From Ignatius Okorocha (Abuja) and Ibrahim Obansa (Lokoja)
It was high stake drama yesterday as the police trailed the embattled Senator Dino Melaye, who was hospitalized at Zankli, a private hospital in Abuja, and re-arrested him.
There was confusion earlier in the day arising from the circumstances which led to Melayea��s admission at the hospital after the police had confirmed that he was in their custody.
The lawmaker was being conveyed to the court where the Federal Government had pressed charges against him with regard to alleged confessional statement of suspected armed robbers who the police said had linked Senator Melaye with the arms found on them.
However, after the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) prevented him from travelling to Morocco on Monday and the hide and seek game with the police same day, Melaye reportedly turned himself to the police.
But The AUTHORITY learnt that Melaye (APC, Kogi West) was on Tuesday morning freed by a mob when operatives of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) attempted to take him to Lokoja, Kogi State instead of the court in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), they had told him.
It was gathered that the lawmaker, who had turned himself to the police was initially detained at the FCT Police Command SARS facility in Abuja and was told that he would be taken to court at about 1:15pm.
Melaye, it was learnt, agreed to go to court with the armed operatives, but a twist ensued at Area 1 Roundabout, when they attempted to take him to Kogi State.
At this point, Melaye resisted the attempt to divert the vehicle and raised the alarm which attracted the attention of the mob.
One Mr. Peter Babayemi, who narrated the account to journalists, said that their attention was drawn to the lawmaker’s plea for help, and immediately the SARS vehicle was surrounded by a large crowd.
Babayemi said that the operatives were overwhelmed by the crowd and abandoned Melaye and sped off to avoid being hurt.
He said: a�?What happened was that we were at the Area One Roundabout when we saw the SARSa�� vehicle carrying someone. We saw the person struggling and shouting at the top of his voice. So, many people gathered to see what was happening. When we looked close, we saw it was Dino Melaye.
a�?Immediately, we started shouting that we know this man who is fighting for Nigerians and that there is no way they are taking him anywhere. Since some of us had read the news about what was happening to him, we said we wona��t allow them take him anywhere. That was how we rescued him from them and they drove away when people gathered,a�? he said.
After the incident, The AUTHORITY gathered that Melaye was taken to Zankli Hospital in Mabushi District of the FCT for medical attention.
Journalists who visited the hospital sighted the unconscious body of the lawmaker being wheeled from an ambulance on a stretcher into the emergency unit.
Less than an hour of his admission in the hospital, several truckloads of mobile policemen arrived in the area and barricaded the entrance to the street where the facility is located.
But in a statement he issued yesterday evening, Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), ACP Jimoh Moshood, said that Melaye had been re-arrested by the police.
He said: a�?At about 1200hrs of today (yesterday) Senator Dino Melaye while in lawful custody of the Nigeria Police Force personnel and being taken for arraignment in Federal High Court, Lokoja from Abuja, escaped from lawful custody when hoodlums and miscreants in two Toyota Hilux vehicles blocked the police vehicle conveying Senator Dino Melaye around Area 1 Roundabout, Abuja and in the process the Senator jumped out of the police vehicle through the window and was rescued from the policemen by hoodlums and miscreants to an unknown destination.
a�?The police team re-enforced and trailed Senator Dino Melaye to Zankli Hospital, Abuja where he was re-arrested. The Senator would be arraigned in court without further delay.
a�?Meanwhile, one of the Toyota Hilux vehicles used by the hoodlums and miscreants in aiding the escape of the Senator has been recovered by the police investigation team.
a�?The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) has therefore directed a thorough investigation into the circumstances leading to the rescue and escape of Senator Dino Melaye from lawful custody,a�? he said.