Dino Melaye, the brash senator representing Kogi West senatorial district in the National Assembly has again been linked with armed robbery and political thuggery.
The spokesperson for the Nigeria Police Force, Jimoh Moshood had on Monday in Lokoja paraded two criminal suspects - Kabiru Saidu and Nuru Salisu, arrested with two AK47 rifles, five pump action guns, two locally made pistols and charms.
The Police said the suspects arrested on January 19 at Ogojueje in Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State, after a shootout confessed to being hired by Melaye to cause mayhem in the state.
“According to the gang leader, Osama, he had been working as a political thug for Alhaji Mohammed Audu."
“He said Alhaji Mohammed Audu invited him to Abuja and introduced him to Senator Dino Melaye and they met on Airport road, Abuja inside Senator Melaye’s car in the month of December 2017."
“The suspect further confessed that Sen. Dino Melaye told him that they should start working for him as his political thugs and they should recruit and train other thugs to work for him in preparation for the 2019 general elections to enable him ( Sen. Dino Melaye ) challenge his political opponents and disorganize Kogi State.”
The police added that Osama also confessed that Melaye handed over a bag containing one AK47 rifle, two pump action guns, and the N430,000.00 to share with his boys.
The Police spokesperson said the Senator has refused to come and clear himself of the allegations despite a letter of invitation sent to office of the Senate President to invite him.
Nevertheless, the Police said a case of criminal conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms have been filed against Alhaji Muhammed Audu, Melaye and the two accused persons at a Federal High Court in Lokoja.
Dino is treading a familiar path. In 2008, the Kogi West senator was linked to the death of one Mr. Victor Obafaiye who was a principal witness in a petition filed against the election of Melaye then as a member of House of Representatives by the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria.
The Senator had contested the federal constituency seat on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
As it was noted in American State Department report in 2007, Mr. Obafaiye Mr. Obafaiye who was said to be in possession of documents that might have shown that Melaye tampered with election results was murdered before he could appear in court to testify.
“On August 19, Victor Obafaiye, the principal witness for the Action Congress in the Kogi State Election Tribunal, was assassinated”, the report stated.
Melaye was not directly accused of masterminding Mr. Obafaiye’s murder in the report, but the State Department said it considered the case one of the significant instances where the use of violence undercuts the practices of electoral democracy in Nigeria.
Trouble seems to be piling up for the senator regarded as the chief ‘enforcer’ of Bukola Saraki, the equally dubious president of the Nigerian Senate.
Just before the suspects arrested in Kogi named him as their sponsor, the Senator was arraigned on a two count charges of giving false information that there was an attempt to assassinate on him to the police.
He was arraigned before Justice Olasunmbo Goodluck’ court, on March 1, 2018. He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The troubles of the Senator were compounded a few days later when the Court of Appeal gave green light to the Independent National Electoral Commission to continue the process of his recall by members of his senatorial district which was suspended because of a suit he initiated to challenge it.