Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Yakubu Dogara on Tuesday led other principal officers and members of the House to visit the lawmaker representing Kogi West Senatorial District Senator Dino Melaye at the National Hospital Abuja.
Dogara accompanied by his deputy Rep. Yusuff Lasun, Deputy Minority Leader Binta Bello and other members were received by former Speaker of the House Patricia Etteh and the Chief Medical Director of the hospital Dr Jaf Momoh.
The Speaker has remained vocal in his condemnation of police handling of Melaye as a suspect.
Dogara had warned that nothing should happen to the senator when his matter was recently raised on the floor.
He said: “All I can say is that nothing can happen to the senator. If anyone in this country commits an offence, the law is there for the person to be prosecuted or arraigned in court within the ambit of the law.
I don’t think the law supports a situation whereby someone is in a dire health situation and is being arraigned most especially that that person is a senator.
“It is unthinkable that a distinguished senator or an honorable member of this house would run away from trial.
So, my admonition to the security agencies is to do everything possible to ensure that his life is secured first before prosecution.
“Prosecution cannot come at the expense of death and that is very important because if anything happened to him, the responsibility will lie on the security agencies.
That is without mincing of words; because I have not seen a country where someone will be arraigned in a stretcher; where he is not even in the right frame of mind to even take a plea.
What use is it if you’re taken someone to court and he cannot plead guilty or not guilty. So, the emphasis should be on his health first.
Also on Monday, Dogara said was unacceptable for the police to continue to operate like a clan of tribesmen, a sort of upgraded barbarians.
Dogara argued that Nigeria is a democracy and all persons and institutions including law enforcement agencies must operate within the ambit of the law.
Speaking shortly after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House Abuja, Dogara disclosed that he
and president of the Senate Bukola Saraki raised the issue of treatment meted to Senator Dino Melaye by the police with the president.
“Nigeria is a democracy. The police must operate within the ambit of the rule of law and due process. It is unacceptable for the police to continue to operate like a clan of tribesmen, a sort of upgraded barbarians”, he said.
“Anything that happens to one of our members or any member of the National Assembly is of concern to us. And there is no way we can have this kind of meeting without raising that.
“This is a civilian administration, it is democracy and it is imperative and very very important that all institutions of democracy operate within the ambit of the rule of law.
“There is no where, I have said it before that police will behave in a democracy like a clan of tribesmen, like upgraded barbarians sort of. So there is need for us to act with civility.
“We are not saying that anybody should be protected and defended. Once you have committed an offence, our law says you should answer it but you just have to utilise the provision of our constitution, the rule of law and this administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has over emphasised in order to bring people to book.
“But a situation where people are wheeled to court, that doesn’t give a good image of our democracy. I have not seen a democracy where people are wheeled to court, they are not in the proper frame of mind and they are forced to undergo trial.
“Whatever it is, even if Dino is pretending as some have said in some section of the media, he cannot pretend forever. He is there, he will not run away, he is a senator and he can be tried any time he is in proper frame of mind.
“As a lawyer, I can tell you, any judge that assesses an accused person not to be in a proper frame of mind, even if the accused person pleads guilty, he is duty bound by law to record a plea of guilt if he is not satisfied as to the soundness of the mind of the accused person,” he said.