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Court remands Melaye in police custody till June 11

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A Lokoja Chief Magistrates’ Court on Thursday remanded Senator Dino Melaye and two others in police custody until June 11 over alleged gunrunning.

The accused persons are standing trial on seven counts bordering on criminal conspiracy and unlawful possession of firearms.

The offence is contrary to Section 97 (1) of the Penal Code and Section 27 (1) (a) (1) of the Firearms Act CAP P28, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004.

Melaye, who was granted bail by an Abuja Magistrates’ Court, on Wednesday, after his arraignment on charges bordering on attempted suicide and escape from lawful custody, was brought into the court premises in a police ambulance marked, NPF 2214D, at exactly 9.15am, to face charges of criminal conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms, kidnapping, armed robbery, murder, political thuggery and other violent crimes in Kogi State.

Before the commencement of his arraignment, pressmen were ordered out of the courtroom, but about four of them were later allowed in.

Controversy, however, arose as to which police custody should the senator be kept, even as his counsel was heard expressing fears that his client “will be killed,” if remanded anywhere in Kogi State.

Earlier, the lead counsel for the prosecution, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), had urged the court to remand the other defendants, Kabiru Seidu, 31 and Nuhu Salihu, 25, in the police custody.

The senior advocate said this was to assist the police in furtherance of their investigations.

He, however, pleaded that Melaye should be remanded in prison custody because he was influential and could jeopardise investigations.

He pointed out that the minimum sentence upon conviction was 10 years imprisonment under the Firearms Act.

But Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), leading six other lawyers for the defendants, in his oral application, prayed the court to grant bail to the senator.

He said the senator should be granted bail because he was asthmatic and sick and needed more medical attention.

Ozekhome said Melaye was only on Wednesday granted bail by a court in Abuja in liberal terms and had been in police custody.

The senior advocate said it was discriminatory for the prosecution to ask the court to keep other defendants in the police custody and ask that the senator be remanded in the prison custody.

“We can apply for bail for this traumatised senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria lying here before your lorship on a stretcher.

“Melaye here is not charged with murder in this case; the senator who is seen every day on the floor of the Senate making laws for the country, will stand his trial.

“To send him to prison is to encourage him to breach the bail condition granted him yesterday.

“I humbly urge My Lord to grant bail on self-recognizance to the fourth defendant because he will not jump bail; he will stand his trial and meet the bail conditions,” Ozekhome said.

In his ruling, the magistrate, Sulyman Abdullah, said the essence of bail was to secure the attendance of the defendant before a court of competent jurisdiction.

“However, this application is not granted as a matter of course. It is anchored upon certain timed-honoured principles of the law that would guarantee the production and appearance of the defendant.

“The court however has a grave responsibility to exercise such discretion with utmost caution and to act within the accepted principles of administration of justice.

“Having gone through all the submissions of counsel in respect of this oral application, I decline to exercise my discretion in favour of the fourth defendant; the oral application is accordingly refused,” he said.

Abdullah further ordered the Inspector-General of Police to furnish the senator with all medical needs he required and adjourned the case until June 11, for mention.

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