Melaye, Senate and police brouhaha By CARL UMEGBORO
The Nigeria Police Force deserved some condemnations over the drama with Dino Melaye, senator representing Kogi West senatorial district on the platform of All Progressives Congress in the Senate. The police strangely arraigned the lawmaker in the magistrate court right from the hospital on a stretcher, first on three charges; attempted suicide among others in the Federal Capital Territory. Incidentally, after securing bail and meeting conditions, Melaye was rearrested by the police on the court premises for arraignment the next day on the initial crimes; unlawful possession of arms among others allegedly committed alongside two others in Kogi State.
Then, the high number of armed policemen guarding the embattled senator right from the National Hospital to Kogi has remained mind-blowing with diverse interpretations in the polity.
The Police actions point to man’s inhumanity to man, meanness, malignity and hostility. To worsen the matter, the Senate in solidarity intervened; summoned the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to explain why a “distinguished colleague” could be arrested let alone openly treated like a “common criminal” under his watch. However, the IGP, in line with administrative norms, appeared through a Deputy Inspector General of Police due to an official engagement in Bauchi, but was turned down with an ultimatum that the police boss must appear in person. Since then, the summons has not yielded any positive result on account of the IGP’s purported engagements.
Without a doubt, the Senate is vested with oversight functions and therefore can summon any public officer on national issues. However, where the Senate erred was its rejection of the DIG assigned to represent the agency. The fiat to make the IGP appear in person would be indispensible if in the course of responses the DIG indicated that some explanations could only be provided by the substantive head. Until that happens, the IGP statutorily can be represented, competently by his second-in-command. Nonetheless, it is indeed, aberrational, prejudicial and abuse of legislative powers to summon a security agency statutorily vested with powers to fight crimes for explanations over arrest and arraignment simply on account that the suspect is a teammate. Public office holders including senators are not different from other citizens. Senate President Bukola Saraki was put behind the dock last year over corruption charges but later discharged and acquitted by the court. In other words, the court is no man’s land. Besides, the requisite standard is proof beyond reasonable doubts unlike in civil matters.
Now, a holistic approach on the episodes in line with global standard procedures will satisfactorily exonerate the police as other operatives globally may not handle it differently under similar circumstances. The first reason is that the police courteously arrested Melaye in good health until the “jumping out from a moving vehicle” incident and consequently sustained “injury” that led to admission in the hospital. Had the “jumping out” not occurred, certainly, the use of a stretcher wouldn’t have come in, thus, a self-induced accident.
The second is that the police patiently halted the arraignment to allow Melaye receive adequate medical attention. As claimed, prior to his arraignment, the National Hospital, Abuja, discharged and certified him fit to face trial albeit still on a stretcher. The question is; should the police be faulted for relying on a medical report in carrying out their lawful duties? The answer is emphatically NO. Clearly, the laws that set up the agency alongside courts that will adjudge the matter prima facie rely on medical reports. More important is the third reason; distinct locus situs of the two deeds alongside jurisdiction of the courts.
Logically, it will be off beam for a security agency to suspend its statutory duties on sentiments. It means that a suspect on the police wanted list can take refuge in a hospital, maybe retire in perpetuity on a stretcher. As long as the medical reports certified fitness, any other thing should wait. This is essentially on account that the police lack powers under the law to keep a suspect in their custody beyond 48 hours without arraignment except by court orders. For example, it is excusable to delay arraignment of suspects the police conveyed to hospital over illness, but once certified fit and discharged, the same suspect if kept in the custody without arraignment, perhaps on sympathy, may bring actions against the police for unlawful detention. Then, to release the suspect already in their net until appeared fully recuperated will literally reduce such an agency as an amateur and inept.
On the innumerable number of operatives deployed to guide the lawmaker who by the police charges is presently a suspect, the singular act of overpowering, alongside his cronies, the few operatives probably unarmed that arrested him and escaped from lawful custody makes it justifiable that the agency can deploy any number of its personnel to avoid repetition. No operative around the world takes it lightly where suspects resist arrest let alone overpower the agency to forcefully escape from lawful custody.
Melaye’s hue and cry over fear of elimination by his political opponents may equally justify the police deploying such a number to guard him. The matter is finally before the court which will inevitably accord fair hearing to the parties. Punch
Carl Umegboro, Abuja. (07057101974 SMS-only) firstname.lastname@example.org