I am one of the most investigated Nigerians – Senator Dino Melaye tells his story

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– Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West senatorial district
revealed his stance on being known as a controversial politician

– Melaye addressed the thoughts of Nigerians on his flamboyant lifestyle and spoke on Saraki's trial at the CCT

– He also revealed what he went through at the times of the administration of the ex-president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan

Who would have known the shocking trials which Dino Melaye faced in the early years of his life?! Dino Melaye is a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria representing Kogi West. He is also the Senate committee chairman on FCT. In this exclusive interview with Chinenye Ugonna and Nnenna Ibeh of NAIJ.com, Melaye shared his life experience, facts about his career, thoughts on the Saraki's ongoing trial and many more.
Who is Dino Melaye?
Dino Melaye is one Nigerian who lives below politics. I am a distinguished senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a former member of the House of Representatives. I am a social crusader. I am an anti-corruption campaigner. I founded an NGO called Anti-corruption Network. I graduated from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, and I also attended the University of Jos. I went to the University of Abuja and studied political science. Even as I speak to you right now, I am still a student. I am doing another masters in international relations and diplomacy in ABU, Zaria. I am single. I have three kids. That's just me.
About growing up in the North
Growing up in the North was fantastic. The North used to be a very peaceful place. I was born in Kano and grew up in Kano. Had my first degree in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. I lived in Kaduna till graduation before I moved into Abuja. So all my life I have lived in the northern part of the country. Unfortunately, the north is not as peaceful as it used to be. Jos used to be a very tourist attraction centre because of the weather. Growing up as a child in the north was very interesting. I had the opportunity to have a cooperative religious knowledge. I have a very deep knowledge of the Quran, a little Arabic and those days there was no discrimination. It was fantastic!
About own flare for politics
My flare for politics has always been there. As a child, I was the first to organize the first protest in school when I was in form two. When we were being shortchanged in terms of feeding on the boarding school. I started the press club in secondary school and eventually became the head boy. I was also head boy in my primary school so I have always had the leadership skill at a very early part of my life. In university, I became the student union president so I will say it's inborn. I played politics in the university, I contested president of my university and I won. I rose to become the student general of the West African Union. Politics has always been part of my life and my definition of politics is an instrument to change the life of the down trodden. For me, politics must be developmental and once it's not, it's not constructive. It's an avenue to make the society a better place.

About achievements as a senator
The first motion of the Senate was mine which was the deplorable condition of the roads in my town which passed. As a result of that motion, the Senate set up a fact-finding committee to find out the statute of the Nigerian roads and, I can say because of this, one of the major roads I complained about is in the 2016 budget which is the road to kabba, some substantial amount of money has been provided in this year's budget. For the past two weeks, my contractors are in various sites. That is ongoing. We have a programmer coming up in three weeks which is one for widows and we are going to have the 13th edition in May where we empower widows. We also have a skill acquisition programme for the younger ones, also scholarship for the indigenes. We are also going to provide some automobiles for some organizations. Some buses have been purchased. I do not believe that politics will be an infrastructural purpose but human development in terms of creating jobs for my constituents that we get our share of the national cake and political appointment, we are not shortchanged or sidelined. I am sure we have a legislative agenda and we are going to follow it up.

About situation in Kogi state

The state and development has eluded us absolutely because of the past administration. There's is a lot of amelioration and commitments to be done. But now, we need to be more transparent. Completely underdeveloped, no sign of development. It is a glorified local government. We do hope and pray that with the APC now at the helm of affairs because of evaluation and monitoring within the party, we would be able to grade ourselves.
Remembering the late minister James Ocholli
Ocholli was a very great Nigerian, I regard him as one single Nigerian with multiple competencies, highly intellectually mobile and mentally sagacious. He helped in the building of the party, he helped in the founding of this party, he was a member of the constitutional committee at the formative stage of the APC and, more importantly, he is a gentleman, a pastor and reverend, a highly regarding family man. It is a great loss and growth to the people of Kogi state. James Ocholli was a very civil Nigerian, very patient, unassuming and very humble, it is a great loss.

On the day Ocholli died, I arrived the National Hospital Abuja in what people called "one of my unique cars". This also sent an uproar on social media. My reaction to that is that maybe people are just being myopic. That is a tricycle, that is a "Keke Napep". It has got three tyres, so I do not know what is exceptionally fantastic. I did not go there with a Ferrari, I did not go there with a Lamborghini, I did not go there with a Rolls Royce. It is a tricycle.

About investigating land allocation in Abuja since 1999
Yes, basically, we have set up machinery for the investigation on the allocation of lands and it is not just that we are interested in finding out how lands were allocated. It is because of the abuse of the Abuja master plan. Abuja is the only city in this country that is planned and if not properly tele-guided, we may end up having a Lagos in Abuja where the place becomes so crowded with houses built on green areas, houses built on sewage, pipelines and the eventual negative concomitant effect can be very disastrous.

So there is a need to main a strict adherence to the provisions of the master plan, if not, there would be congestion within the municipal and there would be no expansion and buildup of satellite towns. What we should concentrate on is the provisions of infrastructural facilities in satellite towns so that no one will need to live in Wuse, Asokoro or Maitama. You can live in the suburb and still benefit from what is happening in the city centers.

Then if those infrastructural facilities are provided, Shoprite can as well have a branch in Kubwa, in Gwarimpa, they can build a Shoprite in Gwagwalada, and other satellite communities of the FCT. So we have no compromise about that and irrespective of class, status or persons, we are going to make sure that the right thing is done. And we are ongoing on that and you will recall that some powerful Nigerians were already stopped from working on their construction sites. The illegal allocation of Maitama hills have been stopped and work have stopped in those places. I have no fear of any Nigerian, I mean, I fear no soul, and I only respect souls. And I can assure you that the right thing will be done, there would be no compromise in making sure that the regulations, laws and extant provision of this constitution is carried to the later.
"Abuja should compete with New York city, Abuja should compete with Washington DC, it should compete with Abu Dhabi. And that is what it should be because the city itself is modeled after Brazil and we must make sure that we correct our mistakes early enough before they become uncontrollable."
About threats to beat up James Manager
Unfortunately, only one media house reported it and that is SaharaReporters. You know who they are. No sensible person takes SaharaReporters seriously. It is a commercialized media outfit. Unfortunately, they are getting away with all they are doing because they are not registered corporately in Nigeria. They have no office, they are not a member of the Nigerian Union of Journalists. So it's just a cyber-operation of some commercialized purposes who report falsehood most times. I will not want to belabour myself from lies. If it were to be a major outfit, I would have reacted, but the truth is James Manager and I spoke last night. There is no reason for the reports, but Dino Melaye is a head to sell SaharaReporters news so that's why they mention my name every day. They should start paying me premium for using my name.

About being in the centre of controversies
The truth is the only one to be afraid of is God. He is the owner of my soul. If everyone keeps quiet in the face of obscurity, and injustice then the word will not be a better place. I fear no soul and my conscience is clear. I have never done government contracts in my life. Whether in states, federal and local government. I have never been in the executive where I manage funds so if I have never been involved in any government transaction, then that is why I am not afraid.

I have six university degrees. If I can't convert that to money, then I am intellectually stagnant, myopic and porous. I serve a God who answers prayers and he said he will grant my heart desires. So whatever my heart desire is to give him a call and He never gives me missed calls. He has been awesome in my life. I had a very lonely background. My parents could not pay my school fees at form 2. I trained myself through secondary school, I trained all my younger brothers and sister. I trained myself through university. I stay in the university then go for Minna and Kano for jobs and come back to school. I'm from a humble background and I am very proud of it.

So you can mentor Nigerians that you can make it from grass to grace. I want to tell Nigerians that you do not need to have a name with a NAFDAC number to be successful in this country. For those who think I am being flamboyant, they haven't seen anything yet.
My business is my business, but I will never do anything illegal.
I have worked as a bus conductor, sold mineral and Kunu, as attendants in filling stations. I have worked in Nickle Sweets in Kano. I worked there for six years. Whenever I am broke in school, I go there and work there all through the night. I bought my JAMB form from being a conductor. It has not been rosy. People always ask questions like what does he do, he is a thief etc. My business is my business. You want me to expose my business so you can destroy it? I am a politician. Whatever I do is my business, but I will never do anything illegal. I was arrested last year alone by Jonathan's administration 14 times.
I am one of the most investigated Nigerians maybe what they are yet to find out is where my placenta was buried and they will have to go to Kano to get that. Anyone who has any negative thing about me should please come out. Even right now, I am being investigated, petitions with the EFCC, some with the CCB, I even got information that the bureau is investigating me, I laugh at this because it will turn out to be a beautiful nonsense.

I am a straight Nigerian and have never been involved in anything illegal. Today I can buy a private jet and I will buy one and put a D on it. I did not steal, I cannot steal, and I will not steal. I abhor corruption so for SaharaReporters who are trying to say what they can say about me, they are just making me more popular.
"SaharaReporters listed my vehicles the other time and I told them you forgot that I also have a Rolls Royce Phantom, please add that. They said this house is valued at 1.3 billion and I told them they are undervaluing my property."
About the source of wealth
Definitely yes! I am not frivolous, I know the value of money. I am big time into properties. Most times when I am not working, I am on my sites and not only in Abuja, I do property business everywhere and it pays. I do a lot of consultancy outside this country and it pays. When I try to enjoy the dividend of hard work, people say he is corrupt.

SaharaReporters listed my vehicles the other time and I told them you forgot that I also have a Rolls Royce Phantom, please add that. They said this house is valued at 1.3 billion and I told them they are undervaluing my property. It's over 2 billion naira, because I did not steal.

The richest man today is Warren Buffet, he did not steal government money, the owner of Procter & Gamble did not steal but for some myopic minds, you have to be in government or steal government money to be rich. That assumption is myopic. Nigerians should encourage people who work hard to get what they have. I have a flare for cars and I have no regret about it.

Everyone has got its passion. Once you passion is not in the terrace I have a flare for cars and I do not regret it. For some people, it's cocaine, for some it's jewelries, for some, like Dieziani, it's diamonds, some collect inanimate objects, shoes. So everyone has their passion. And once your passion is not against the doctrine of God then so be it. While they are wasting their time, I am already arranging for a new one.
About Saraki's trial at the CCT
My conclusion on the CCT trial is that we are not in court. We are not in court because the rudiments, the ethics and what they call the rules of the court are not being followed.

There is something called practice direction, the practice direction is not followed. So, as far as we are concerned, the trial is not against the Senate president, it is against the Senate, and we are not in court. Instead of being prosecuted we are being persecuted.

For example, the judge said the lawyer is not supposed to speak as one of counsel but he was in court yesterday and the same judge took his name down. That yesterday again he was announced as one of the counsels and he took his name down. And for someone to talk to a senior advocate of Nigeria in that manner, someone who also have training as a lawyer; as far as I am concerned we are not in court.

But this whole prosecution or persecution as the case may be is a very long journey and will end up in the Supreme Court. So nobody should think that it is going to end up at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. No, no, no, it will end up at the Supreme Court and from the way the proof of evidence is falling like pack of cards on daily basis definitely shows that there is no case.

If I have evidence that Saraki is guilty, I would not support him. But you don't persecute a man because of his admission. It is ridiculous that you say you have evidence against a man but the evidence is burnt. It is ridiculous that you brought a man to court but you never interrogated him or took his statement. Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, is very clear. The principle of fair hearing, it is extremely clear.

A process where the prosecutor does not know the difference between a debit card and a credit card, I mean that's funny. A situation whereby a man is not earning salary but collecting pension which he had donated to a foundation for indigent people and you now charge him that he has been collecting salary after leaving office. So the case, as far as I am concerned, is persecution, it was orchestrated, absolutely orchestrated.

And there was no petition to either CCB, the foundation to any case in CCB is a petition. Which CCB will investigate, invite you on your infractions, you would respond and if they find you culpable, they will transfer you to CCT but in this case there is no petition. We want to know what CCB investigated before referring it to CCT. So for us, Saraki's four years in the Senate is not negotiable. If Saraki has one trillion supporters, I am one of them, if he has one billion supporters, I am one, if he has a hundred million supporters, I am one; if he has 10,000 supporters, I am one; if he has one supporter, I am the one.
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