The police on Thursday said they are investigating the “purported kidnap” of a senator, Dino Melaye.
The police also contradicted a claim which Mr Melaye’s spokesperson made to PREMIUM TIMES, saying they did not receive any complaint that the senator was abducted.
Police spokesperson Jimoh Moshood said in a Thursday night statement that the Force Headquarters only read of the news of Mr Melaye in the media, but has no unique details about the development.
“The Nigeria Police Force have not received any complaint or report in any of its Police Stations or Divisions throughout the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) or any other State of the Federation of the kidnap of Senator Dino Melaye from any of his family member, friend, associate or staff to indicate that the Senator has been kidnapped.
“The attention of the police was drawn to the report of the purported kidnap of Senator Dino Melaye in some sections of the media,” Mr Moshood, an acting deputy police commissioner, said.
The spokesperson, however, said investigation would be conducted into the matter, urging anyone with actionable information to pass such to authorities.
The police have “commenced investigation into the purported kidnap of Senator Dino Melaye, and wish (sic) to implore any of his family members, relatives or friends who witnessed the kidnap or have information about the purported kidnap of the senator to report the incident at the nearest police station to assist the police in the investigation,” Mr Moshood said.
The statement contradicted what Gideon Ayodele, a spokesperson for Mr Melaye, told PREMIUM TIMES earlier today. The aide said the police in Gwagwalada, a suburb of Abuja, were informed about the alleged kidnap on Thursday morning.
Mr Ayodele did not immediately return PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comments about the police’s claims.
Mr Melaye was reportedly kidnapped while on his way to Lokoja to appear before a court in his ongoing criminal trial. Kogi police commissioner, Ali Janga, also confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that he invited Mr Melaye for questioning at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, but added that he had not seen the lawmaker hours after the scheduled time.
The appointment might have a lot to do with the recent violent encounter between Mr Melaye’s convoy and police officers at a checkpoint. Some of the senator’s security guards were said to have shot a police officer after a brawl at a checkpoint outside Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, last week.
The police said Mr Melaye, who was on a constituency-wide tour to commission projects at the time of the incident, must turn himself in to prevent being arrested for the offences of his aides. It was unclear whether he had met the police since the incident.
News that Mr Melaye was kidnapped has received mixed reactions from Nigerians, with some finding it difficult to believe and insinuating that he was only trying to prevent going to Lokoja. The senator’s associates, however, said he has no reason to be complicit in his own abduction.
“While it is true that Mr Melaye tried to avoid being forcibly taken to Lokoja some months ago, fearing threats to his life, that chapter has since closed after he was eventually arraigned in court and granted bail,” an aide to the senator said, pleading anonymity as he was not cleared for media relations.
“We do not think that someone who already has his bail intact and has been appearing in court would suddenly not want to appear again,” the aide aide. “It is completely illogical.”
However, a parliamentary source close to Mr Melaye told PREMIUM TIMES the senator had been freed by his abductors. The source,like the first, asked not to be named; thus raising more questions about the alleged abduction.
On Wednesday, Mr Melaye was in court where he had been answering charges of attempted suicide in Apo, Abuja.
He was, however, absent in court in Lokoja on Thursday where he is being tried for alleged possession of arms.
His lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, told the Kogi court on Thursday that his client was attacked on Wednesday; and he had not heard from him since.
Mr Ozekhome, represented by Yemi Mohammed, told the court that he had on good authority that Melaye was attacked in Gwagwalada on his way to Lokoja.
“I learnt that he was attacked yesterday (Wednesday) in Gwagwalada on his way to Lokoja to attend his trial and up till now, I have not been able to reach him, I don’t know where he is at the moment,’’ he said.