The move to recall Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) from the upper chamber of the National Assembly has gathered fresh momentum with the recent timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the exercise.
Over 188,000 constituents across the Kogi West senatorial district had reportedly signed signatures sometimes in June 2017, indicating their readiness to recall Melaye on account of his poor representation and performance.
INEC commenced the recall process but stopped along the line, following legal actions instituted by Senator Melaye against the exercise.
On March 24, 2018, the INEC released the timetable and schedule of activities for the recall of the senator.
The electoral umpire said it had proceeded with the move pursuant to a judgment by the Court of Appeal, Abuja, delivered on March 16 , 2018 which gave the Commission leave to continue with the recall process.
A statement released by INEC, which was signed by its Secretary, Mrs Augusta Ogakwu, contained the timetable and schedule of activities for the recall process.
The schedule of activities is expected to commence with the posting of the notice of verification at the commission’s office in Lokoja, Kogi State and end with the declaration of the outcome of the verification on April 29, 2018.
The statement said, “Pursuant to the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division , delivered on March 16, 2018, the Independent National Electoral Commission hereby issues this timetable and schedule of activities for the recall of the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Kogi State.
“The process will begin on March 27 , 2018, with the posting of the notice of verification at the commission’s local government area office in Lokoja, Kogi State and end with the declaration of the outcome of the verification on April 29 , 2018.”
The commission stressed that it was exercising its powers as conferred on it by “Sections 69 and 110 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 ( as amended); Section 116 of the Electoral Act 2010 ( as amended) and of all other powers enabling it in that behalf. ”
Also, according to the statement, April 4 was set as the last day for submission of application by interested observers, while April 20 is set as the last day for the submission of the names of verification agents for the member sought to be recalled and the petitioners.
Furthermore, there is a stakeholders’ meeting on April 25 at INEC’s state office; conduct of verification on April 28 in all polling units in the constituency and declaration of the outcome of verification on April 29 at the commission’s local government area office in Lokoja.
Meanwhile, there are discordant tunes from some Kogi West constituents as the electoral umpire braces up to bring the recall exercise to its climax.
While some of the constituents have expressed delight with the recall exercise, others have misgivings, saying the process was being prosecuted by “external forces” and not Kogi West constituents.
A constituent from Kabba-Bunu Local Government Area, Segun Modeyin, said the recall exercise was not in the best interest of the people of Kogi West.
Modeyin described Senator Melaye as someone who is loved by the people and that any attempt to recall him would fail.
“To me, it will be an exercise in futility because Dino Melaye is someone who is well accepted amongst people in his senatorial district. He has been representing us well.
“In recent times, he has done a lot in impacting lives in his senatorial district through the execution of various constituency projects.
“In fact, he has touched virtually every community within his senatorial district.
“Our rural people have enjoyed electricity, water and road construction projects from the same Dino.
“Our people have resolved that whichever party that Dino Melaye chooses to contest for a second term, they would vote for him because of their confidence in him.
“I believe the recall exercise is purely a political vendatta from the Kogi State government. I believe the APC as a party needs to wade into the face-off between the senator and the governor.
“The Senator is performing and I don’t believe any recall would work against him.
According to him, if the INEC should go ahead with the recall exercise, they would make sure that each of the signature they have collected are duly authenticated.
“I doubt if they (INEC) can authenticate those signatures. We are surprised that INEC which is supposed to be an unbiased umpire is the one pushing for the recall of our senator.
“It is unfortunate that those who are supposed to protect the rule of law are the ones doing otherwise. Our call on INEC is to ensure that each of the signature gathered is confirmed to be truly those of the constituents, if not, we will make issue out of it”, he said.
One of the constituents from Lokoja, who has been in the forefront of Dino’s recall, Mr Suleiman Abdulmalik, however, expressed confidence that the exercise will be successful.
“We are going to succeed. Dino can only run but he cannot run forever; the law must surely catch up with him. We are getting close.
“He is using the judiciary to frustrate the process but we will surely get there. Even within the judiciary, we are winning. He has gone to the Supreme Court. And once we defeat him there, the recall would be a done deal,” Abdulmalik also said.
He expressed the optimism that constituents across the senatorial district who appended their signatures for the recall would turn out during the verification exercise to authenticate them.
“We are sure we will secure the over 50% signatures required for the recall. It would be verifiable and at the end of the day, we will succeed.
“The recall is our project. We cannot continue to support a senator that will be deriding his own party, the president and governor of his own state. His acts are always un-parliamentary and the recall is to enable us correct that,” he said.
Abdulmalik, who said that the recall exercise was on course, added that “there will be no going back on it.”
According to him, the people would not welcome any political solution at this point.
Meanwhile, Senator Melaye has urged the Supreme Court to declare the petitions submitted to the INEC, seeking his recall as illegal.