Dino Melaye jumps out of police van, ends up in hospital

Senator Dino Melaye was on Tuesday admitted to  the Zanklin Hospital, Mabushi, Abuja, after he allegedly jumped off a moving police van at Area One Roundabout, Garki, in an attempt to prevent the police from taking him to Lokoja, Kogi State.

He was said to have engaged the policemen in a scuffle during which he sustained injury leading to his admission in the hospital.

The police were said to be taking him to Kogi State where they allegedly planned to parade him before the media along with six suspects for alleged gun running and criminal conspiracy.

A footage of Melaye’s encounter with his police escorts and subsequent hospital admission later appeared on the Internet.

The senator was arrested by immigration officers at the Nnamdi Azikiwe  Airport on Monday morning on his way to Morocco, but managed to escape from the security personnel.

But later on Monday, policemen stormed his residence at Shanga Street, Maitama, Abuja  where they  kept  a vigil in a bid to arrest him.

On Tuesday morning, he surrendered to the operatives, who drove him away in a white Hiace bus followed by three other vehicles to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad facility at Guzape, Abuja.

Sources said the lawmaker representing Kogi West surrendered to the police after some of his senator friends received assurances from the police authorities that he would not be taken to Lokoja where he alleged he might be assassinated.

It was gathered that Melaye, on suspecting that the police were taking him to Kogi State, engaged the officers in the bus in a scuffle and managed to jump out of the van after it was blocked by unidentified vehicles around 2.10pm.

An eyewitness said about five hefty men, believed to be the embattled lawmaker’s supporters, emerged from nowhere in two pick-up vans and made to spirit the senator away in their vehicles.

The situation caused pandemonium in the area as the policemen who were shocked by the audacious act, threatened to shoot the lawmaker and his supporters.

This led to a scuffle during which the lawmaker was allegedly manhandled by the policemen.

Eyewitnesses said Melaye sustained injury during the incident and he was subsequently rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

One of the eyewitnesses, who spoke in confidence with The PUNCH, said, “The drama began at 2.10pm and lasted for about six minutes with Melaye’s boys in two Hilux pick-ups double-crossed the police escort and this gave Melaye the opportunity to jump out of the police van.

“Three policemen picked him up and attempted to throw him into the vehicle, but he resisted and later fell on the ground while shouting, ‘You must shoot me, you must kill me here, I am not going with you to Kogi or anywhere’.”

The police alleged that Melaye had contracted one Kabiru Seidu and his gang as political thugs, adding that the lawmaker met with the suspect on Airport Road, Abuja inside his car in December, 2017 and gave him a bag containing an AK47 rifle, two pump-action guns and N430,000 to share with his boys.

The police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, could not be reached for comment on the incident as he did not respond to calls. He had yet to respond to an SMS as of the time of filing this report.

The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, also refused to comment on the drama when confronted by journalists during the inauguration of the Muhammadu Buhari Housing Estate, Mbora, built for policemen.

“No, I can’t comment on him because we are not here for that purpose,” he said.

Meanwhile, the IG has ordered a probe into an attempt by Melaye to escape from lawful custody as he was being taken by armed escort on Tuesday.

The force spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, said in a statement that the lawmaker was aided by miscreants to escape, adding that he was later trailed to the Zanklin Hospital.

He said, “At about 1200hrs of today (Tuesday), Senator Dino Melaye, while in lawful custody of the Nigeria Police Force personnel and being taken for arraignment in Federal High Court, Lokoja from Abuja, escaped from lawful custody when hoodlums and miscreants in two Toyota Hilux vehicles blocked the police vehicle conveying Senator Dino Melaye around Area 1 Roundabout, Abuja and in the process the senator jumped out of the police vehicle through the window and was rescued from the policemen by hoodlums and miscreants to an unknown destination.

“The police team reinforced and trailed Senator Dino Melaye to Zankli Hospital, Abuja where he was re-arrested.

“The Senator would be arraigned in court without further delay.”

The police added that one of the Toyota Hilux vehicles used by the hoodlums in aiding Melaye’s escape had been recovered by the police investigation team.

“The IG has therefore directed a thorough investigation into the circumstances leading to the rescue and escape of Senator Dino Melaye from lawful custody,” the statement said.

The police have deployed an ambulance in Zankli Hospital, Abuja apparently to take Melaye away from the hospital

The PUNCH gathered that over 30 policemen were deployed in the hospital on Tuesday evening.

The  vicinity was also cordoned off by armed policemen, a development that unsettled patients and visitors to the hospital.

The embattled lawmaker described his escape from police as “a last resort” to frustrate an alleged plan to kidnap and kill him in Kogi State.

A statement  in Abuja on Tuesday by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Gideon Ayodele, said Melaye was not officially invited by the police contrary to claims that  he evaded arrest.

The statement read, “…For the avoidance of doubt, he had never evaded police invitation before now because there was none extended to him in the first place. Rather, what the Force PPRO, Mr. Jimoh Moshood, had been doing was to summon the senator through media briefings, a practice which is unconventional.”

The statement added , “Contrary to online reports about jumping out of a moving police vehicle, nothing could be farther from the truth as such insinuation is practically impossible for a man sandwiched between gun-wielding policemen. Today’s incident was a last resort by Melaye in order foil an attempt to kidnap him and kill him by the agents of the Kogi State governor in connivance with the police.”

Meanwhile, the Senate spent most of its plenary on Tuesday behind closed doors, where members discussed issues affecting the chamber including the recent clampdown on senators by security and anti-corruption agencies.

The activities of a group of senators, under the auspices of the Parliamentary Support Group, who are loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari and against the amendment to the Electoral Act 2010, were also discussed.

The closed session lasted almost three hours. Immediately the senators got to the chamber, they went behind closed doors at 10:55am. It was opened at 1:25pm.

The prolonged closed session had forced the Senate to step down all items on the Order Paper for the day, while motions moved by members were deferred to Wednesday.

A source, who was at the closed session, disclosed to one of  our correspondents that the lawmakers lamented that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was now moving against them.

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