- Result of verification will be ready Sunday, says INEC
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
The ongoing recall exercise of Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West in the National Assembly, which commenced saturday, recorded a setback as many electorates failed to appear for the verification.
When THISDAY visited polling units in Lokoja, Koton-Karfi, Mopa,/Amuro, Kabba/Bunu and Yagba East local government councils after 9am yesterday morning, most polling stations recorded either few or zero turnout.
At Amorley in Lokoja, frontage, no electorate had appeared to be verified as at the time of this report. Also at St Maryâ€™s, Crowther and Nepa Frontage in Lokoja, there was reluctance to participate by the electorate.
At Paparanda Square, the unit witnessed appearance of some electorate, but unfortunately none of those who appeared had their signatures corresponding to the names on the Independent National Electoral Commission list.
In Mopa and polling units in Egbe, Yagba West, there was complete boycott as at time of report, with INEC and security officials sitting and waiting for the electorates to appear for verification.
There appeared to be a boycott by constituents of Kogi West as the recall process of Melaye got underway.
In Koto, the APC members boycotted the process, while some persons alleged to be PDP members said they didnâ€™t know how their names got in the list at first.
In Isanlu and polling units within the environs, electorates where found sitting under trees. In the outskirts of Isanlu, information available by our reporters said there was a complete boycott of the process as people sat in their houses.
Across the seven Local Government Areas that made up the district, there was apathy as electorates failed to show up.
In Lokoja, mild drama ensured at some of the polling units, with electorates surprised to see their names on the displayed list. In Lokoja club for example, Samuel Olukotun, threatened to sue those behind imputing his wifeâ€™s name Feyisayo Olukotun, on the list.
In Felele, the member representing Lokoja 2, in the state assembly, Hon. Idris Ndakwo said electorates came out but could not find their names.
The member said Felele Primary school, where the legislator spoke to the press, recorded zero turnout as at 12:00pm, and ascribed the hitch and low turnout to lack of interest for recall by the electorates.
Also, in Agbaja, protest rocked the exercise as protesters claimed they accidentally found their names with forged signatures on the list. In Ijumu the exercise had a challenge with the arrest of agents allegedly representing Dino Melaye. This however sparked off protest from all polling units.
In Kogi local government council, units within the township witnessed low turnout, but had some impressive turnout in the hinterlands, according to the local government Administrator, Mohammed Tanko.
The administrator said he was impressed with the turnout and orderly conduct of the exercise.
In Yagba East, electorates were seen clustered around polling units observing the exercise but did not present themselves for the recall exercise. Most polling units visited showed low turnout as electorates majorly stayed away.
The exercise was marred by complaints over forged signatures by electorates who claimed they never signed the recall. Similarly, names of dead electorates were observed by constituents, as the card readers also in most cases were not put to use by the INEC officials.
Security arrangement was quite impressive in the local government areas as there were no challenges recorded on the whole.
Meanwhile, a source at the INEC has denied that the commission has a prepared result to present after the exercise. The official, who craved anonymity, made the disclosure while answering questions posed by electorates who said their refusal followed what they termed as compromise by the commission.
He said no individual no matter how highly placed can compromise the process. He described the allegation as a lie to tarnish the image of the commission, which he said was bent on being unbiased in the recall process.
However, the National INEC commissioner in charge of Kogi, Nasarawa and Benue State, Mallam Mohammed Haruna while speaking with newsmen said they were more particular about due process, adding that they would roll out the result based on what was recorded on the field.
To corroborate Haruna, INEC has given assurance that barring any unforeseen developments, its verdict on the verification exercise meant to authenticate or reject the request for the recall petition against Melaye, would be ready today (Sunday).
Verification of signatures of complainants was one of the first stages in the recall process.
Some persons claiming to be electorates from Kogi West Senatorial District, had on June 21 last year submitted a petition seeking to recall their Senator, Dino Melaye.
The process was halted when a High Court in Abuja gave ruling to that effect but had to be restarted following subsequent order by a judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division which removed all legal hitches to the carrying out of the exercise.
Speaking on telephone yesterday with THISDAY, the Director in INECâ€™s Publicity and Voter Education Department, Mr. Osaze Uzzi, said the commission would within 24 hours of the receipt of the report on the verification exercise issue a verdict.
In response to THISDAYâ€™s enquiry, Uzzi said: â€œThere were reports that there was low turnout of the electorates for the verification exercise but at the end of the day the commission will decide on the outcome.â€
He said the commission had not received any report of untoward incident during the verification.
According to the official, the one-day exercise was intended to verify signatures of the Senatorâ€™s constituents who signed the recall documents earlier submitted to the INEC.
Meanwhile, the Kogi State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party has described the boycott and low turnout experienced in yesterdayâ€™s recall process of Melaye as a reflection that the APC-led administration of Gov. Yahaya Bello has lost value.
In a statement signed by the Director Research and Documentation of the party, Achadu Dickson, a copy of which was made available to THISDAY, he thanked the people of West Senatorial District for heeding to vote against the recall.
He described the failure of the recall exercise as an indication that the present administration was not popular, having inflicted poverty, hardship and suffering on the people.
The PDP said the administration has not been sensitive to the plight of the people, who as civil servants are owed outstanding salaries of close to twenty months.
In spite of the resources that accrued to the present administration, the PDP lamented that no visible infrastructure development can be witnessed under the Bello administration, and added that the failure of the recall was a signal that the people have bid the administration goodbye.
The PDP called on the APC-led administration to start packing their load, pointing out that the red card signalled that the recall failure has presented; an indication that Gov. Bello and APC time in the state was up.