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Abuja court orders defence lawyer to explain Melaye’s absence

Abuja court orders defence lawyer to explain Melaye’s absence

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Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

Justice Olasunbo Goodluck of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, Abuja, on Wednesday ordered lawyers to the embattled Senator Dino Melaye, who is grappling with multiple criminal charges, to, within 24 hours, explain the absence of the senator from court proceedings.

The court gave the order on Wednesday, the same day the High Court of Kogi State in Lokoja delivered a ruling on a bail application filed by Melaye who was said to be in Police custody.

The Lokoja court granted Melaye bail in absentia, with a surety for N10m.

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Melaye’s absence from the Abuja court on Wednesday prevented the prosecution from opening its case in respect of the two counts of giving false information concerning an assassination attempt on his life to the Police in April 2017.

In the case, the senator was accused of deliberately giving false information to the Police to frame Mr. Edward Onoja David, who is the Chief of Staff to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.

Melaye had cited David as the mastermind of the alleged assassination attempt.

The police said they discovered the alleged falsehood in Melaye’s claim while investigating the alleged attempt on his life at his hometown in Ayetoro-Gbede in Kogi State.

The senator, on March 1, 2018, pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against him by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation on January 31, 2018.

He is facing two other charges, one of which bordered on gun-running, before a Magistrate’s Court in Lokoja, Kogi State.

The other set of charges filed before a Magistrate’s Court in Abuja included an attempted suicide, which he allegedly committed by jumping off a Police vehicle while under arrest.

At the Wednesday’s hearing of the alleged frame-up case before the FCT High Court in Abuja, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Magaji Labaran, said that he was set to open his case by calling the first prosecution witness, but expressed worry over the defendant’s absence.

Labaran urged the judge to summon the person standing as surety for the bail granted the senator to explain the defendant’s whereabouts to the court.

But defence counsel, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), said Labaran did not give “a fair representation” of the facts leading to the defendant’s absence from court.

Tarfa said Melaye, while lying on a stretcher, was arraigned on the charges of attempted suicide before the Magistrate’s Court in Abuja, on May 2, 2018.

The court granted him bail, but the Police re-arrested him on the court premises and moved him to Lokoja the next day to face the gun-running charges.

According to the SAN, the Magistrate’s Court in Lokoja refused to grant bail to the senator, but a fresh application for his bail was promptly filed before the High Court of Kogi State in Lokoja.

He said the Lokoja High Court had fixed Wednesday (today) for its ruling on the bail application, but in the interim, ordered the Police to move the senator from the prison, where he was remanded by the Magistrate’s Court, to Abuja where he must be given adequate medical care by the Police.

Tarfa said that explained why his client was absent from the Wednesday’s proceedings.

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