The police on Wednesday arraigned Senator Dino Melaye before the Magistrates’ Court in Wuse Zone 2, Abuja amid heavy presence of policemen.
He was arraigned on charges bordering on his alleged escape from a police vehicle in Abuja on April 24, 2018.
He pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to him by court officials. The presiding magistrate, Mabel Segun-Bello, granted him bail in the sum of N90m with two sureties in like sum.
As part of the bail conditions, the senator was directed by the court to report to Wuse police station every working day of the week.
Melaye’s lawyer, Mr. Nkem Okoro, told one of our correspondents that his client met the bail conditions granted by the court but the senator was rearrested by the police on the court premises.
“He met his bail conditions but the police decided to rearrest him on the excuse that they were taking him to Lokoja tomorrow morning,” Okoro said.
Melaye, lying on a stretcher, was produced in court in a police ambulance with registration number NPF2214D on Wednesday.
Notable among his supporters who thronged the court were two senators – Ben Murray-Bruce (Peoples Democratic Party, Bayelsa) and Mrs. Abiodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti).
Over 200 armed policemen were deployed in the court. They condoned off adjoining streets preventing vehicular movement. Some of the policemen who manned the gate denied some journalists entry into the court. Other court users were also turned back.
The policemen departed the court premises and the adjoining streets in a convoy which comprised the ambulance conveying Melaye at about 4.20pm.
One of our correspondents counted 14 pick-up vans with an average of 10 policemen occupying each and seven 18-seater buses also filled with policemen in the convoy.
In the First Information Report filed by the police against Melaye, he was accused of intentionally breaking the side windscreen of the bus conveying him to Lokoja on April 24 and jumping out of it.
He allegedly jumped out of the vehicle after a bus occupied by his younger brother, Samuel Melaye, and a lawyer, Amefula Emeka, blocked the police vehicle that was said to be conveying the senator to Lokoja to face charges bordering on alleged unlawful possession of firearms.
The prosecution accused Melaye of attempting to kill himself in order to implicate the police by jumping out of the bus and falling on the ground.
The offences were said to be punishable under sections 148, 153, 172, 173, 231 and 326 of the Penal Code Act.
The charges read, “On April 24, 2018, about 1330hrs (1.30pm) at Area One Roundabout Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the court, that you, Senator Dino Melaye of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, while being conveyed in a police white Hilux bus with registration number NPF 3354 D to Lokoja, Kogi State, to be arraigned in court for conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms in charge number, CMCL/14SC/2018, filed at the Chief Magistrates’ Court, Lokoja, you, Senator Dino Melaye, intentionally broke the side windscreen of the bus and jumped out of the bus after it was blocked by a Hilux vehicle with registration number Kaduna MKA 603 GY occupied by your younger brother, Samuel Melaye, and one Amefula David Emeka and driven by a yet to-be-identified person who escaped from the scene after the blockade.
“You, Senator Dino Melaye, after breaking the side windscreen, attempted to kill yourself by jumping out of the bus and fell on the ground and thereafter started shouting that you want to kill yourself and implicate the police for your death.
“The police officers who were escorting you in the bus tried to rearrest you back to the bus but you resisted further arrest with the help of your brother, Samuel Melaye, and some lawyers in your company and further threatened to injure the police officers if they try to further arrest you and you finally escaped from the scene in another Hilux vehicle.”
After Melaye pleaded not guilty to the charges, the prosecuting counsel, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), urged the court to adjourn for trial.
But the senator’s lawyer, Okoro, pleaded with the court to hear his client’s application for bail.
The magistrate allowed the lawyer to move the bail application.
While arguing the bail application, Okoro contended that the offences the senator was charged with were not capital, adding that the defendant was entitled to bail under the law.
He cited the provisions of Section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
But the prosecuting counsel, Izinyon, opposed the bail application on the grounds that the defendant would likely obstruct the course of justice.
Ruling on the bail application, the magistrate said Izinyon was unable to prove the apprehension expressed by the police to warrant the court to deny the defendant bail.
She ruled, “The prosecution counsel has placed nothing before the court to show why the defendant should not be granted bail.
“There is no evidence tendered before this court to substantiate the prosecution counsel’s claim that the defendant will jump bail.”
She said the prosecution could not convince the court on how the defendant was likely to influence the prosecution witnesses after the commencement of the trial.
The magistrate then granted bail to the senator in the sum of N90m with two sureties in like sum.
The court ordered that one of the sureties must be a civil servant not lower than Grade Level 14, and one must have an easily identifiable residence in Abuja.
The court also held that Melaye must deposit his passport with the Federal Capital Territory Police Command.
In addition, the magistrate ordered that the defendant must report to the Wuse police station every working day of the week until the bail conditions were altered by the court.
The court then adjourned the case until June 6 for trial.
But the police later on Wednesday said Melaye was being detained after his arraignment at Chief Magistrate Court, Wuse, Abuja.
The force stated that the lawmaker would be moved to Lokoja, Kogi State where he would be arraigned before a court of competent jurisdiction without delay.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, said in a statement that Melaye was taken into police custody for the criminal charges filed against him at a court in Kogi State.
He stated that Melaye was arraigned after he was discharged by the National Hospital, Abuja and confirmed fit for trial.
The statement read, “Senator Dino Melaye was arraigned in court by the police at the Chief Magistrates’ Court, Wuse, Abuja today (Wednesday) for criminal conspiracy, causing damage to government property, attempted suicide and escape from lawful custody.”