The House of Representatives, yesterday, issued a stern warning to security agencies, particularly the police, about the security of Senator Dino Melaye.
Melaye, who represents Kogi-West Senatorial District at the Senate, was said to have been driven in a police ambulance from Abuja to Lokoja, yesterday.
The embattled senator was stretchered into the Magistrates’ Court in Lokoja, where he was arraigned on gun-running allegations by the Police.
The senator was later remanded in custody till June 11.
But the House said in Abuja that the sight of Melaye on a stretcher was reminiscent of that of a sick man who should have received medical attention before his arraignment.
The House’s reaction came after a member from Kogi State, Mr. Karimi Sunday, raised a point of personal explanation on the floor to bring the “plight” of Melaye to the attention of members.
Sunday had alleged that Melaye was being persecuted by the Kogi State Government because of his strong views on certain issues affecting the state.
He stated: “Melaye is facing persecution from the state government because of his beliefs.
“We must do all that is within our constitutional powers to ensure that the rule of law prevails.
“What is happening to Melaye today can happen to any of us tomorrow, if we keep quiet.”
The Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, while ruling on the matter, said the House was satisfied with the steps taken so far by the Senate and was solidly behind the upper chamber.
“All I can say at this point is that nothing must happen to Senator Melaye.
“If any law has been breached, the police must ensure that his life is secured first.
“If anything happens to him, the security agencies will be held accountable.
“I have not seen in any country where someone is arraigned on a stretcher to take pleas. How do you even take his pleas?
“He must be alive first to answer to your charges because his life comes before the prosecution,” Dogara added.
Meanwhile, the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Dino Melaye, was yesterday denied bail in the case of an alleged conspiracy and aiding of jailbreak.
The lawmaker was brought to a Lokoja Senior Magistrate Court, Kogi State, in a police ambulance around 9:17 am, yesterday.
However, before his arrival, heavily armed policemen took positions within and outside the court premises.
As the case commenced, the prosecution, Alex Isihon, stated that the court did not have the jurisdiction to entertain the case.
But counsel for Melaye, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, in his submission, argued that the court had the powers by virtue of the Constitution to try the case.
He quoted Section 60 of the Penal Code, which stated that the offence of conspiracy was bailable according to the Kogi State Administration of Criminal Justice.
After a short recess, Chief Magistrate Suleiman Abdulahi denied Melaye bail, and ruled that he should remain in police custody for the next 39 days.
The case was then adjourned until June 11, 2018.
It would be recalled that the arrival of the senator in court had attracted the attention of workers and others who came for transactions.
Other courts within the premises were also not sitting as at the time of this report.
Also, journalists and other person’s that had seated in court for hours were all asked to go out for security checks.
At the end, only few were allowed inside.
The senator had before being brought to court first taken to the SARS headquarters near the NTA office in Lokoja.
Melaye was declared wanted following his refusal to appear before the police to answer to accusations by some arrested suspects, who alleged that the senator supplied them with arms and ammunition.
According to reports, Melaye was conveyed in an ambulance by the police authorities to Lokoja.
Melaye was later brought into the Lokoja Senior Magistrates’ Court, 2, on a stretcher, source said.
He was brought in a Toyota Hiace police ambulance bus with registration number NPF2214D.It was learnt that some journalists who had laid siege to the courtroom were asked to step out for security screening.
In order to face the pending criminal case in Kogi, Dino Melaye was re-arrested, last Wednesday, after his arraignment in court and perfecting his bail conditions.
The lawmaker representing Kogi West was arraigned by the Police on Wednesday at Chief Magistrate Court in Wuse in Abuja.
He was granted bail in the sum of N90million by the court, having met the bail condition but was rearrested by the police shortly after his release.
“The Police investigation team re-arrested Senator Dino Melaye today, 2nd May 2018 after his arraignment at Chief Magistrate Court, Wuse for the pending offences of Criminal Conspiracy and Unlawful Possession of Prohibited Firearms already filed in a Court of competent jurisdiction in Lokoja for which he will be arraigned without further delay,” he said.
Moshood said that Melaye was arraigned in Abuja today for criminal conspiracy, causing damage to government property, attempted suicide and escape from lawful custody.
Melaye’s arraignment in court today according to the police was subsequent to his discharge from the National Hospital after he was confirmed fit for trial.
The Senator landed in the National Hospital after jumping out of a moving police vehicle on Tuesday, April 24.
The police vehicle was conveying him to Lokoja, Kogi State where he is expected to be interrogated by the police in connection with the allegation that he armed some thugs and in relation to other criminal activities.
The police subsequently accused him of making an attempt to commit suicide by jumping out of the vehicle conveying him and falling on the ground, with a threat to implicate the police for his supposed death.
He was also said to have resisted a further attempt by the police to re-arrest him with the help of some persons who allegedly threatened to injure the police officers if they tried to arrest him.
Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.
FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer
The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.
Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media
The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.
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