Alex Enumah in Abuja
Senator Dino Melaye has asked the Court of Appeal in Abuja to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from going further with the process of his recall from the National Assembly.
The Federal High Court in Abuja had on September 11, 2017, in a judgment delivered by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, given INEC the permission to go ahead with its planned recall of Melaye.
Justice Dimgba gave the go-ahead after dismissing Melaye’s suit that sought to stop his recall by INEC following a petition it said it received from the people of Kogi West senatorial district, whom Melaye represents at the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
However, in a notice of appeal dated September 13, 2017 and filed same day by his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), the appellant is asking the appellate court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the first defendant/respondent or any of its agents from commencing or further continuing with the process or acting on the purported petition presented to it by the purported constituents of the plaintiff.
Melaye, who has expressed dissatisfaction with the judgment of Justice Dimgba, is asking the Court of Appeal to set aside the decision of the lower court on grounds that it erred in law in taking the decision to allow INEC to proceed with the recall process.
Among the eight grounds listed by the appellant are: That the lower court erred in law when it held that the petition presented to INEC before the court for the recall of the plaintiff was validly, even when the petition exhibited by INEC was not signed by more than half of the registered voters in the plaintiff’s constituency as is required by section 69 of the 1999 Constitution.
That the judge also erred in law when he held that the 90 days provided for by section 69 of the 1999 Constitution was paused since June 23, 2017 when the plaintiff commenced this action and subsequently ordered that the period would continue to run from September 11, 2017, the date of judgment of the lower court, subject to the final determination of the suit, even when no such relief was sought by any of the parties in the suit.
Another grounds on which the appeal was premised is that the judge erred in law when he failed to consider the notice to INEC to produce the petition for the recall of the appellant and not invoking the provisions of section 167 (d) of the Evidence Act, in the face of failure of INEC to produce the purported petition allegedly signed by the plaintiff’s constituents despite service of a notice to produce it, and relying on mere statistical analysis prepared by INEC itself to validate a petition which was invalid on its face.
Melaye in the appeal is therefore asking the court to allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the lower court and in its place declare that the petition purportedly presented to INEC for his recall was illegal, unlawful, wrongful, unconstitutional, null, void, and of no effect whatsoever.
He is also asking the court to declare the recall process purportedly initiated against him on the basis of the petition as illegal, having been commenced and conducted on the basis of an invalid petition.