There is no question many Nigerians are following the Dino Melaye-Police-moving-vehicle-hospital-court saga; it’s arguably the longest-running soap opera in the political space in 2018. But is anyone watching Melaye’s Twitter activity?
Summary of the drama
Melaye was arrested by the police on April 24 on allegations of criminal conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms, after some crime suspects reportedly told the police he was their chief supplier of arms. However, he jumped out of the moving vehicle with which the police were conveying him to a Lokoja court, eventually landing at the Zankili Medical Center, Mabuchi, Abuja.
Jimoh Moshood, spokesman of the Force, would later lead at least 30 armed policemen to the medical centre to arrest the Kogi West senator, who was eventually transferred to the National Hospital, Abuja, before having his day at an Abuja magistrate court.
He was granted bail in the sum of N90million and two sureties by the court, only to be immediately rearrested by the Police for onward transfer to Kogi State to answer to fresh charges orginally not covered by his initial arraignment.
A magistrate court in Lokoja denied him bail, instead ordering his remandment in prison till June 11 — a massive five weeks.
‘Dying man’ in court
The Police must have thought getting Melaye to court was drama over, but the soap that kicked off with his flight off a moving vehicle had only just begun: each time Melaye appeared in court, it was on a stretcher off an ambulance, eyes closed, arms stationary, body frame motionless — like a dying man.
It looked like a strategy destined to work — until he was betrayed by a good news. As Melaye was supposedly dying on hospital bed, his recall process by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) flopped. The much-publicised campaigne to ‘impeach’ him had not just failed but it did spectacularly: of the 189,870 signatories to the recall petition, only 18,742 (5.34 percent of the 351,146 registered voters) were verified by INEC, whereas at least 175, 573 (50 percent) were required.
Boisterous man on Twitter
An elated Melaye couldn’t resist the temptation of rushing to Twitter to have a sly dig at his political traducers.
“Every lie has an expiry date. Forces of evil will never triumph over forces of light. God is with us,” he tweeted. “Thank you my people. God bless you all. Thank you for the confidence reposed on me. I will not let you down. I will always stand by the truth and the people at all times. God bless Kogi West.”
That was no problem at all. Only that when he reappeared in court three days later, he was again motionless. Melaye’s supporters would readily argue that his Twitter account was being managed by a third party but the response to the failed recall was issued in First Person Singular — meaning Melaye was either talking directly on the social media platform, or the ‘tweeter’ had spoken with Melaye before making those statements on his behalf.
Whichever is the case, Melaye’s supposed ill-health as basis for his inability to defend himself in court has been exposed by his obsession with the social media. Can a man be healthy on Twitter yet sick in court?