Dino Melaye causes further controversy by entering senate with surgical collar and sitting with PDP

CONTROVERSIAL lawmaker Senator Dino Melaye has created a fresh stir in the senate after he limped into the senate this morning wearing a collar around his neck and sat on the opposition benches with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators.


Despite being elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to represent the Kogi West Senatorial District, Senator Melaye has had several brushes with the federal government. After surviving a recall attempt, he was recently arrested but jumped out of a police vehicle taking him into custody and is currently out on bail pending the determination of his case.


Over the last month, Senator Melaye has been in hospital, apparently recovering from the effects of him jumping out of the police van. Today, however, he made a dramatic entrance into the senate, entering the chambers and sitting next to the PDP senators, rather than with his APC colleagues.


Senator Melaye’s decision to take an interim seat near where the former senate president David Mark usually sits, has sent observers wondering if it was his subtle announcement of a defection to the opposition PDP. He had urged senate president Bukola Saraki to order the sergeants-at-arms to create a space for him on the side of the opposition PDP, saying he would sit near Senator Mark in the interim.


After his speech, PDP members ushered him to a sit beside Senator Mark, who was absent at the proceedings. Senator Saraki, however, ruled that there was no need for Senator Melaye to relocate to another seat.


Majority leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, also raised a point of order saying that Senator Melaye remains a member of the ruling APC and could only change seats on the side of the house dedicated to the majority party. Senator Lawan then asked the chief whip, Senator Sola Adeyeye, to take Senator Melaye back to the APC section.


However, the deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, saw the issue differently. Quoting the relevant sections of the constitution, Senator Ekweremadu argued that it was part of ensuring Senator Melaye’s welfare, which is part of the duties of government to its citizens, that ‎the lawmaker should be allowed to sit anywhere he chooses. ‎


Also, the minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, said the PDP caucus would welcome Senator Melaye to sit with them as part of being their brother’s keeper. He also noted that any member of the Senate is free to sit in any part of the chamber.


Eventually, Senator Melaye settled for a seat in the PDP section, where he sat  in a cervical collar and with a walking stick. This is the first time Senator Melaye would be at the senate in over one month.


Senator Melaye, who is facing charges if gun-running and attempted suicide, among others thanked his colleagues for their support. He raised a point of order to thanks the senate, the House of Representatives and the leadership of both chambers for defending him during his travails.