Senate backs Melaye, dares INEC over recall process …only court can stop recall bid, says electoral body

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has said that the ongoing move to recall Senator Dino Melaye would be an exercise in futility if those orchestrating his recall fail to convince lawmakers why the senator should be recalled.
Making his contribution on a point of order raised by Senator Melaye to notify the Senate of the recall moves, Ekweremadu urged the  Senate not to dissipate  effort on a process that is tantamount to a waste of time.
While listing the procedure involved in recalling a senator, the Deputy President of the Senate said that section 69 of the 1999 Constitution as amended says  those who signed the recall register would have to come out and line up to verify their signatures.
He said that an amendment  to the process of recall was effected in 2010 adding that those behind the purported recall of Senator Melaye were only relying on the section of the constitution without taking into reckoning the amendment.
He went on to stress that the reason for the amendment was to ensure that state governors do not become so powerful such that they could not be criticised by their representatives in the National Assembly.
He added that after the verification and other relevant processes, they would still have to convince the lawmakers on why the Senator needed to be recalled.
Earlier while raising the point of order, Melaye said that the recall register was signed by persons who have already been declared dead adding that some people have even come out to deny their signatures.
He claimed  that some of those who purportedly signed the register were deceived into signing by the State governor who is the mastermind of the recall.
“The names and signatures on the recall register was forged by Kogi state officials and Governor Yahaya Bello is the one sponsoring the recall for malicious purposes.
“The total score of both valid and invalid vote of nine candidates is 118,000 but my governor and his appointees in four days claimed that they got over 188,000 signatures.
“No where in my constituency did they sit to receive people’s signatures, they got INEC database for registered voters and copied in one hand writing and forged all the signatures.
“As I speak to you, I have over 120 death certificates issued by the National Population Commission, and these peoples relatives and families have sworn to affidavits but the names of all these dead people appeared on the recall register submitted to INEC.
Mr President, 116 of my constituents have also sworn to affidavits that their names and signatures which appeared on the recall register were forged .
“Over 86 of my constituents have stated that they were approached that the government wanted to carry out a fertiliser empowerment programme and requested for their PVCs and were thereby deceived into putting their names on the register.
“All these affidavits have been submitted to INEC and the court,” he said.
He said that his only sin was that he asked the governor to pay 17 months salary and pension to workers who deserve their wages.
He stressed that it was wrong for the state to be spending so much money on the recall process when such money can pay salaries and allowances.
The senator therefore called on his colleagues to ensure that they do not allow a wrong precedence to be set in a democratic setting like Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday said only a legitimate court order could stop process for the recall of Sen. Dino Melaye as demanded by his Kogi West constituents.
Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of the commission, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that filing a lawsuit was not enough to stop the recall process.
INEC had on Monday released the schedule of activities for the recall of Melaye, the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District in the Senate, with Aug. 19 fixed for verification of signatures of petitioners demanding his recall.
But, various suits have been instituted in courts to stop to stop the process.
The cases include those by Melaye and Concerned Kogi Registered Voters, filed separately at a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking an order to halt INEC from conducting the verification of signatures and the recall.
Oyekanmi said that the actions of the commission were being guided by the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
“The constituents came with sacks of documents which they said were `the signatures’ of more than half of the voting population of Kogi West Senatorial District, which Melaye represents.
“They also presented a register of the said signatories and a letter, asking INEC to begin the process of recalling the senator representing that particular district.
“Subsequently, the commission, in exercise of the powers conferred on it by Sections 116 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), on Monday issued a timetable and schedule of activities for the recall of the senator.
“The first stage is a verification exercise slated for July 10, 2017.
“To that extent, filing a lawsuit is not enough to stop INEC from carrying out its legitimate duty.
“Only a legitimate court order or an injunction can be considered by the commission,’’ he said.
On claims by Melaye that some of the signatures submitted to INEC were forged and that names of dead registered voters were also included, Oyekanmi said that the process of verification would clear all that.
On method INEC would adopt in verifying thumbprints of registered illiterate voters who are part of the signatories for the recall, he said that it would be handled.
“The commission will adopt its normal way of conducting the verification exercise, which will be applicable to both the literate and not-so-literate.’’
He said that the commission would apply its standards in a situation where people believed to have signed the recall letter, failed to show up for signature verification.
“If the verification fails to meet the established standards, the commission will not proceed to the next stage. The recall process automatically terminates there,’’ he stated. (NAN)

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