The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said it would continue with the process for the recall of the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye, despite a court ruling asking it to maintain status quo. Rotimi Oyekanmi, the media aide to the Chairman of the Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this Friday, said it was yet to be served with the court papers putting the process on hold. Mr. Melaye’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, had explained that maintaining the status-quo me status quo should halt the recall process.
An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court had on Thursday ordered parties involved in the planned recall of a senator to maintain status quo.
The order was made exparte; implying the order was given without hearing the order party, in this case, INEC.
According to the timetable released by INEC, the notice of verification would be posted at the commission’s constituency office in Lokoja, the Kogi Sate capital on July 10.
The commission also said it would verify the signatures of those calling for the recall on August 19 and publish the results the same day.
Mr. Oyekanmi said the Commission was yet to be served with the court papers as of Friday afternoon and therefore it would go ahead with the process.
“I asked our Director of Legal services this afternoon, and she told me she had not received any court paper. I wouldn’t know if she eventually got the papers between then and now (7.52pm). If we are not served with the papers it means we will continue with the process,” he told PREMIUM TIMES over the telephone Friday night.
Mr. Oyekanmi however pro, however, call the director to find out if the papers were eventually served on the commission and get back to this newspaper but never did.
Efforts to reach INEC Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, for comments were unsuccessful as he did not pick calls to his mobile telephone. He did not also respond to a text message sent to him by this newspaper.
Mr. Osaze-Uzzi’s deputy, Nick Dazang, could also not be reached.
INEC had recently acknowledged receiving a petition from Mr. Melaye’s constituents asking to recall him. About 52 per cent of registered voters in the lawmaker’s constituency are believed to have signed the petition.
The commission had also written to the senator intimating him formally of its receipt of the petition and that it would kick-start the process on July 3.
Mr. Melaye has accused the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, of sponsoring the recall process. Although both men are members of Nigeria’s ruling APC, they are political enemies.