Fresh controversy surrounds the whereabouts of the lawmaker representing Kogi West in the Senate, Dino Melaye.
A lawyer to the lawmaker, Yemi Mohammed, on Thursday, said the senator was attacked at Gwagwalada on his way to Lokoja on Wednesday.
Mohammed, who represented Melaye’s lead counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said this at a Senior Magistrate’s Court in Lokoja, Kogi State where Melaye is facing charges of illegal possession of firearms and arms dealing.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, Mohammed told the court that he had it on good authority that Melaye was attacked in Gwagwalada on his way to Lokoja.
“I learnt that he was attacked yesterday (Wednesday) in Gwagwalada on his way to Lokoja to attend his trial and up till now, I have not been able to reach him, I don’t know where he is at the moment,’’ the lawyer said.
The magistrate, Sulyman Abdullah, adjourned the case till August 9 for the commencement of trial as the prosecution could not open its case due to the absence of its lead counsel, Dr Alex Izinyon (SAN).
The Officer in Charge of the Legal Department of the Kogi Command of the Nigeria Police, Mr Theophilus Oteme, told the court that Izinyon had an emergency call on Wednesday that made it impossible for him to appear in court on Thursday.
Oteme, therefore, applied for an adjournment until September 23 for the commencement of trial in view of the absence of the lead prosecutor. More so, one of the defendants, Melaye, was not in court.
In his ruling, Abdullah turned down the application by the prosecution for a long adjournment till September 23. He said that the Kogi State Administration of Criminal Justice Law did not allow for an adjournment beyond two weeks in a criminal case.
The magistrate, therefore, adjourned the case till August 9 and ordered that the bail earlier granted to Melaye continued.
Abdullah, however, ruled that the other two accused persons, Nuhu Salihu, alias “small’’, and Kabiru Seidu, also known as “Osama’’, standing trial on a seven charges bordering on illegal possession of firearms and arms dealing, should remain remanded in the police custody.
Meanwhile, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce had on his Twitter handle earlier on Thursday alleged that Melaye was abducted in the Abaji area of the Federal Capital Territory.
Murray-Bruce said he was told that the lawmaker was blocked by some gunmen on the Abuja-Lokoja highway.
He tweeted: “I have just been informed by Moses Melaye, Dino Melaye’s brother, that Dino has been abducted by unknown persons in a Toyota Sienna that blocked their car and overpowered them on their way to Kogi to answer to Dino’s court case. Let’s be on the watch out. Will keep you updated.”
Melaye’s telephone lines indicated that they had been switched off when several attempts were made to contact him by one of our correspondents. It was the same situation as of 8:20pm when this report was filed.
His Special Assistant on Media, Gideon Ayodele, also did not answer the several calls made to his telephone lines. He also did not reply a text message sent to him asking about the whereabouts of the lawmaker.
But a Melaye’s family source, who spoke with one of Punch correspondents at about 8.30pm on Thursday, confirmed that the senator was free.
Another family source said, “He (Melaye) is getting better, as he managed to escape from his abductors.”
But when contacted on Thursday night, Melaye’s lawyer, Ozekhome, told one of our correspondents that he had only been in contact with the senator’s brother while he also expressed hope of positivity.
“I am in touch with his brother. I believe all will be well,” the senior lawyer said.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force says it has not received any complaint or report in any of its divisions or stations throughout the Federal Capital Territory or any other state command about the kidnap of Melaye.
The police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, a statement in Abuja, however, said they had commenced an investigation into the attack on the senator.
“The attention of the Police were drawn to the report of the purported kidnap of Senator Dino Melaye in some sections of the media. However, the Force has commenced an investigation into the purported kidnap of Senator Dino Melaye.
“We wish to implore any of his family members, relatives or friends who witnessed the kidnap or have information about the purported kidnap of the Senator to report the incident at the nearest police station to assist the police in the investigation.”