Court refuses to stop Melaye’s recall, orders INEC to start verification

 
Tue Sep 12th, 2017 - Abuja (FCT)
 

By Henry Umoru & Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA—THE Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, gave the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the nod to resume process for the recall of Senator Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West).

Sen. Dino Melaye

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba dismissed as lacking in merit, Melaye’s contention that the petition his constituents presented to INEC for his recall was illegal, unlawful, wrongful, unconstitutional, invalid, null and of no effect in law.

The court held that Melaye’s allegation that the petition was signed by fictitious, dead and non-existing persons in his senatorial district was “hasty and premature.”

Justice Dimgba stressed that the embattled lawmaker can only prove that signatures behind the petition were bogus after they must have been duly verified by INEC as part of the recall process.

He held that Melaye and his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, failed to exhaust the “domestic remedy” provided by the verification procedure, before they separately approached the court to stop the recall exercise.

The court maintained that Melaye’s constituents were not under any legal compulsion to give him reasons they wanted him recalled.

It, however, directed INEC to, in the interest of fair hearing, furnish the plaintiff with a copy of the petition against him, schedule of signatures attached to it, as well as the full list of persons in support of the recall application.

Faults INEC

Meanwhile, the court faulted INEC’s position that the 90 days period the constitution provided for the conclusion of Melaye’s recall will elapse on September 18.

INEC had, through its team of lawyers led by Mr. Usman Uztaz (SAN), argued that under Section 69(a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, it has 90 days, starting from June 21, to conduct a referendum in line with the approved time table and schedule of action on the petition seeking Melaye’s recall.

However, Justice Dimgba held that INEC’s argument was mis-concieved, saying the 90 days period was paused on July 6 when the court ordered all the parties to maintain status quo on the matter.

He also dismissed INEC’s contention that APC lacked the locus-standi to institute an action with a view to stopping Melaye’s recall.

Nevertheless, he dismissed the two consolidated suits which Melaye and APC lodged before the court.

While refusing to grant the plaintiffs’ prayers, the court directed that aside a copy of the petition, INEC should also serve Melaye with an amended timetable for the recall process, which it said resumed again with delivery of the judgment.

The court ordered that INEC commence the verification at least two weeks after it had served all the documents on Melaye to enable him prepare his defence.

Melaye reacts

However, in a quick reaction, Dino Melaye, who is chairman, Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, said he will neither sleep nor slumber over the Federal High Court’s judgment in Abuja.

Senator Melaye, who told Vanguard that he was currently in Atlanta, USA, yesterday, said lies cannot overtake or conquer truth, and asked his constituents of Kogi West not to be troubled.

 
 

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source: Vanguard