By Vivian Okejeme Abuja and Ahmad Ibrahim Lokoja
The federal government, yesterday, asked Justice Olasumbo Goodluck of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Maitama, to revoke the bail it granted to Senator Dino Melaye, representing the western axis of Kogi State, due to his absence in court.
This was just a High Court sitting in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, granted bail to the senator after spending weeks under the watchful eyes of the Nigeria Police Force.
Melaye was granted N100,000 million bail sequel to not guilty plea to the charges brought against him by the federal government.
Melaye is facing a two-counts criminal charge over allegation that information he gave to the Nigerian Police Force about an assassination attempt on his life on 15 April 2017, was false.
The Attorney-General of the federation, had in the suit number CR/106/18, claimed that the embattled senator, had falsely incriminated the Chief of Staff to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Mr. Edward Onoja David, in the alleged assassination attempt on his life.
When the matter was called up for hearing, yesterday, the defendant (Melaye) was absent in court for his trial.
Consequently, counsel to the government, Mr. LabaranShuaibu, asked the court to revoke the bail earlier granted him or, summon the surety to appear before the court and show cause why he should not be committed to prison for the absence of the defendant.
“My lord, the defendant was granted bail by this court and the case was adjourned till today for hearing; but he is not present in court.
“The fact is that he was granted bail and he perfected the conditions and was released, whatever he may have done afterwards is not the business of this court. “In the circumstance my lord, we shall be applying for this court to order the surety to the defendant to come and show cause. Otherwise, we shall be compelled to ask that the bail be revoked”, Shuaibu added.
Responding, counsel to the defendant, Mr. Ricky Tarfa, SAN, accused FG of concealing the true facts and circumstances of the case to the court.
“My lord, I expected the prosecution to be more forthright by laying the facts bare before this court.
“After the last proceeding, the defendant has been charged before different courts. One in Abuja granted him bail, but immediately he was released, he was taken on a stretcher to Lokoja the following day; and charged before a Magistrate Court.
“That court refused him bail. However, an application was made before a High Court in Lokoja which took into consideration the facts of the case and ordered that the defendant should be taken into Police custody for proper medical care pending the determination of his bail application.
“His bail application before that court was adjourned till today for ruling,”
Further in his argument, Tarfa submitted that the prosecution’s request for his client’s bail to be revoked would amount to persecution.
He maintained that such application could only be made when there is no explanation as to whereabouts of the defendant, adding that he was ready to produce the high court order that remanded Melaye in police custody.
In a short ruling, Justice OlasumboGoodluck
She said the defence lawyer ought to know the proper thing to do if his client was indisposed to attend his trial.
“Even the explanation itself should be properly brought before this court because you don’t know how far this case can go. It is either you bring the said court papers or it will be tidier for the surety to come and show cause as he guaranteed the physical attendance of the defendant in court for his trial”.
The Judge continued that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, made provisions on how criminal trials should be conducted in the absence of a defendant,
“The defence counsel is to take appropriate steps to explain the absence of the defendant”, the court held.
The matter was adjourned to continue today.