In line with the judgement of the Court of Appeal, recall process embarked upon by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would begin on March 27. According to the schedule released by INEC, the notice of verification would be displayed in the constituency in Kogi state.
INEC said that April 4th will be the last day for the submission of application by interested observers. It listed April 20 as the last day for submission of names of verification agents for the INEC’s Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, had earlier said: “For now, all legal hurdles as far as we are aware have been removed so the commission should proceed as if the case did not occur.” The recall process was commenced by INEC, but Melaye headed for the court to halt it, but he lost at the High Court and thereafter appealed. At the appeal court last Friday in Abuja, the three judges, led by Justice Tunde Awotoye, dismissed the appeal filed by Melaye against the judgment delivered by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba at the Federal High Court in 2017, on grounds that there was no cause of action. Justice Dimgba had on September 11, 2017, dismissed the suit filed by Senator Melaye, seeking to stop INEC from initiating his recall from the National Assembly. He held that senator Melaye’s complaints were ‘hasty, premature and presumptuous” and therefore ordered INEC to go ahead with its planned verification exercise of the 188,588 registered voters who were said to have signed a petition in support of the recall process. Unsatisfied with Justice Dimgba’s judgement, Malaye proceeded to the Appeal Court two days later, arguing that the Federal High Court judge “erred in law” when he validated the petition presented to INEC for his recall. But the Appeal Court in dismissing the suit held that the Federal High Court ought not to have entertained Melaye’s suit ab initio. The court held that the 90 days stipulated by the Constitution within which a recall process could take place “has no time limitation”, stating that the lower court ought not to have entertained Melaye’s suit ab initio. Asked about the specific steps INEC would take in continuing the process based on the judgement, Mr Osaze-Uzzi said the commission would get in touch with Melaye and ask him to give it an agent after which it would conduct a verification exercise for the signatories to the recall petition. The electoral body will also release a timetable informing Nigerians of every step in the process and the date for each member sought to be recalled and the petitioners. The electoral umpire is also invoking sections 69 and 110 of the 1999 constitution as amended and section 116 of the electoral act as amended. Voters in Kogi West senatorial district of the embattled senators appended signatures for the recall of the senator.