INEC Asks Court to Vacate Order Halting Melaye’s Recall Process


Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to set aside an earlier order of the court suspending the process of recall of Senator Dino Melaye.

The electoral body is also seeking an order of court for the matter to be given accelerated hearing and that the matter be heard during the court’s vacation period in the interest of justice.

Justice John Tsoho had in a ruling on an ex parte motion brought by Melaye seeking to stop his recall ordered parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of the matter.
He then adjourned further hearing to September 29.

However, INEC in a motion on notice brought before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, prayed the court to set aside the order.
In the motion marked suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/567/2017 and filed on July 14, 2017, the defendant claimed that the order for the status quo has hindered it from proceeding with the recall process of the senator representing Kogi West senatorial district in the Senate.

The motion which was supported by a 16-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Place Demenongo, claimed that the order made by Justice Tsoho was against the time bound and constitutional duty of INEC as enshrined in Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution.

In the motion, the electoral body argued that the ex parte interim order of injunction violated their right to fair hearing as enshrined in Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution as it was not heard before it was made.

In the affidavit, the deponent claimed that Melaye misrepresented and suppressed material facts in misleading the court to grant the order of interim injunction.

He averred that the defendant received a petition dated June 19 in June 21 seeking the recall of Melaye and that consequent upon the receipt of the petition it has published time table and schedule of activities for the recall process.

He further averred that since the defendant/applicant received the restraining order on July 10, it had been unable to take further action on the recall process notwithstanding the fact that time was of essence in carrying out its duties.

“The defendant/applicant has 90 days from June 21 to conduct a referendum in line with the approved time table and schedule of activities for the recall of the senator representing Kogi West senatorial district of Kogi.
“The period of 90 days will elapse on September 18,” he stressed.

The affidavit further stated that Melaye would not be prejudiced if the application to vacate the ex parte order was granted as it was in the interest of justice to grant it.

In the second application, marked suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/567/2017, INEC is asking the court for an order of accelerated hearing of the substantive suit and all other filed processes incidental thereto during the court’s vacation.
It predicated its application on the grounds that it was its constitutional duty as provided by Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution.

INEC in the motion claimed that time was of the essence in the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
When the matter came up for hearing yesterday, counsel to INEC, Sulayman Ibrahim, informed the court of an application filed seeking accelerated hearing of the matter during vacation.

He also informed the court of another application seeking to set aside the ex parte motion made by the court on July 6, 2017.
However, Nkem Okoro counsel to Melaye rose in opposition of the applications stating that they were only served on July 18, less than two days before hearing.

He argued that by the provisions of the rules of the court, he needed seven days within which to respond to the motions.

He, therefore asked the court for an adjournment to enable him prepare his reply.
Trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba consequently adjourned hearing to July 27.
INEC following receipt of a petition from members of Melaye’s constituency demanding for his recall, swung into action to commence the recall process of the senator.

The body had fixed July 10,2017, for the commencement of the recall of Melaye.
But in a swift reaction, Melaye had approached the court for an order of court stopping INEC from proceeding with the recall process pending the determination of a suit he filed challenging his recall.
Melaye had in the suit alleged irregularities and fraud.

In the application which was argued by his lawyer Mr. Mike Ozekhome (SAN), he claimed that the signatories to the petition were fake, fictitious and concocted adding that some of the signatures were of dead members of his constituency.

Members of Melaye’s senatorial district had commenced his recall some weeks ago after they gathered the signature of over 188,000 registered voters which they then submitted to INEC.