By Davidson Iriekpen
The embattled senator representing Kogi West senatorial district, Dino Melaye, has dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before a Federal High Court in Abuja to stop his recall which the electoral umpire has fixed July 3 for its commencement.
In the suit filed on his behalf by Chief Michael Ozekhome (SAN), Melaye said the process for his recall was illegal and as such, wants the court to declare it as totally unlawful and unconstitutional.
The embattled senator is among other reasons, asking the court to determine whether by the provisions of sections 68 and 69 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), if he was not entitled to right of fair hearing before the process for his recall could be triggered.
In the suit which was accompanied by an affidavit of urgency, Melaye stated that because the process for his recall was initiated byÂ top politicians in Kogi State who wield enormous powers over his senatorial constituents, whether the petition presented to INEC was in compliance with the constitution since it was tainted with political malice, bad motive, personal vendetta and bad faith.
He is equally asking the court to determine whether by the provisions of sections 68 and 69 of the Constitution, he could be validly recalled when the petition presented to electoral umpire was signed by fictitious and non-existing persons and persons who did not belong to his senatorial constituency in accordance with the constitution.
The senator further asked the court to determine whetherÂ the process of recall as provided for in section 69 of the constitution could be initiated against him when the number of registered and qualified voters in his constituency who signed the petition was grossly less than the number required by the section.
INEC had on Thursday written to Melaye saying it had formally acknowledged the receipt of the petition from the people of Kogi West senatorial district for his recall.
In a statement signed by the National Commissioner and member, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mallam Mohammed Haruna, the commission said having received the petition and the signatures of the electorate, the next step was to verify that the petitioners were registered voters in the senatorial district.
The statement read: “INEC held its regular weekly meeting today and considered the petition submitted by some registered voters from Kogi West senatorial district to kickstart the process of recalling Melaye.
Â “In accordance with the INEC guidelines for the recall of members of the National Assembly, the commission has formally acknowledged the receipt of the petition to the petitionersâ€™ representatives and has conveyed a letter notifying Melaye of our receipt of the petition. Â
Â “The next step is to verify that the petitioners are registered voters in the Kogi West senatorial district.
Â “INEC will, onÂ July 3, 2017 issue a public notice stating the day(s), time, location and other details for the verification exercise”.
Â Before the commission received the petition, on Wednesday, the people from the Kogi West senatorial district had stormed the INEC headquarters to submit their petition against Melaye.
Â Addressing journalists after their meeting with INEC chairman, Olowo Cornelius told journalists that they were able gather 52.3 per cent more than the constitutionally required 50.1 per cent signatories.
Explaining the procedure taken to arrive at the signatories, Cornelius said polling centres were setup where electorates came with voters cards to indicate their interest.
According to him, it took one week for them to collate the results from the polls.