• Fani-Kayode condemns incident
• Judge adjourns case till August 9
The Nigeria Police Force has denied knowledge of the alleged kidnap of Dino Melaye.
The senator was scheduled to appear in court in Lokoja, Kogi State, yesterday in a case of alleged gunrunning.
Public Relations Officer of the Federal Capital Territory Police Command, Anjuguri Manza, told The Guardian yesterday that no official complaint had been filed on the matter.
The Kogi police command also said it was unaware of the issue.
Senator Ben Murray-Bruce (PDP, Bayelsa East) yesterday 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.”
Also, Gideon Ayodele, media aide to Melaye, disclosed that armed men in a Sienna car attacked Melaye in Gwagwalada as he journeyed to Lokoja, adding that the senator’s whereabouts remains unknown.
Melaye and dozens of federal lawmakers on Tuesday defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Nigerians on social media reacted to news of the ‘abduction’ with mixed feelings. Some admitted it was true. Many, however, described it as stage-managed, saying it bore similarities with Tuesday’s ‘blockade’ of Senate President Bukola Saraki’s residence by the police and Wednesday’s ‘obstruction’ of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom’s convoy by protesting youths.
Condemning the alleged kidnap, PDP chieftain and a former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, tweeted: “I wholeheartedly condemn the abduction of @dino_melaye. I implore those that have kidnapped him to return him home safely to his family and loved ones. I urge the Federal Government to do its job and protect the Nigerian people before it is too late.”
Senior Magistrate Sulyman Abdullah meanwhile adjourned the case till August 9, as the prosecution could not open its brief due to the absence of its lead counsel, Alex Izinyon.
Theophilus Oteme, head of the legal department of the Kogi police command, told the court that Izinyon received an emergency call on Wednesday, which made it impossible for him to appear. He therefore applied for an adjournment till September 23 for the commencement of trial, more so, as one of the defendants (Melaye) was not in court.
Lead counsel to Melaye, Mike Ozekhome, represented by Yemi Mohammed, told the court: “I learnt that he (Melaye) was attacked 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.”
In his ruling, Abdullah turned down the application by the prosecution for a long adjournment, saying the Kogi State Administration of Criminal Justice Law does not allow for adjournment beyond two weeks in criminal cases.
He ordered that the bail earlier granted Melaye continue and that the other two accused persons, Nuhu Salihu and Kabiru Seidu, be remanded in police custody.
In a related development, unknown persons abducted the parish priest of Saint Michael Catholic Church, Obajana, Rev. Fr. Leo Michael, Tuesday evening at Irepeni village, Adavi Local Government Area of Kogi State.
The kidnappers have made contact with members of the church and are demanding N8 million ransom.
Police spokesman William Aya confirmed the incident.