The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday pasted the notice of verification to begin the recall process of the lawmaker representing Kogi West in the National Assembly, Senator Dino Melaye.
The notice of verification was posted on the walls of the local government area office of INEC in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, for the electorate to see the progress of the recall initiated by Melaye’s constituents.
In the notice, dated July 10, 2017, and signed by INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the commission fixed August 19 for the verification.
“In accordance with Section 69 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), notice is hereby given that the verification for the recall of the member representing Kogi West Senatorial District shall hold on August 19, 2017,” the notice read.
It specified that the verification to recall the senator would hold between 8 am and 2 pm on the said date in the senatorial district.
The commission decided to go ahead with the process based on precedents and judicial pronouncements.
The National Commissioner of INEC in charge of North-Central, Mallam Mohammed Haruna, said the Court of Appeal had since 2001 decided that a court cannot stop the recall of a lawmaker.
Haruna said: “We have a Court of Appeal judgement on why court cannot stop the process. This judgment is dated back to 2001.
“Since there is a subsisting Court of Appeal judgment, we will abide by it.”
Meanwhile, a top source in INEC said:
“We have commenced the recall process of Sen. Dino Melaye because the matter is quite clear. Somebody brought a petition, which we served on Melaye and thereafter signatures were collected.
“The procedure is quite clear and we are just following it. By the time the date comes for verification, we will go there. If the number of voters seeking Melaye’s recall is less than the statutory requirement, the matter ends there.
“But if the number is in line with the requirement, there will be a referendum.”
In his respond to a question, the source added:
“There is no any order of a court restraining INEC from going ahead with the recall. And since we do not have legal inhibitions preventing us from treating the petition against the senator, we owe it a duty to proceed with the recall.
“If you look at the provision of Section 87(10) of the Electoral Act, 2010(As amended), which is applicable in this instance, INEC cannot be stopped from doing its work of conducting election in any manner whatsoever.
“The provision of Section 110 of the 1999 Constitution is actually explicit on the recall. As an institution, INEC has nothing against Melaye or any lawmaker. We are expected to follow the constitution and the Electoral Act. Implementing a recall process is not a suicide mission for any lawmaker. If a lawmaker has the backing of his or her constituents, the recall process will be dead on arrival.”
Melaye’s recall will run from July 10 to August 19.
The notice, dated July 3rd, 2017, reads in part: “In exercise of the powers conferred on the Independent National Electoral Commission(“the Commission”) by Sections 69 and 110 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended); Section 116 of the Electoral Act 2010(as amended) and of all the powers enabling it in that behalf, the Commission hereby issues this timetable schedule of activities for the recall of the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Kogi State.”
The details of the timetable are as follows:
Notice of Verification (10th July, 2017). To be posted at the constituency (INEC LGA office, Lokoja).
Last day for submission of application by interested observers (31st July 2017). INEC headquarters.
Last day for submission of names of verification agents for the member sought to be recalled and the petitioners (10th August 2017). By a letter addressed and submitted to the Resident Electoral Commission (REC) indicating the Polling Unit verification agents arranged by LGAs as well as collation agents and where they will serve.
Stakeholders meeting (15th August, 2017). INEC State Office.
Conduct of Verification (19th August, 2017). To be held in the Polling Units in the constituency.
“The commission shall issue the timetable and schedule of activities for the conduct of referendum subject to the outcome of the verification exercise.”
Meanwhile, Melaye’s counsel on Monday said they had served INEC with an order restraining it from continuing with his recall process.
His lead counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said that INEC was served with the order yesterday morning.
“The clear order was duly served on INEC this morning (yesterday).
“INEC has, therefore, been restrained by Justice John Tsoho from taking any steps on the matter of Senator Melaye’s recall till the hearing and determination of his motion on notice for interlocutory injunction against INEC.
“The application, along with another for joinder by some persons, was fixed for September 29, 2017,” he said.