â€¢5% turnout against 50 plus one per cent shows popular rejection of recall
By Yekini JimohÂ in Lokoja
The process to recall the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye, suffered a setback at the weekend as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) only recorded a 5.34 per cent turnout for the verification exercise.Â
Declaring the result of the exercise yesterday, the Verification Collation Officer, Prof. Okente Morthy said the petition failed to meet the requirements for the referendum, which would have been the next stage in the recall process.Â
He noted that the exercise only recorded a 5.34 per cent turnout as against 50 plus one per cent turnout as required by law to qualify for the next stage of the recall process.Â
Giving details of the exercise, Morthy said there are a total of 351,146 registered voters in the seven local government areas in the senatorial district.Â
The local government areas are: Kabba Bunu, Lokoja, Kogi /Kotonkarfi, Mopamuro, Ijumu, Yagba West and Yagba East.Â
He added that the total number of signatories in the petition for Melayeâ€™s recall was 189,870, of which only 20,868 constituents turned out for the verification exercise.Â
According to him, a total of 18,742 were actually verified, representing only 5.34 per cent, which was far below the 50 plus one per cent required by law.Â
While making the official declaration, he said the result sheets were signed by the agent of the petitioner, Ibrahim Gimba Abubakar, agent of Melaye, Hon. Abubakar Sadiq Muhammed, and himself.
â€œI hereby affirm that the process for the recall of the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District held on this day 28 April, 2018, recorded a 5.34 per cent turnout and has therefore not satisfied the requirement as specified by law for the referendum,â€ he declared.Â
Speaking on the failed recall process yesterday, Melaye, who has had a running battle with his state governor Yahaya Bello and has blamed the governor for his travails, said despite his current travails, his inability to mobilise his constituents, and also deploy agents to monitor the signature verification exercise, countless number of supporters had volunteered to be at the verification exercise without minding the associated risks posed by the Kogi State Government.
Melaye, who spoke from his hospital bed through his media aide, Mr. Gideon Ayodele, said: â€œThe chain of events from last Monday to this day are enough for one to be grateful to God Almighty and all Kogi people both at home and in the diaspora, including friends outside the Confluence State and all over the world, for standing behind me in this trying times.
â€œNeedless to say that all allegations against me by the police are politically-motivated and the timing of my maltreatment and harassment was carefully planned to prevent me from mobilising support against my purported recall.
â€œNo doubt, to recall a representative is guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution as the right of the electorate. What the good people of Kogi West and other lovers of democracy outside the state who are praying for me have done is to stop an instigated and purported recall against me because it was undemocratic, self-serving and beneficial to only a few.
â€œIt is pertinent to say here that though the battle for the recall has been won and lost, my safety in the hospital as heavily guarded by the police since Tuesday, is a cause for concern even as we decry the arrest, continued detention and trial of my brothers, aides, friends and lawyers on trumped-up charges by the police.â€
Also reacting, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State accused the state governor of wasting over N5 billion public funds in his failed plot to recall Melaye.
The party, which described Bello as â€œheartlessâ€, lamented that the N5 billion could have paid at least two monthsâ€™ salaries of workers in Kogi State.
On the boycott of the verification exercise by the electorate, the PDP in a statement signed by Achadu Dickson, Director Research and Documentation, called for a thorough investigation into claims by those who turned out for the exercise that their signatures were forged in the petition against Melaye.
â€œThose who were involved in the petition submitted to INEC for the recall of Senator Dino Melaye must be arrested and tried for forgery,â€ the PDP said.
The party added that the huge human and financial resources deployed to the â€œDino Melaye must goâ€ agenda would have had a meaningful impact on the lives of the downtrodden people of Kogi State, especially workers who are being owed several months salaries.
It declared that the open rejection of the recall agenda by the people of Kogi State was a clear signal that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the governor had been rejected in the state.
The deputy governorship candidate in the 2015 election in Kogi State and the member representing Ikeja Federal Constituency, Hon. James Abiodun Faleke, also described the fallout of the verification exercise as a pointer to the fact that Bello was unpopular in the state.
In separate Twitter posts, he said the ultimate loser in the failed recall exercise was the APC.
According to him, â€œUntil those who worked so hard to win elections for the party in Kogi are given due recognition, Governor Bello will continue to struggle politically without results.â€
Mocking Bello, Faleke said Melaye defeated the governor despite being in police detention.
â€œThe recall project has failed. The people won. The outcome today is not just about Dino but the open rejection of the Bello-led state government.
â€œEven in detention, Melaye defeated them. Clear sign that Bello is very unpopular in Kogi State.â€