The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended its verification process in the recall petition involving Kogi state lawmaker, Dino Melaye.
The disclosure was made in a statement issued by Prince Solomon Soyebi, INEC’s National Commissioner on Voter Education and Publicity, today, July 13, 2017.
The statement read, “INEC held its regular weekly meeting today and considered the order given by the Federal High Court, Abuja dated 6th July 2017 directing the parties to maintain the status quo till the determination of the plaintiff’s motion on notice, in respect of the suit filed by Senator Dino Melaye, seeking orders of injunction against the Commission to stop it from acting on the petition by the registered voters of Kogi West Senatorial district.
“As a responsible, law-abiding institution, INEC will comply with the order.”
On Monday, July 10, INEC posted the notice of verification for the recall of the lawmaker in Lokoja, despite the court order by Justice John Tsoho for status quo to be maintained pending the hearing of a motion filed by the senator to seek an interlocutory injunction.
According to Melaye’s counsel, Mike Ozekhome, this was an order to stop the process entirely until his case is heard in court on September 29.
INEC promised to vacate the court order and ask for a more expeditious date that’ll fit into its 90-day timetable for the recall process.
The statement read, “However, INEC has also decided to take immediate steps to vacate the court order and for the matter to be heard & determined expeditiously.
“Whereas, the court adjourned hearing of the Motion on Notice to 29th September 2017, it should be noted that Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) sets a limit of 90 days from the date of the presentation of the petition (21st June, 2017) for the exercise to be completed.
“The Commission further decided to draw the attention of the Chief Justice of Nigeria to the order in view of its effect on the performance of the Commission’s constitutional duty to conduct the referendum for the recall in Kogi West Senatorial district.”
On June 21, INEC took delivery of signatures from electorates from Kogi West senatorial district petitioning for Melaye’s recall from the National Assembly.
The recall register had been signed in Kogi’s seven western senatorial districts of Yagba, Mopa Muro, Kabba Bunu, Yagba East, Koton Karfe, Lokoja and Ijumu.
Melaye has stuck to his public claims that the recall campaign is a ploy by Kogi governor, Yahaya Bello to punish him for speaking against his administration.