Days after alleged transfer of the case involving Senator Dino Melaye from a Kogi State High Court to the nation’s capital, Abuja, controversy has again been ignited after audible complaints began emanating from court officials and high ranking police officers in the state and national headquarters.
The allegation, this time, is that undue influence was brought to bear on the judiciary to have the matter transferred to Abuja after the Senator was serially quoted as insisting that he should not be tried in Lokoja, his state capital.
Sunday INDEPENDENT exclusively gathered that the case file was surreptitiously transferred to Abuja from Lokoja without the judiciary and police officers informed.
The newspaper was reliably informed that the decision was influenced by top echelon of the federal high court and that it only took intervention of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to douse tension.
It will be recalled that on January 19, 2018, the Police arrested two men, Kabiru Seidu, aka Osama, and Nuhu Salisu, aka Small, who allegedly confessed to kidnapping and armed robbery. They also alleged in their confessions that Senator Melaye and another influential politician from Kogi State had given them guns, ammunitions and undisclosed amounts of money to work for them as political thugs in the forthcoming elections.
The Federal High Court, Lokoja set a 28th March date for the arraignment of Melaye and the other suspects. However, in a letter dated 26th March 2018, and signed by his counsel, Rickey Tarfa, SAN, Senator Melaye applied for the transfer of the case out of Lokoja, alleging threats to his person.
Interestingly, the Police still believing that the case was at Lokoja filed an ex-parte motion asking the court to amongst other things set aside its ruling adjourning the matter to 10th May, 2018 for arraignment and set an earlier date for the arraignment of the accused persons.
At the hearing of the ex-parte motion on Thursday in Lokoja, Justice P.M Ayua while declining to hear the motion informed the Prosecution that the case file had been transferred to Abuja; hence the application should be filed in Abuja.
The prosecutor, who was visibly stupefied, expressed his displeasure with the manner of the transfer. He explained that the Police was never consulted before or informed of the transfer.
Further investigations by the newspaper further showed anomalies in the said transfer. For instance, Rickey Tarfa’s application for transfer dated 26th March 2018, was allegedly, not served on the police which filed the charges ostensibly to put them on notice.
It was learnt that the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Abdul Kafarati, who transferred the case, did not on seek the opinion of the police who filed the charge on their position or response to the allegations of insecurity upon which the application for transfer was hinged.
The case file was reportedly retrieved by a staff of the Federal High Court, Abuja from Lokoja on the 28th day of March, 2018 without the knowledge of the handling Judge in Lokoja and the court staff.
They were oblivious of the transfer so much so that they continued to tell the police to ignore news of the transfer for days after it broke in the news, insisting the file was still with them in Lokoja, whereas the file had been moved to Abuja.
As also learnt from sources in the police, letter of the Acting Chief Judge dated 28th March, 2018 transferring the matter to Justice Quadri of the Federal High Court, Abuja is yet to be sent to the Police and the Judge handling the matter in Lokoja as of 9th April, 2018. Whereas Senator Dino Melaye accurately celebrated the transfer in the media as of 29th March 2018, nearly a fortnight ago.