By Mohammed Baba Busu
There is no doubt, the recent drama that surrounded the arrest of Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West Senatorial District has generated a lot of reactions among Nigerians.
While many see the senator’s action as shameful and disgraceful, others blame his colleagues in the Senate for supporting Dino’s lawlessness. What a contrast!
They bluntly failed to allow the public to know that no one is, and indeed, above the law, irrespective of class or social status.
It is also worrisome that many, even among the elite, have not taken time to look at the substance of the issue and what made the police to react the way they did.
Even among his colleagues, as expected, many are still ignorant of the sequence and chain of events that culminated into his invitation and subsequent arrest.
It is also worth noting that it is the senators’ bias and sympathy for a criminally minded lawbreaker (or lawmaker ?) that actually prompted their illogical and rash reaction to the National embarrassment.
Their reaction was so virulent to the extent that some of them described the inability of the IGP to personally appear before the senate as disrespect to the revered red chamber.
But do they actually deserve the much-acclaimed respect? Respect for people who do not show elements of decorum in public conduct. Respect is earned and must be duly earned.
At this point, it will be important to recall some of the incidents that played out before the recent drama between the police and Senator Dino Melaye ensued.
Sometimes back, criminals were arrested in Kogi State with AK47 assault rifles. They were arrested and the criminals mentioned Senator Melaye as their sponsor.
Is that what our so called esteemed senators do in the hallowed chamber? I don’t want to believe so.
As a Force that actually respects the legislative arm of government and also follows due process, the Police, in a letter, politely asked Dino to defend himself but the almighty ‘lawmaker’ flagrantly ignored the letter.
A week later, the Police wrote to the Senate as an institution, requesting its leadership to release Melaye to tell the police what he knew about the allegation, the Senate also arrogantly ignored the letter.
Another week after, the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), extended another invitation to the suspect, yet he refused. This warranted his being declared wanted.
Unfortunately, however, few days later, the suspects who implicated Melaye, escaped from police detention and he (Melaye) gave the police a marching order to re-arrest them within 24 hours. Luckily for the police, two days later, they were rearrested and Melaye was again invited, he again refused.
The police made an attempt to arrest him at Offa in Kwara State, but the Senate President intervened and prevented the police.
Senator Melaye was again stopped at the Airport by the officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service when he was about to travel outside the country for an official assignment, he snatched back his passport from the immigration personnel and bolted away before the Police got there. What a lawmaker ?
The police then traced him to his house and laid siege there because he refused to submit himself for arrest But 24 hours later, he submitted himself for arrest and was taken to SARS headquarters for processing.
He was then being taken to Lokoja for an identification parade when the lawmaker displayed his usual contempt and ungentlemanly attitude by attempting to escape and was rearrested immediately.
During the process, he sustained an injury and was taken to the hospital.
Thus, the questions for the Senate and public are numerous.
First, does Melaye’s attitude qualify him as a distinguished Senator? Does a man of his standing who should be a role model supposed to behave like a hooligan ? Can the police reaction in the aforementioned circumstances be seen as witch-hunt or highhandedness?
Why is the Senate not intervening on behalf of other Nigerians who have cases to answer before the various law enforcement agencies? What is special in Melaye’s criminal case that the revered institution is meddling in it. Has he become a tin god that must be worshipped by the Senate ?
Is the Senate a den of criminals or institution of law making. Will someone call the sanate to order and stop tarnishing Nigeria’s hard-earned democracy?
On the anger expressed by some senators on the inability of the IGP to appear personally when the Senate invited him, it is pertinent to note that the IGP has the right to delegate responsibility as he cannot be everywhere at the same time.
Moreover, the officer that represented him- Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of Operations is qualify to represent the IG as enshrined in both constitution and police act.
Also, delegating a senior police officer to represent him while he was on a national engagement is in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Police Act and Regulation, and other extant laws.
As the Force Public Relations Officer, Moshood Jimoh, recently said: “The functions, duties and responsibilities of the IGP as listed in Section 215 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can also be carried out as mentioned in section 312 (1) of the Police Act and Regulation by a senior officer.
The specified officers of the Force of the Rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) and Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) who, if permitted by the IGP to act on his behalf or represent him in official capacity at any function, event or programme within and outside Nigeria, can do so in consonant with the provisions of the Police Act and Regulation.
“It is on the basis of the above that while the IGP is on an official assignment in Bauchi State, he delegated the DIG, Department of Operations to represent him and honour the invitation of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria in respect of issues surrounding Sen. Melaye.”
It is therefore, pertinent to call on the Senators and indeed, all Nigerians to stop trivialising and attaching sentiments to the Melaye’s issue.
The Senators should therefore, sheath their sword and partner with the Nigeria Police Force for the collective interest of Nigerians.
The Police, no doubt, need the support of all and sundry to overcome the challenges bedeviling the nation at this crucial time of our national history.
A word is enough for the wise. The Senate is not a place for miscreants and misfits. It must be revered, protected and held in the highest esteem. We never had it so bad in the institution.