SAN FRANCISCO, June 24, (THEWILL) – Embattled lawmaker representing Kogi West, Senator Dino Melaye on Friday dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, before an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, seeking an order stopping the ongoing process by members of his constituency to Recall him.
THEWILL recalls that INEC had in a statement issued on Thursday confirmed that it had formally informed Melaye of petitions filed by its constituents to recall him and fixed July 3 to begin the recall process.
But in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/587/2017 filed before the court, Melaye described the recall petitions as fictitious, and sought an order restraining the electoral body from commencing, continuing or completing the process of his recall.
In Originating Summons brought by his lead counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, the senator urged the court to declare the petitions submitted to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, as “illegal, unlawful, wrongful, unconstitutional, invalid, null, void and of no effect whatsoever”.
Urging the court to void the recall process on the grounds that it was commenced in breach of his fundamental right to fair hearing, he sought determination of whether by the provisions of Sections 68 and 69 of the Constitution, he is entitled to a fair hearing before the process of his recall as envisaged by the provisions of Section 69 of the Constitution can be triggered.
He also prayed the court for a declaration that the petition purportedly forwarded to the INEC was signed by fictitious, dead and none existing persons in his senatorial district.
The suit was filed along with an affidavit of urgency, urging the court to assign the case to a judge and be granted an accelerated hearing.
The affidavit of urgency deposed to by a litigation secretary in the law firm of Ozekhome, Mr. Usman Salihu, states, “That he has also asked for injunctive relieves restraining the defendant from acting on the said petition.
“That except this matter is assigned and granted accelerated hearing, the res in issue in this matter might be destroyed.
“That this court is urged most humbly to assign this suit as a matter of grave urgency and grant accelerated hearing therein.”
In the affidavit filed in support of the originating summons, Salihu, who deposed to the affidavit, raised doubt about the entire recall process, describing it as sponsored.
The affidavit stated in part, “That in the last National Assembly election conducted in March 2015, the total number of votes cast in both valid and invalid votes was about 115,000 out of the total registered voters.
“That the numbers of signatories on the petition purportedly submitted to INEC far exceed the total number of both valid and invalid votes cast at the last general election.
“That he knows as a matter of fact that this raises serious doubt as to the authenticity of the entire process and the alleged petition itself.
“That except by physical verification of all the signatures, the defendant cannot determine the authenticity of the alleged signatures in the purported petition. “That he knows as a matter of fact that the purported petition asking for his recall was politically sponsored and without any basis whatsoever.
“That he was reliably informed by one T. Ayeni, that the recall form with a copy of INEC Register was given to him to transfer some of the names in the INEC register to the recall sheet and forge the signatures therein.
“That they also gave him some money, and that the form and money were given to him by the ward Chairman, Ayiyetoro Gbede Ward in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State.”
His prayers read, “A declaration that the petition presented to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission for the recall of the plaintiff, is illegal, unlawful, wrongful, unconstitutional, invalid, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
“A declaration that the recall process purportedly initiated against the plaintiff by his constituents under Section 69 of the Constitution as altered, is illegal, unlawful, wrongful unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatsoever same having been commenced and conducted in utter disregard to the hallowed principles of natural justice and in volcanic violation of the plaintiff’s right to fair hearing, as provided for in section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as altered.
“An order of injunction restraining the defendant whether by itself, staff, employees, agents, servants and or privies howsoever called, from commencing or further continuing with the process of acting on the purported petition presented to it by the constituents against the plaintiff.
“An order of injunction restraining the defendant from conducting any referendum predicated on the fictitious petition allegedly submitted to it by the purported constituents of the plaintiff, on the basis of the fundamentally and legally-flawed petition.”