The siege on the residence of the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye, by the police, has entered its eight day.
PREMIUM TIMES had earlier reported how the police laid siege to the senator’s Abuja residence last week Friday, ending a turbulent year which began with allegations that the lawmaker was involved in multiple armed robbery and murder plots.
The siege marks at least the fourth attempt to arrest Mr Melaye by the police in 2018.
The police, in a statement by its spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, while speaking on the reason for laying siege to Mr Melaye’s residence, said the senator, alongside his ‘armed thugs’, shot one Danjuma Saliu, a sergeant, in July 2018.
“The Police operatives currently in the residence of Senator Dino Melaye are to effect his arrest to answer to the case of attempted culpable homicide on the shooting of a Police Officer, Sgt Danjuma Saliu, attached to 37 Police Mobile Force (PMF) while on duty at a stop and search point along Aiyetoro Gbede, Mopa Road in Kogi state.
“The above offence was committed by Senator Dino Melaye and his armed thugs in Kogi State on the 19th July, 2018 when they shot and wounded a police officer, Sgt Danjuma Saliu, attached to 37 Police Mobile Force (PMF) while on duty at a stop and search point along Aiyetoro Gbede, Mopa Road in Kogi state.”
“The Police Officer is yet to recover from the gunshot injury he sustained during the attack and still under intensive medical care,” Mr Moshood said.
He said the police had made efforts to effect the arrest through the National Assembly clerk.
The police will continue with the siege until the lawmaker is arrested, the statement highlighted.
“The police investigators have written the Clerk of the National Assembly for Senator Dino Melaye to report at Kogi State Police Command, CIID, Lokoja for him to answer to these offences against him under investigation in Kogi State Police Command but he has bluntly refused to report himself to the Police.
“The police operatives will continue to be in wait at the residence of Senator Dino Melaye until he surrenders himself for arrest. The offence for which Senator Dino Melaye is being investigated is capital in nature and not compoundable.”
Rather than debunk or admit the fresh allegations made by the police, Mr Melaye simply said in a tweet on Tuesday that he is being wise and not scared, by hiding. He has also said he is not in the besieged house.
The police, however, believe the lawmaker is hiding in one of the rooms in the house.
A visit by PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday evening indicates that about fifteen police vehicles are stationed at the scene with not less than fifty officers.
The senator’s current ordeal marks the fourth attempt to forcefully arrest him this year, over charges which ranged from perjury to culpable homicide.
The latest siege came three days after Mr Melaye alleged he had uncovered a plot by the police to inject him with poisonous substance, a claim the police denied.
The police declared the senator wanted in March 2018 on claims he provided false information about an alleged attempt on his life, and also sponsored some criminal suspects on armed robbery and murder missions.
Hence, 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 the 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.
The senator had denied all previous charges, saying he was being hounded by the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, and the Buhari administration, for his confrontational politics.
Mr Bello has however distanced himself from Mr Melaye’s ordeal, and the police said they are not being used by the government to go after the senator.
Falana, PDP React
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in reacting to the siege said with the continued lock down on the residence of the senator by the police, the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency is turning Nigeria into a police state, where those opposed to President Buhari’s re-election are treated like enemies of the state.
Kola Ologbondiyan, speaking on behalf of the party, in a statement recently sent to PREMIUM TIMES, said the continued siege shows that the police, under Mr Buhari, has become an instrument of oppression to subjugate dissenting voices, ahead of the 2019 general election.
He said the only sin committed by Mr Melaye is his return to the PDP and his stand against the “misrule” of the Buhari administration, which are all well within his rights as a citizen.
“Since Senator Melaye, left the APC, the Buhari administration has continued to hound and harass him, as well as the members of his family with trumped up charges, all aimed to silence and put him out of circulation, ahead of the 2019 general election,” he said
Also commenting on the issue, a lawyer and activist, Femi Falana, advised the embattled senator to submit himself for arrest by the police in order to end the drama and the unwarranted inconvenience to which his family and neighbours have been subjected recently.
Mr Falana gave the advice in a statement issued on Thursday in reaction to the insistence of the police to arrest the senator.
He argued that “by politely requesting Senator Melaye to submit himself for arrest, the Nigeria Police Force has accorded him the special treatment that is normally reserved for Very Important Personalities (VIP’s) in Nigeria by security agencies”.
He contended that but for Mr Melaye’s privileged position in the country, the police would have forcefully arrested him without laying any siege to his house.
Mr Falana noted that the siege to the house by the police had needlessly lasted for six days while the supply of electricity and water to the house has been disconnected by the police.
“Such action cannot be justified in law,” he said.
To buttress his advice to the senator to submit himself for arrest, the senior lawyer cited a decided case, relating to the matter.
He said, “the Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear in the case of Dr. Oladele Fajemirokun v Commercial Bank (Nig) Limited (2009) 21 WRN 1 that no court has the power to restrain the Police from arresting any citizen who is alleged to have committed a criminal offence”.
Mr Falana also argued that the police need not inform the National Assembly leadership to arrest a lawmaker suspected of committing a crime.
“Since legislators are not entitled to immunity under section 308 of the Constitution they are liable to be arrested, investigated and prosecuted if they are linked with the commission of any criminal offence. However, the arrest, investigation and prosecution must be conducted in strict compliance with the relevant provisions of the penal statutes and the Constitution”, he stated.
Mr Falana, however, blamed the police for sensationalism in the planned arrest of Mr Melaye.
“The police ought to have effected the arrest of the senator under the relevant provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 which empower the police and other law enforcement to break into any house to arrest if there is evidence that any criminal suspect against whom a warrant of arrest has been issued by any court has absconded or is concealing himself or herself so that the warrant cannot be executed.
“Sending over 60 armed police personnel to arrest a citizen is exposing the federal government to ridicule,” he said.
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