Lawyer and activist, Femi Falana (SAN) has advised Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West, to submit himself for arrest by the Police in order to end the drama and the unwarranted inconvenience to which his family and neighbours have been subjected in the past six days.
Falana who gave the advise in a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday in reaction to the insistence of the Police to arrest Senator Dino Melaye on the allegation that he has committed the offences of criminal conspiracy and attempted culpable homicide, urged legislator of the upper chamber, to do so without any further delay.
He argued that “by politely requesting Senator Melaye to submit himself for arrest, the Nigeria Police Force has accorded him the special treatment that is normally reserved for Very Important Personalities (VIP’s) in Nigeria by security agencies”.
He contended that but for Senator Melaye’s privileged position in the country, the Police would have forcefully arrested him without laying any siege to his house.
He regretted that the decision of the senator not to submit himself for investigation, led to the situation where a team of police personnel have surrounded his residence with a view to effecting his arrest noting that the siege to the house by the Police had needlessly lasted for six days while the supply of electricity and water to the house has been disconnected by the Police. Such action cannot be justified in law.
To buttress his advice to the senator to submit himself for arrest, the senior lawyer cited a decided case relating to the matter.
He said: “the Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear in the case of Dr. Oladele Fajemirokun v Commercial Bank (Nig) Limited (2009) 21 WRN 1 that no court has the power to restrain the Police from arresting any citizen who is alleged to have committed a criminal offence”.
Senator Melaye, Falana noted, has however refused respond to the invitation of the Police on the grounds that the permission of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki was not sought and obtained.
Falana contended that the Nigeria Police Force is not required to seek the consent or obtain the permission of the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives before arresting a member of the national assembly who is alleged to have committed a criminal offence in any part of the country.
While admitting that the fundamental right of every citizen to personal liberty is guaranteed by section 35 of the Constitution of Nigeria and article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, he argued that such right may however be violated by the State if there is reasonable suspicion that any citizen has committed a criminal offence contrary to what he described as the misleading statement credited to the leadership of the Senate on the procedure for the arrest of legislators.
“Since legislators are not entitled to immunity under section 308 of the Constitution they are liable to be arrested, investigated and prosecuted if they are linked with the commission of any criminal offence. However. the arrest, investigation and prosecution must be conducted in strict compliance with the relevant provisions of the penal statutes and the Constitution”, he stated.
Falana however blamed the Police for the sensationalizing the planned arrest of the Senator Melaye.
“The Police ought to have effected the arrest of the Senator under the relevant provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 which empower the Police and other law enforcement to break into any house to arrest if there is evidence that any criminal suspect against whom a warrant of arrest has been issued by any court has absconded or is concealing himself or herself so that the warrant cannot be executed.
“By sending over 60 armed police personnel to arrest a citizen is exposing the federal government to ridicule”, he lamented.
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