By Samuel Ogundipe
Nigerian senator, Shehu Sani, on Wednesday said he was not able to immediately say whether his hospitalised colleague, Dino Melaye, was “stable or not”, hours after visiting him in hospital.
Mr Sani, from Kaduna Central, was among the dozens of senators who stormed the National Hospital in Abuja to ascertain Mr Melaye’s health on Wednesday afternoon.
“He was not on handcuffs but on drips,” Mr Sani said in a Fecebook update. “He was barely able to speak and his neck was bandaged. I’m not a medical Doctor or a Nurse to conclude whether that means ‘stable or not’.”
“That is the truth,” he added.
Another senator who also met with Mr Melaye said the Kogi senator had been moved to the intensive care unit and that police and hospital officials left him unfed for nearly a day.
The senators had earlier postponed plenary to create enough time for the visit. They arrived at the hospital at 1:29 p.m. in four buses.
Mr Melaye reportedly jumped out of a moving police vehicle on Tuesday afternoon while protesting police’s decision to move him to Lokoja, the capital of his home state of Kogi.
Mr Melaye said he had obtained a court order for the criminal case that police have against him to be tried in Abuja, saying he his life would be in danger in Kogi.
He was rushed to a private hospital in Utako District, Abuja, after jumping and wounding himself.
A medical official at Sanklin Medical Centre where Mr Melaye was initially taken told PREMIUM TIMES there were preliminary indications that the senator had broken a vertebrae, but was not in critical condition.
Shortly after news broke that Mr Melaye had been hospitalised at Sanklin, the police stormed the facility to arrest Mr Melaye.
He was chained to a stretcher and moved to the National Hospital Tuesday evening, where he had remained ever since. Some of his colleagues who visited him in hospital expressed grave concerns about the state they met Mr Melaye in interviews with PREMIUM TIMES.
Of immediate concern to the senators was Mr Melaye’s inability to speak or feed, according to one of them who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES strictly on anonymity because he was not a Senate spokesperson or leader of the entourage.
Senate President Bukola Saraki led the senators to the hospital. Although he said Mr Melaye had not been fed for about 24 hours, he held back the details the situation.
But one of the senators said hospital officials and the police are to blame for the situation.
“Hospital officials said it is not their responsibility to feed him but only to administer medication,” the senator said. “The police said they are afraid of feeding the senator to avoid being suspected should anything untoward happen to him.”
Mr Melaye’s family members are also said to be aware of the situation, but they declined to supply him food until they are formally informed by the police that the senator is in custody.
The police reportedly declined to yield to the demand of the family members. Police spokesperson Jimoh Moshood did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ request for comments about the dispute over the senator’s feeding.
The senators were also angered by the presence of police at the hospital.
“They are standing everywhere and harassing everyone as if the senator committed treason,” one senator said.
Another senator said Mr Melaye was inaudible throughout their visit, but was able to open his eyes.
Before yesterday’s incident that landed him in hospital, Mr Melaye had underlying medical conditions that included asthma, Mr Saraki told reporters after emerging from the unit where Mr Melaye was being treated.
He, however, said Mr Melaye was stable and was being attended to by medical professionals, including a cardiologist.
The police insist they would transport Mr Melaye to Lokoja to stand trial in a string of criminal allegations that included murder and armed robbery. Some suspects had allegedly confessed to being armed and financed by Mr Melaye.
The senator denied the allegations, saying his ordeal was orchestrated by Governor Yahaya Bello, his erstwhile ally with whom he had been locked in fierce political rivalry for over a year.
Mr Bello denied the allegations, saying Mr Melaye’s recklessness had finally caught up with him.
The senate summoned Inspector-General Ibrahim Idris for questioning about the controversy shortly before adjourning plenary Wednesday afternoon to visit the hospital.