There was drama in the Senate yesterday as Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), technically defected to the Peoples Democratic Party during plenary, though without submitting a formal letter to that effect.
This was as he alleged that the Nigerian Police made two failed attempts to kill him while he was in their custody after being arrested for prosecution over alleged arms peddling and sponsorship of banditry in Kogi State.
Melaye, while appearing in plenary for the first time since April 24, when he was arrested by the Police, requested the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to direct the Chamber Sergeant-At-Arms, to provide him a comfortable seat at the PDP Wing in the Chamber, where he would be sitting till further notice.
The lawmaker said that his request was informed by the circumstance of his present state of health, pointing out that he was not comfortable to continue to sit at the All Progressives Congress (APC) Wing, indicating that relocating to the PDP sitting area would facilitate his quick recovery.
Dino, who walked into the Chamber with a walking stick and adorning neck brace, however, did not categorically say that he was defecting to the opposition party as he did not submit any formal letter as required by law.
The lawmaker, who took time to express his deep appreciation to the Senate, the House of Representatives, his constituents and other Nigerians for standing with him during his travails, particularly showered encomia on the Kogi State and the national leadership of PDP for defending him while he was travailing in police custody.
He also alleged that the Nigerian Police made two attempts to kill him during the period he was in their custody, claiming that the Police wanted to kill him first through harmful substances and second, through injection, but noted that God protected him in all the attempts.
Melaye said that his travails notwithstanding, he would continue to speak the truth and fight for the common man in the society.
His words: “I want to say that I am alive because God protected me. I want to say, Mr. President, that the Nigeria Police tried to kill me twice. One, through the process of a chemical substance and a second time through an injection. They actually came with an injection to inject me, but God intervened and to Him alone be the glory for ever and ever.
“I want to assure Nigerians that I will always stand by the truth and there is no amount of intimidation, harassment, name calling or blackmail that will deter me from speaking the truth.”
Requesting to relocate to the PDP camp in the Chamber, he said: “I have a special request to ask you Mr President that because of the trauma I went through and I’m still going through, I want to seek your indulgence to call on Sergeant-At- Arms to look for a comfortable seat for me on this side of the divide (opposition side of the chamber) because I am no longer comfortable sitting here (APC side).
“I want to ask Mr President that you asked the Sergeant-at-Arms to look for a comfortable seat for me and before you do that through the help of my walking stick, I will take a comfortable seat close to Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni (Plateau South) or former Senate President, David Mark. I want to thank you very much and, like I will always say, no retreat, no surrender.”
Immediately Melaye finished his submissions, some APC members fought desperately to stop the senator from having his request granted, which Saraki ignored and approved his relocation.
For instance, the Leader of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, raised point of Order 56(3), saying: “We don’t have choices when it comes to places to sit in the chamber because we are elected. Those who elected us chose for us where to sit and, therefore, the seat that will now be given to Senator Dino has to be properly set. If the seat has any problem, we can find another seat for him, including my seat. So, Mr President, I want to urge that our Chief Whip goes and brings back Senator Dino to his seat.”
But the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, raised a constitutional point of order (sections 4, 5 and 6) and asked the Senate to disregard the Senate Leader’s argument.
According him, the constitution provides for freedom of movement, noting that his present seat with PDP senators would now afford him easy movement.
“If he is traumatised outside, he cannot be traumatised here,” he said.