Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West Senatorial District, was yesterday brought before an Abuja magistrate’s court on a stretcher by police officers, where he was arraigned under tight security. Melaye, who was granted bail in the sum of N90 million and two sureties, was accused of jumping out of a moving vehicle and attempting to kill himself to implicate the police.
Heavily-armed policemen, who stood at strategic locations within the vicinity of the court, stopped vehicular and human movement even as journalists had a hectic time entering the court.
Melaye was arraigned before Magistrate Mabel Segun-Bello, based on a police first information report, which stated that, on April 24, 2018, about 1330hrs, at Area 1 Roundabout, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the court, “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, 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 Barrister Amefula David Emeka and driven by yet to be unidentified 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.
“That police officers, who were escorting you in the bus tried to re-arrest 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.”
In view of the development, the police stated that Melaye had committed an offence punishable under sections 148, 153, 172, 173, 231 and 326 of the Penal Code Act. After listening to the charge, Melaye pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution counsel, Alex Izinyon, SAN, demanded for dates for trial but Nkem Okoro, counsel representing Melaye, persuaded the court to hear his application for bail. Okoro argued that, since the crime the senator was being accused of was not a capital offence, “under the law, the defendant is entitled to bail.”
He relied on Section 162 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which sets out conditions to be considered before a bail application is granted or refused.
On his part, the prosecution counsel told the court not to grant Melaye bail.
Ruling on the bail application, Magistrate Segun-Bello said she had considered arguments for and against the application, and found out that, under ACJA, “it is imperative to state that bail has been liberalised.”
The court said: “Taking a look at provisions of Section 162 of ACJA, the prosecution counsel has not proven any reasonable apprehension that would warrant the court from denying the defendant bail. 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.”
In addition, the court held that the police counsel could not convince it on how the defendant is likely to influence prosecution witnesses in the cause of his trial, if released on bail.
Consequently, Segun-Bello upheld the argument of Melaye’s lawyer and granted the defendant, bail to the tune of N90 million 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 while the other must have easily identifiable residence in Abuja.
In addition, the court held that Melaye must deposit his international passport with the Federal Capital Territory Police Command. The magistrate further ordered that Melaye must report to the Wuse police division every working day of the week until same is altered by the court.
He was taken out of the courtroom at about 4:20pm, into a waiting ambulance, under escort. The matter was adjourned to June 6.