The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared that it has suspended action on the verification exercise for the recall of Dino Melaye, the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial, due to a court order which asked it to maintain status quo.
The commission, while noting that it will appeal the order, also said it will draw the attention of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen to the effect of the court order on the performance of the commission’s constitutional duty with regards to the recall exercise.
The Commission lamented that the adjourned hearing of the Motion on Notice to September 29 2017, affects the constitutionally required 90 days time limit for the exercise to be completed, following the presentation of the petition.
INEC disclosed this in a statement signed by a National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Adedeji Soyebi
after its weekly meeting on Thursday.
Recall that INEC was on Monday served an order from a Federal High Court in Abuja, instituted by the embattled lawmaker.
Recall that the Commission had recently released schedule for the verification exercise for the recall of Melaye.
According to the timetable, the result of the verification exercise will be declared on August 19 2017, after its conduct same day.
In a statement signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Augusta Ogakwu, the Commission said the process would have started on July 10 with the Notice of Commencement of verification exercise to be posted at the Constituency (INEC LGA Office Lokoja) and end with the declaration of the outcome of the verification on August 19.
But according to the statement signed by Soyebi on Thursday, the Commission said in its regular weekly meeting it “considered the order given by the Federal High Court, Abuja dated 6th July 2017 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 Senator Dino Melaye, seeking orders of injunction against the Commission, to stop it from acting on the petition by the registered voters of Kogi West Senatorial district.
“As a responsible, law-abiding institution, INEC will comply with the order. However, the Commission has also decided to take immediate steps to vacate the court order and for the matter to be heard and determined expeditiously.
“Whereas, the court adjourned hearing of the Motion on Notice to 29th September 2017, it should be noted that Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) sets a limit of 90 days from the date of the presentation of the petition (21st June, 2017) for the exercise to be completed.
“The Commission further decided to draw the attention of the Chief Justice of Nigeria to the order in view of its effect on the performance of the Commission’s constitutional duty to conduct the referendum for the recall in Kogi West Senatorial district.”
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja