Senator Dino Melaye was eventually arrested by the men of the Nigeria Police Force on Friday , January 4, 2019. His arrest was effected when he emerged from his home into the waiting arms of the police. The Police, armed with a warrant of arrest, had arrived his house eight days earlier to effect his arrest in connection with a crime of conspiracy and culpable homicide . The police claim that in July 2018 in Lokoja in Kogi State, a shot was fired at a policeman , Sergeant Danjuma Aliyu by a suspected political thug in Senator Melaye’s company,leaving the policeman critically wounded as a result of which he is still allegedly hospitalized at the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja.
Before setting up an ad hoc police post in the frontage of Senator Melaye’s home to effect his arrest, the police had transmitted a communication, from transmission , sorry, Force Headquarters to the leadership of the Senate, through the Clerk of the Senate, inviting Senator Melaye to appear in respect of the investigation into the incident. Senator Dino Melaye spurned that invitation . Apparently, given the spirited arguments made by the leadership of the senate while Melaye was in a self hostage situation, there was a misconstruction of the purport and intendment of the governing provision of the relevant section of the Legislative Houses Powers and Pribileges Act. The Senate Leadership had suggested that before a senator could be arrested by the police , the senate leadership must give an approval. That was a misstatement of the law by the lawmakers. No legislator enjoys that privilege under the Act.
Senator Dino Melaye enjoys no executive immunity against criminal summons or arrest under Section 308 of the Constitution. The legislative privileges and immunity he enjoys do not extend beyond his legislative utterances on the floor of the senate and his legislative processes ( motions , resolutions, et cetera ) for which he can’t be sued for libel.
This is why he could threaten to impregnate a female senator on the floor of the Senate without any consequences. And to further rub it in following that vulgarity, he strutted to the famous street where the private residence and the political lair of the husband of that senator is located in Lagos to take photographs , which he posted on the social media to shame those who had warned him of the dire consequences of coming to Lagos, the political base of the senator and her husband. By those “photo ops”, Senator Melaye must have convinced himself that he had demonstrated courage and lack of fear for any political principalities.
And this is why he could lead a band of noisemakers, pardon me , lawmakers to boo the President Muhammadu Buhari at the 2019 Budget Presentation before the joint sitting of the National Assembly without any repercussions. An offensive legislative conduct, no doubt but one that is not actionable in law .
When the Police got to the House of Senator Dino Melaye , armed with a warrant of arrest, they were entitled to use minimum force permitted by law to effect his arrest. Once they were satisfied that he was in the House, but he was disallowing them to gain entry , barricading himself in , they were entitled to use force, including breaking the outer window or door to gain entry . The police didn’t do that . Instead, they laid a siege which got protracted and lasted for eight days.
In the course of the eight days, the police reportedly cut electricity power and water supplies to the house to generate an overwhelming inconvenience that would smoke Senator Dino Melaye out of the House. But Dino Melaye was determined to evade arrest .He took his time.
During that period , Senator Melaye, who, by his ceaseless tweets , had initially alerted the world that he was not holed up in the house, and later that he would not surrender, approached the High Court to secure an order compelling the police to leave his premises . He failed in his mission . By law, no court of law can restrain the police perpetually from doing its work and enforcing the law .
After the failure of the high court gambit, Senator Dino Melaye, looking tired , famished and disheveled, came out and surrendered himself to the Police .
The nation has been treated to the footage of policemen carrying Senator Melaye into a car upon his arrest , and out of the car, and pulling him up from the floor when he “ slumped” and attending to him with an inhaler. He is said to be asthmatic.
The police must be condemned for their lack of imagination, tardiness and inordinate prevarication in effecting the arrest of Senator Dino Melaye. By staying in front of his house for eight days, instead of moving in to quickly effect his arrest, the police did not demonstrate the requisite professionalism. Indeed, the police is lucky to have escaped without a charge of procuring or inducing the suicide of Senator Dino Melaye. Upon getting to his home , and with the certainty that he was in the house , the deployed policemen should have broken into the house to effect his arrest immediately, without giving room for any untoward occurrence .
But for his regular tweets, which by default served as a proof of life, nobody could have been sure that he was alive , given the alarm he had raised about the threat to his life vide a lethal injection.
It was wrong of the police to have allowed him to hold himself hostage for eight days , thereby subjecting him to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, contrary to the provision of Section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
Anything could have happened in those eight days. Senator Dino Melaye is currently facing a charge of attempted suicide in an Abuja Court. That charge was instituted by the police . Thus, the police ought to have profiled him as a person who is not only prone to exhibiting suicidal instincts, but also as a person who is capable of carrying out his suicide threats.
A thinking police force ought, in the circumstances, therefore, to have realized that a man that they had reasons to charge to court for attempting to commit suicide , who, publicly, is not known to have taken therapy or medical attention to purge himself of his suicidal tendencies, could , if subjected to pressure by the same set of law enforcers , contemplate suicide, as an escape option.
Mid last year , while being taken to Court in Kogi State , Dino Melaye allegedly jumped down from a police vehicle. Whether he jumped down in order to escape from the police team remained unclear . What was without dispute , however, was that Dino Melaye , in a video clip that went viral , was seen , sitting on the tarred road , roaring in his deep voice that he would not go to Kogi State , where he believed he would be harmed or assassinated by his political adversaries. Very instructively, he declared that “ I will kill myself and I will put all of you in trouble “ . He was taken to a private hospital and the National Hospital , following that incident in which he alleged that he was injured. From that National Hospital, he was taken to Kogi State , arraigned before a high court, while lying on a stretcher, and granted bail .
Thereafter, Senator Melaye and his political associates came up with another assassination allegation. As the narrative goes, while on his way to Kogi State, his entourage was ambushed by assassins who were on a mission to liquidate him. He was lucky to outsmart and outrun them, as they pursued him into the forest. He spent two days in the bush , he continued, a substantial part of the two days being spent on top of a tree. He survived the ordeal. For sharing the story of his dramatic but fortuitous escape, he was lampooned by many, who disbelieved the authenticity of the story.
Even before the police stormed his residence, to effect his arrest , Senator Melaye had alleged that the police were planning to arrest him and possibly inject him to death . And it easily can be recalled that in one of his famous denunciations of his political traducers, he had quipped, “ if you lie , you will die , if you tell the truth , you will die , why not tell the truth and die “
It is thus clear , that Senator Dino Melaye’s public commentary and encounters with the police have been interlaced with some kind of morbidity. In his utterances, “death” has been a recurring decimal. A psychological disorientation, trauma, trouble of the mind, and depression were palpable.
The police shouldn’t, therefore , have gone for the arrest of Senator Dino Melaye without a sense of anticipation that they could have a complicated suicide case in their hands . They should have gone there with a medical emergency team , if they had one . From the video footages of the arrest, being shared in the social media , one didn’t see any assisting team of police medical corps at the scene of the eight day camp out or arrest. One could only see policemen in uniforms and in mufti brandishing assault rifles. No stethoscope accompanied the guns.
Senator Dino Melaye is a man of drama and controversies. But if the police didn’t believe that he seriously was attempting to commit suicide , they ought not have charged him for the offence
Dino Melaye is a man of stunts, and a gifted singer , dancer and composer. As a member of the House of Representatives, he was famous for the spectacle of his dress being torn into shreds in the physical engagement and pandemonium that attended the fight, on June 22, 2010, between the supporters and opponents of Dimeji Bankole, Speaker of the 6th House of Representatives. And as a Senator, when a fellow Senator, Ali Ndume, former Senate Majority Leader , in March 2017, raised a question pertaining to his academic qualification for investigation, he was suspended for six months ! After the Vice Chancellor of ABU , ( instead of the Registrar and Secretary to Council, or Deputy Registrar, Exams & Records ), ABU , did the dishonorable act of personally appearing before a Senate Committee to testify and authenticate Dino Melaye’s Certificate from ABU, Senator Dino Melaye marched majestically, albeit laughably, into the Senate Chambers in an academic gown . Yes. Nigerians know Senator Melaye. He is full of theatrics. Yes. But the police shouldn’t have laid a seige to his house without contemplating the possibility of his attempting suicide and preparing to prevent it.
Dino Melaye , is not Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN , SAM, who, while in the tick of his titanic battles with the military during their pernicious reign , always moved about with his suit case , containing clothes, books , medication and other personal effects, in readiness for any attest and detention by the goons of the junta. He never ran away from the military. He had the courage of his conviction
Nor is he Fela Anikulapo Kuti . In spite of the vicious clampdown of the Obasanjo Military Regime in 1977, an incident in which his Kalakuta Republic , musical equipment, film, his brother’s clinic were burnt , and in which he and his mother, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti suffered personal injuries ,Fela defiantly rose from one of his skirmishes with the military junta to sing a song of courage to silence those who were suggesting surrender or exile “ run , run, run , I no go run ; na goat dey run , na man dey stand. “
He is also not Chief MKO Abiola, GCFR , who upon declaring himself President on June 12, 1994 ( a year after the holding and annulment of the June 12 1993 Presidential Election, at the historic Epetedo Declaration ), in defiance of the Abacha regime, briefly went into seclusion, before returning to his home in Ikeja Lagos , from where he was arrested and taken into custody. A custody in which he was held incommunicado for over four years until his death in 1998.
Dino Melaye is Dino Melaye, a Senator who thunders on the floor of the Senate , but who has now become a muted senator on the floor, subjected to sitting on bare ground or tarred roads, or lying unconscious on the floors of police stations.
Senator Dino Melaye should not be persecuted. He must only be made to face the law if he has committed any offence known to law. But , if the ploy is to keep him in custody until after the 2019 Elections, the Police must realize that Senator Iyiola Omisore won his election into the Senate in 2003 from Prison , while he was facing the Chief Bola Ige murder charge. But then he was in the ruling party , PDP. Unlike Senator Dino Melaye now. The party is the same. The ruling is, however, different.
Anyway, this is NIGERIA.
By Jiti Ogunye