A mild drama ensued in the premises of an Abuja Chief Magistrate’s Court sitting at Mpape, yesterday, as members of Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, who were in court for the case involving Senator Dino Melaye’s brother, Samuel, and three others clashed with over 50 armed policemen deployed to the court.
Trouble started after the policemen attempted to seize placards from protesting lawyers who stormed the court in solidarity with two of their colleagues arraigned with Melaye’s brother.
The quartet was charged to court for allegedly obstructing the arrest and movement of Senator Melaye to Lokoja, Kogi State, where he was to stand trial, having been implicated by some kidnappers who alleged he gave them the guns with which they operated.
The lawyers numbering over 100, resisted the move and held firm to their placards, even as they accused police authorities and the Federal Government of not only engaging in a witch-hunt, but also resorting to self-help. At a point, the police officers encircled the lawyers and demanded that they leave the court premises. The action attracted more lawyers, who immediately joined and intensified the protest, insisting they would not vacate the premises until their colleagues were released.
Mike Ozekhome, SAN, who was in court to defend the defendants, condemned what he described as an unconstitutional conduct of the security agents, who he said handcuffed the young lawyers while conveying them to the court for ruling on their bail application. Ozekhome said the country should resist a return to tyranny and undemocratic actions by the government.
Police had slammed the four defendants with criminal conspiracy, obstruction of public servant from performing his lawful duties, as well as abatement and assault on police officers.
Offenses the defendants committed were said to be contrary to sections 97, 85, 267 and 173 of the Penal Code Law. Meanwhile, five days after they were remanded in prison custody, an Abuja Chief Magistrate’s Court, yesterday, granted bail to Dino Melaye’s brother, Samuel, and three others.
Magistrate Mohammed Zubairu had last Wednesday, remanded the quartet in Kuje prison after they were docked by Nigeria Police Force for obstruction. The charge followed the incident at Area One Roundabout in Abuja, which botched alleged moves to forcibly relocate Melaye to Lokoja in Kogi State to answer to pending criminal allegations against him.