By Eric Elezuo
Reactions have trailed the arrest, early Monday morning in Abuja of the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial Zone, Dino Melaye, and the subsequent release after a stand-off that lasted about two and a half hours.
His spokesperson, Mr. Gideon Ayodele confided in the Premium Times through a phone conversation about the release. He was quoted as saying: ““Yes, he had been released…”
Melaye was reportedly arrested by the Nigerian Immigration Service at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Monday morning while on his way to Morocco to an official assignment sponsored by the Nigerian government when he was held by security.
“He was released after the police couldn’t pin anything on him. The immigration officials who thought they were trying to help the police when they initially detained him were also embarrassed that the police couldn’t take him into custody,” Ayodele said.
His arrest which followed weeks of controversies between the senator and the police. While some welcomed it as deserving of a controversial lawmaker, others criticised the arrest as an act of executive recklessness.
Before his release, some of his colleagues at the Senate, like Ben Murray-Bruce, had condemned the arrest and called on federal authorities to release him immediately.
His arrest was initially linked to the police, who have been on a manhunt for him for several weeks, and had declared the lawmaker wanted for his alleged links to violence in Kogi state.
Melaye has however denied wrongdoing, alleging that his ordeal was politically-motivated.
While most Nigerians believe that the police would use the opportunity to enforce their own arrest warrant, they were surprise to see Police set him free. Reports also have it that much as the senator was declared wanted many months ago, he still goes about with police escort in his retinue of security team.
Another account also suggests that Melaye reportedly met with Kogi Police Commissioner, the same officer that declared him wanted, at a burial event two weeks ago. It is not therefore, why the Police will declare him wanted, and yet won’t arrest him even when he has not absconded.
Premium Times also reported earlier in the month that The Interpol had told it that it had not placed Melaye on its watch list contrary to Nigeria police’s claims.
The skirmishes between the Police and the vocal lawmaker is still unfolding.