By Bukola Olasanmi
The Federal Government, on Thursday, arraigned Senator Dino Melayebefore an FCT High Court at Maitama on a two-count charge bordering on allegation that he gave false information to the police over assassination attempt made on his life on 15 April, 2017.
FG alleged that Melaye who is representing Kogi West Senatorial District, falsely incriminated the Chief of Staff to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Mr. Edward Onoja David, in the said assassination attempt.
Melaye was said to have told Abubakar, a son of a former governor of Kogi State in a telephone conversation how he framed Edward Onoja David in the assassination attempt.
Count one of the charge read: “That you, Senator Dino Melaye, male, of the Senate, National Assembly, Three Arms Zone, Abuja, on or about the month of April 2017 at the Police Force Headquarters, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court in the cause of an investigation into the alleged assassination attempt on you, sometimes in April 2017, you gave information to the police stating that one Mr. Edward Onoja David (Chief of Staff to the Governor of Kogi State) did mastermind the attack with intent to convict him for the offence which statement you either knew or believe to be false and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 140 of the Penal Code Law, Cap. 89, Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963.”
Meanwhile, Melaye who pleaded not guilty to the charge, through his lawyer, Mr. Ricky Tarfa, SAN, prayed the court to grant him bail pending the hearing and determination of the case.
The embattled lawmaker based his bail request on sections 35, 36(5) of the 1999 constitution as amended, as well as sections 158 and 163 of the ACJA, 2015.
However, the prosecution counsel, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, urged the court to reject the bail request, alleging that Melaye evaded service of the court processes on him.
FG further told the court that Melaye would use his position to intimidate the witnesses if released.
In her ruling, Justice Olasumbo Goodluck, held that FG failed to adduce sufficient evidence capable of warranting the court to deny Melaye bail.
She held that FG’s counter-affidavit “was bereft of persuasive evidence in opposition to the application for bail”, adding that the prosecution failed to controvert depositions in Melaye’s application.
The court held that the defendant is consitutionally presumed innocent until proven guilty, saying the prosecution was unable to establish with cogent and admissible evidence, why Melaye should be denied bail.
Therefore, the court granted Melaye bail to the tune of N100, 000, even as he was ordered to produce a surety that must be a civil servant not below grade level 14.
The court held that the surety must be in the Federal Civil Service and must prove that he is resident within the Federal Capital Territory.
The case was subsequently adjourned till May 16 and 17 for trial.