By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, George Opara and Kanayo Umeh (Abuja)
Sen. Dino Melaye was arrested at the international wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on my way to Morocco for an official engagement sponsored by the Federal Government after checking in. Photo: Twitter/dino_melaye
• ’It is a threat to democracy, unacceptable’
• Why we stopped him from travelling, by NIS
The Senate leadership has condemned the siege laid by policemen to Senator Dino Melaye’s house in Abuja yesterday, describing it as an embarrassment to democracy.
Melaye, whose trip to Morocco was aborted earlier at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, was said to have been followed to his house at number 11, Sangha Crescent, Maitama district of Abuja by a team of policemen led by Assistant Commissioner of Police, John Haruna.
The stern-looking and battle-ready policemen cordoned off the No 11 Sangha road. The security agents numbering up to 20 were stationed directly in front of Melaye’s house. Motorists are disallowed the use of the road.
The Senate Deputy Minority Whip, Philip Aduda, who led some of his colleagues to Melaye’s house, described the situation as an embarrassment.
“I led this team of senators here to find out what is happening. We have seen the situation and we will now report back to the presiding officers. It is embarrassing to democracy, and very unacceptable. This is no democracy at all,” Aduda said.
Among the senators who visited the scene are Rafiu Ibrahim, Atai Aidoko, Abiodun Olujumi and Isa Missau.
Olujumi said Nigeria’s democracy was being threatened by what she called serious anti-democratic tendencies.
Frank Tietie, who introduced himself as the legal adviser to Melaye, described as horrible the fact that the freedom of Nigerians was being trampled upon. He said there was no legal basis for the siege.
The situation became more tensed when other protesters arrived at the scene. Some women numbering about 50 from some Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps were among the protesters.
At the time of writing this report, the protesters and the policemen were still at the Melaye’s residence.
While the siege was on, Melaye took to his Twitter page to announce that over 30 armed policemen were around his house. “All roads leading to my house have been blocked by heavily armed mobile policemen. They currently lay siege to the house.”
The siege came after the senator was arrested and released at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja on his way to Morocco.
Officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) were said to have informed Melaye that he was on the Interpol watch list and could not be allowed to travel out of the country, adding that the embattled lawmaker was detained based on an order from the police. They denied arresting the lawmaker.
The NIS spokesman, Sunday James, in response to a query on the matter yesterday in Abuja stated the senator was only denied departure out of the country based on instructions from the police.
He said the lawmaker had been placed on a no-flying list, maintaining that the NIS acted within its constitutional powers.
The senator was released some hours later.
Melaye’s travail may not be unconnected with his refusal to report at the Kogi State Police Command over allegations of conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms in a suit filed before a Federal High Court in Lokoja.
But Tietie said Melaye could not submit himself to the Lokoja Police Command because he did not feel safe there. He said his client would be freer to submit himself to the police headquarters in Abuja.