By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.
The Kogi State chapert of the All Progressive Congress APC and 12 others have approached a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC from commencing the recall process of Senator Dino Melaye.
This is coming as the Senate on Tuesday described the ongoing exercise by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to consummate the recall move made against Senator Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West) by his constituents as futile.
The various stages passed so far in the move as facilitated by INEC according to the lawmakers were not in line with laid down constitutional procedure and guidelines.
The electoral body following collation of signatures had said that it will start the recall process on July 10.
In the Originating Summons filed at the registry of the high court Tuesday, other plaintiffs listed alongside APC are Alhaji Haddy Ametuo, Hon. Shaibu Osune, S.T Adejo, Comrade Yahaya Ade Ismail, Chief Gbenga Ashagun, Ahovi S. Ibrahim, Ghali ND Usman, Isa Abubakar, I. Molemodile, Abubakr M. Adamu and Daniel Sekpe.
In the application, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/601/2017, the plaintiffs through their counsel, Solomon T. Ologunorisa SAN want the court to declare that the petition presented to the INEC Chairman for the recall of Melaye is illegal, unlawful, wrongful and of no effect whatsoever.
They also want the court to declare that the recall process initiated vide a purported petition against the their sponsored member of the Senate by some of his constituents pursuant to Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution is illegal, unlawful and of no effect whatsoever for being contrary and in contravention to the rules of natural justice and constitutionally guaranteed right to fair hearing under section 36 of the 1999 constitution.
They are therefore seeking for an order of court injunction restraining the INEC from commencing the process of recall of Melaye who is sponsored by the plaintiffs as member of the Senate.
In addition, the plaintiffs wants the court to make an order of injunction restraining the INEC from acting on the purported petition presented to it by some constituents of the plaintiffs sponsored member representing Kogi West Senatorial District.
They are also praying for an order stopping INEC from conducting any referendum based on the purported petition allegedly presented and signed by dead, fictitious and purported constituents of the plaintiffs sponsored member of the Senate for an incompetent and fundamentally defective petition.
Earlier, the plaintiffs have asked the court to determine whether upon a proper interpretation of the provisions of Section 65(2) (b), 68(1) (g) and 69 of the 1999 Constitution, the 1st plaintiff’s sponsored member Senator Dino Melaye to the Senate is not entitled to a fair hearing before the process of his recall as contemplated by the provisions of the aforesaid section 69 of the 1999 constitution.
They also asked the court to determine whether by the provisions of Sections 68 and 69 of the 1999 constitution, Melaye , the plaintiff’s party’s sponsored member to the Senate can be validly recalled from the Senate upon an invalid petition presented to the chairman of INEC.
They further want the court to determine whether having regard to the provisions of section 69 of the 1999 constitution, INEC can commence validly the process of conducting referendum for the recall of the plaintiff’s member from the Senate in the absence of a valid and competent petition on the ground that the purported signatories to the alleged petition are either dead, fictitious, nonexistent persons from outside the Kogi West senatorial constituency.
No date has been fixed for hearing.
Senate’s resolution Tuesday followed a point of order raised against the move by Senator Dino Melaye himself.
Melaye who on the strength of his point of order drew the attention of the Senate to alleged supersonic move of INEC to conclude work on recall petitions written against him by some of constituents sponsored by the State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
He said:”The score of both valid and invalid votes in the election that brought him into the Senate in 2015 was 118,000 but my governors and his appointees in four days claim they got a signature of over 188,000.
“They got INEC data base of registered voters and copied in one writing into a recall register and forged all the signatures. As I speak to you over 120 dead certificates issued by the national population commission and these people relations and families have sworn to affidavit and these certificates have been deposited.
“The names of all these dead people appeared on the recall registered submitted to INEC.116 of my constituency have sworn to affidavit that their names and signatures appeared in the recall registers and they are not the ones that signed it.
“86 of my constituents have sworn to an affidavit that they were approached that the government wants to carry out a fertilizer empowerment programme and requested for their PVCs and thereby deceived into putting their names in the recall register”.
Consequently the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who cited sections 68, 69 and other relevant provisions of the 1999 constitution (as amended), to make his contribution wondered why INEC is not following the laid down procedure of carrying out such exercise.
“I am wondering why we are dissipating energy on this matter and wasting precious legislative time on a matter we should not.
“What is happening in Kogi, in respect of Senator Dino Melaye, as far as this constitution is concerned, is an exercise in futility. They are just wasting precious time because the constitution is clear on what should happen.
“It is possible that the Attorney- General of Kogi state have not advised them properly, if he has done that, I am sure they would have applied their time to more meaningful ventures in Kogi state”, he said.
He specifically declared that in 2010, the National Assembly amended the constitution regarding section 69 which deals with recall process of a federal lawmaker.
According to him, as clearly stated by the section, “The number of those who are seeking for recall of Senator Melaye from the Senate are supposed to line up somewhere in Kogi State with him and his lawyers and each person would verify their signature. When they are done with that they go back to section 68 which states that the president of the senate receives from the chairman of INEC the recall of the member.
They would also present evidence satisfactory to the House or the Senate.
“So they need to come back here and convince each and every one of us that they have done the correct thing. Unless they do that they cannot even give effect to it. So why are we wasting our time. Let us move on and allow them to waste their time”.
Ratifying Ekweremadu’s submission the Senate President, Bukola Saraki in his remarks said “as they say 10 years is no joke in leadership, the deputy president of the senate has explained the processes. Let the process peak for itself.
“I rarely don’t know why a lot of efforts are being wasted that should have gone on more important things. Eventually it must come back here for us to decide whether it is satisfactory or not”.