By Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday fixed September 11, for judgement in an interlocutory application by Senator Dino Melaye, seeking an order of court to stop his recall from the senate.
Also fixed for judgement that same day is a sister suit filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and 12 others, who are members of the Kogi State chapter of the party against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), challenging the planned recall of Senator Melaye.
In the substantive suit, Melaye’s counsel, Nkem Okoro had urged the court to grant the plaintiff’s reliefs seeking to stop the recall process.
Melaye, in an amended originating summon dated August 7 and filed same day, brought pursuant to Sections 1(1)(3), 36, 68 and 69 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended as well as Order 3 Rule 6 of the Federal High Court Rules is seeking for stopping the process.
Melaye, in the suit is challenging the purported petition for his recall on five grounds.
In one of the grounds, Melaye submitted that the petitioners ought to have availed him with facts and circumstances upon which the alleged loss of confidence was based on prior to submission of the petition to INEC.
He argued that by not giving him copies of the petitions, “INEC has violated the rule of natural justice and fair hearing”.
Secondly, Melaye posited that even when the petition was submitted, the electoral body failed to given him a copy.
Thirdly, the 1st plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of required numbers of signatories to the petition in line with Section 69 of the Constitution, which requires more than half of registered voters in the constituency.
In urging the court to uphold the prayers of his counsel, Okoro submitted that “majority of the signatures/signatories to the petition are non-existent, dead and forged.”
In addition, Melaye’s lawyer insisted that the petition was “initiated as a result of political malice, bad fate and animosity”.
Counsel to the 2nd to 5th plaintiffs, Ponsak Bigun aligned himself with submission of Okoro, and urged court to grant Melaye’s prayers.
However, counsel to INEC, Sulayiman Ibrahim in a counter affidavit he filed on July 14, 2017, urged the court to dismiss Melaye’s application as the suit lacked merit.
Similarly, the 2nd to 4th defendants represented by Anthony Adeniyi, prayed the court to discountenance the submissions of Melaye’s lawyer.
Earlier, Ibrahim had argued INEC’s preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear Melaye’s suit as presently constituted.
INEC claimed that the amended originating summon dated 7th August, but filed on the 8th, “is incongruous and grossly incompetent having been filed contrary to Order 3 Rule 9 and Order 17 Rules 4, 5 of the Federal High Court Procedure Rules.”
Counsel to INEC told Justice Dimgba that “My Lord, after leave was granted for amendment of the originating summon, the 1st plaintiff (Melaye) filed an affidavit that was completely at variance with order of court without obtaining leave”.
Meanwhile, in the suit filed by APC against INEC, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/601/2017, the court took arguments from the plaintiff and defence counsel, and fixed September 11, for judgement.