the residence of Nigerian senator, Dino Melaye, on Friday, ending on an aggravating note a turbulent year that began with allegations the politician was involved in multiple armed robbery and murder plots.
At least 20 police officers were said to have arrived at Mr Melaye’s home in Abuja’s upscale Maitama neighbourhood on Friday morning. It was not immediately clear when the officers began arriving, but Mr Melaye first tweeted about it at 11:53 a.m.
Witnesses in the area told PREMIUM TIMES at least 10 officers have forcibly entered the fortified building, and still remained inside as of 3:18 p.m. Ten others, including at least 10 plainclothes officers, were manning outside.
Mr Melaye was believed to be inside the house, holding himself in one of the ‘secret dungeons’ to prevent being driven away.
PREMIUM TIMES observed five police vehicles in a visit to the scene Friday afternoon, comprising two police utility trucks and three five-seater passenger cars. A battery of reporters stood watch about 30 metres away from the building gate.
The senator, however, said in a conference call with reporters that he was outside Abuja, and only learnt about the development through public channels.
“I am not in Abuja, but I plan to make myself available when I return,” the senator said.
The police declined comments to reporters, with the leader of the team directing all enquiries to the Force Headquarters. Abuja police commissioner, Bala Ciroma, did not return PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comments.
Today’s siege marks the fourth attempt to arrest Mr Melaye by force this year, over a laundry of charges which ranged from perjury to culpable homicide. It came three days after Mr Melaye said he had uncovered police’s plots to inject him with poisonous substance, a caim the police denied.
The police declared him wanted in March on claims he provided false information to them about an alleged attempt on his life, and also sponsored some criminal suspects on armed robbery and murder missions.
It was in early March that the police first attempted to forcibly arrest Mr Melaye by way of a siege at the FCT High Court in Maitama. The police again trapped Mr Melaye at his Abuja home in April, and ultimately took him away following a siege that lasted all day.
In one of at least a dozen cases which the police have filed against Mr Melaye, the senator was arraigned on a stretcher in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, for murder, days after the senator was hospitalised after reportedly jumping out of a moving police vehicle to avoid being taken to Lokoja, where he believed he would not get justice.
When Mr Melaye went home for a ‘thanksgiving service’ in June, members of his security detail were said to have opened fire at a police checkpoint, leading to an overnight siege at his country home in Aiyetoro-Gbede, Kogi State.
It was not immediately clear whether the police have fresh arrest warrant for Mr Melaye before embarking on the latest siege Friday morning.
The senator strongly denied all the charges, saying he was being hounded by Governor Yahaya Bello and the Buhari administration for his confrontational politics.
Mr Bello has repeatedly distanced himself from Mr Melaye’s ordeal, and the police said they are not being used by the government to go after the senator.
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