•IGP hasn’t picked my calls in 48 hours –Saraki
Fred Itua, Abuja
Senate adjourned plenary, yesterday, in solidarity with one of its own, Dino Melaye, who is being held by the Nigeria Police Force, in Abuja.
The adjournment followed the adoption of a motion moved by Senator Mao Ohuabunwa.
The Red Chamber equally resolved to summon the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, to explain the circumstances which led to the alleged harassment, arrest and detention of Melaye, by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), from his office.
The IGP is expected to appear before Senate in plenary, by 11am today; to explain alleged inhuman treatment being meted to Melaye.
On Tuesday, Melaye was re-arrested, after he allegedly jumped out of a moving police vehicle, enroute Lokoja, capital of Kogi State.
Also at plenary, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, informed his colleagues he had been unable to speak with the IGP in the last 48 hours (as at yesterday).
Saraki said Melaye’s ordeal is an attack on the Senate and called on those in authorities to follow the rule of law.
He said: “I know that, at times like this, it is difficult to speak the truth because it is clear that it is a violation on all of us, the institution and democracy.
“This action, whether we want to admit it or not, is a threat to this democracy we are all fighting for. The excesses must be curtailed, in the interest of all of us.
“We are about to start elections and these are the kind of excesses that those who are supposed to be responsible to provide law and order; it is of great concern in this country.
“This is not what we should be expending our energy on. Even me, for the last 48 hours, I have not been able to reach the IGP. I think that is not a disrespect to me as an individual, but, to this institution because you cannot talk about security without collaboration with the Legislature.
“This attitude must stop if we want to sustain and create an enabling environment for our democracy. We are not talking about the merit of what he did and what he did not do. There is a procedure and there are ways of finding this out.”
Lawmakers who took turns to condemn what they described as “denigration and calculated onslaught against the institution of the Senate,” said the move will be resisted.
Senator Samuel Anyanwu drew the attention of his colleagues to the arrest, detention and hospitalisation of Melaye on the orders of the IGP.
Anyanwu who came under the Privileges motion, told the Senate that he was aware that Melaye was being treated “like a common criminal.”
He said: “One of us is currently being treated like a common criminal. My heart is bleeding. I feel that we have all lost the essence of our being in the Senate and the essence of being called Senators.
“On Tuesday, I, in the company of two other senators, went to see senator Melaye at the National Hospital. Can you imagine, Mr. President, that we were not allowed to see our colleague.? It was unbelievable and unimaginable to ever think that a day will come when senators will not be allowed to visit their colleague who is in chains in the hospital.
“Senator Peter Nwaoboshi is held by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and nobody is allowed to see him. The Senate should immediately take up the matter to ensure that Melaye does not continue to suffer this orchestrated dehumanizing and inhuman treatment. Can’t the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria be respected?”
Senator Chukwuka Utazi, who seconded the motion, described it as an important motion that should be given all the attention it deserves.
Also, Senator Abbdullahi Adamu described the situation as “emotional. In moments like this, it is not a matter of what he did or didn’t do on the floor of this hallowed chamber. I think the issue is how we get him out of the situation he is in. The emphasis now is what can we do as colleagues to bring him out of this present predicament he is now in. The outpouring of confrontational languages does not help us in this situation,” he said.
On her part, senator Oluremi Tinubu urged the chamber to “address issues, when we begin to join different issues. We should face the issue. If we are talking about a particular issue we should stay with it. When we begin to bring a government that a lot of people supported to be here to use whatever appened as to implicate the government, I think I’m against that. Immediately Omo Agege was led away by police, I knew that the sanctity of this place has been invaded upon.”
Earlier in the day, four two, out of four senators were barred from seeing Melaye at the Intensive Care Unit of the National Hospital.
The four lawmakers were sent by the Senate to ascertain the true position of things. Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, who led three other senators, said police officers attached to the ICU said they were under strict instructions not to allow them see Melaye.
Na’Allah explained: “We spoke to the doctor in charge of the ICU and they assured us that they are doing everything humanly possible to stabilise him.
“As at the time we left the hospital, an issue that the feeding of Dino has become an issue because the Police are not willing to feed him because of the situation. They are afraid. The hospital has equally expressed reservations about feeding senator Dino…”
Regardless, Saraki later visited the hospital in company with 40 senators to see Melaye. Only Saraki and 7 lawmakers, were allowed to see Melaye.
Briefing newsmen later, Saraki said Melaye was in a stable condition.
He also revealed that the handcuffs had been removed but didn’t disclose any other thing that transpired.
The senate president, however, confirmed that Melaye hadn’t eaten anything in 24 hours, as at yesterday afternoon.