Senate aborts session to visit Melaye in hospital


Senators yesterday alleged abuse of power and disregard for the legislative institution by the executive arm of government in the handling of the matter between Dino Melaye and the Nigeria Police.

To demonstrate its worries, the upper chamber aborted all matters it had slated for consideration in its yesterday’s Order Paper, including the consideration of 20 bills and a report on its investigation of subsidy monies spent by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, was invited to appear in chamber at 11:00 a.m. today for questioning over the twin issues of Melaye and increased killings across the country. Adopting the motion moved by Sam Anyanwu, the senators visited the Trauma Centre of the National Hospital in Abuja where Melaye was admitted.

The embattled Melaye had on Tuesday night been taken to the National Hospital from a private hospital, Zankli, where he was earlier admitted after he had an encounter with men of the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) on Tuesday.At exactly 1:37 p.m., the lawmakers arrived at the National Hospital and headed straight to meet with the chairperson of the hospital’s board of directors, who happened to be a former speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Ette as well as the chief medical director.

Numbering about 75, the lawmakers held a brief meeting with Etteh and the management in the conference hall of the hospital.Most of them remained there while the Senate President Bukola Saraki and a few other senators went into the trauma centre where Melaye was being given medical attention.i

When they came out of the ward after about 20 minutes with Melaye, Saraki narrated his experience in these words: “After the sitting of the Senate today, we decided to come here because, for 24 hours, we have not heard or known the state of Senator Dino.

“We are happy that we have seen him. He is in intensive care. He is stable for now. He has not eaten for the past 24 hours. We are trying to resolve that. He is on fluids and he has been seen by a cardiologist and all other relevant specialists. He also has a lot of underlying issues. He is asthmatic. So, we are a bit concerned. By now we thank God he is stable. He is being monitored and we continue to pray for him that he fully recovers from his predicament”.

On whether Melaye was still handcuffed, Saraki said: “No, he is not in handcuffs.”The senator was handcuffed and taken away on a stretcher from Zankli Hospital, Abuja to the National Hospital on Tuesday night. He had gone to the private hospital to get treatment after an ordeal with the police team that attempted to take him from Abuja to a court in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital for alleged criminal charges.

The police had charged the lawmaker with gun running and monetary inducement linking him to some political thugs whom the police said had confessed to being sponsored by the Kogi West senator.Before the visit to the National Hospital yesterday, the Senate engaged in a very emotional and exhaustive debate in which the lawmakers condemned the manner security issues were being handled in the country.

In a brief remark at the end of the short plenary session, Saraki expressed disappointment at the attitude of security agencies towards security issues in the country. He told his colleagues that the inspector general of police had been avoiding his calls since the last 48 hours. Saraki described the action of the police as an attack on the National Assembly.

“I thank all those that have contributed. The truth is that, 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 contained in the interest of all of us. “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 procedure,” he said.The Senate delegation earlier sent to ascertain the state of health of Melaye informed the Senate that he was in a very critical condition in the emergency unit of the trauma centre of the hospital.

Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’alla, who led the delegation, disclosed that the police had wanted to move Melaye out in his present condition but were told by the management of the hospital to sign an undertaking that they would be responsible for whatever happened to the lawmaker in the process. “Something is also worrisome and it is his feeding. Police are afraid of feeding him and the hospital is having reservations. The CMD gave an instruction that two of Melaye’s cooks will prepare the food but that they must taste the food. Even that has not been successful.”

Contributing to the debate, Shehu Sani (APC-Kaduna), said: “It is a systematic pattern of violating fundamental human rights in the country. We have seen an increasing inching toward a totalitarian state; court orders are violated and there is onslaught against democratic institutions which is also a clear breach and consistent erosion.Abdullahi Adamu described the situation as “emotional.”

Meanwhile, the police have released the two doctors of Zankli Hospital, Abuja who treated Melaye after he allegedly escaped from police custody.A source who confirmed this to The Guardian on the hospital premises said the doctors were released on bail yesterday afternoon. He stated the police were yet to charge the doctors for any offence.

The source said the hospital management might file a case against the police for partially disrupting activities at the facility on Tuesday night while attempting to re-arrest the senator.In a related development, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday in Lokoja announced that it would conduct the signature verification for Melaye’s recall in seven local councils on Saturday.

Addressing pressmen in Lokoja, during the “Stakeholders Meeting on the Process of the Recall (Verification) of the Senator Representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Kogi State”, the INEC National Commissioner Supervising Kogi, Kwara and Nassarawa states, Mohammed Haruna, said the electoral body had no special interest in the process, other than to ensure that it is followed through as spelt out by the law.

The Kogi State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. James Apam, said more than 50 percent of the constituents of the senatorial district must affirm their signatures or get their thumbprints verified by INEC in the 560 polling units in the Kogi West.

The outcome of the exercise is expected to be made public on Sunday, April 29, 2018.On the concern raised by some of the stakeholders over alleged fake signatures believed to be those of late constituents, Apam said there was no need for any worry as they would not come from their graves for the exercise.

When reminded of the senator’s current ordeal and the possibility that he might not be available for the verification as his presence is also important, the resident electoral commissioner said the electoral body was not aware.