The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) today released an amended timetable and schedule of activities for the recall of Senator Dino Melaye, who represents the Kogi West Senatorial District.
According a statement signed by the Commission’s Secretary, Mrs. Augusta Ogakwu, the verification notice to kickstart the exercise will be issued on 3rd October. The last day for observers to submit their applications is 5th October, while the published list of accredited observes will be released on 9th October.
A stakeholder’s meeting at both the senatorial and local government headquarters will hold on 10th October, while 12th October is the last day for the submission of names of polling agents by the member sought to be recalled and the representatives of the petitioners. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the actual verification will be conducted on 14th October.
Mrs. Ogakwu noted that in fixing the timeline for the verification, sufficient time has been provided for the Senator to study the petition and accompanying materials, in order to effectively prepare for the verification exercise, in accordance with the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
It will be recalled that some registered voters from the Kogi West Senatorial District had approached the Commission on 21st June, 2017 and submitted a petition to initiate the process of recalling the Senator representing their district. After formally acknowledging receipt of the petition, and relying on Sections 69 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Section 116 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the Commission announced the timetable and schedule of activities for the recall of the Senator on 3rd July. The first activity in the schedule, slated for 10th July, was the release of detailed guidelines for the recall, starting with the pasting of the Notice of Verification at the Kogi West Constituency (INEC Office in Lokoja).
But on the same 10th July, the Commission received an order given by the Federal High Court, Abuja and dated 6th July, 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 the concerned senator, seeking orders of injunction against the Commission to stop it from acting on the petition by the registered voters of Kogi West Senatorial District.
The Judge, in granting the relief sought by the Senator, also fixed 29th September 2017 as the date to hear the motion on notice. However, the 90-day framework established by the Constitution for the entire process to be completed would have elapsed.
Having realised that the court order and its implications would negatively affect its ability to carry out its constitutional mandate, the Commission took immediate steps to vacate the court order and for the matter to be heard and determined expeditiously, while staying action on the process in compliance with the court order. Judgment in the suit was delivered on 11th September 2017, clearing all legal hurdles.