BEVERLY HILLS, July 15, (THEWILL) – The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has alerted the Office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, to the order from the Federal High Court in Abuja which restrained the commission from continuing with the process for the recall of Senator Dino Melaye, initiated by the electorate in Kogi West Senatorial District.
It went on to deny media reports that the commission halted the process for the recall of Melaye as a result of the decision of the Senate to probe the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND, where the INEC Chairman, Mahmud Yakubu, served as Executive Secretary 2007 to 2012.
The commission insisted that the reports linking the suspension of the recall process to the Senate decision to probe contract scam in TETFUND is “totally incorrect and mischievous”.
In a statement issued on Saturday, INEC National Commissioner, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu explained that the national electoral body decided to draw the attention of the CJN to the order so as to prevent a precedent that could prevent the commission from carrying out its responsibility in the future.
He pointed out that if the current order was allowed, it could put the commission in a dangerous position to pursue a similar process involving any other individual as such a person could go to court to frustrate the process.
Ibeanu said that the commission opted to obey the court which directed the maintainance of status quo to await the determination of the motion on notice filed by the Counsel to Melaye, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, in order not to be seen to be disobeying valid court orders.
He said, “Deeply concerned by this situation, the commission at its weekly regular meeting held on 13th July 2017, considered the court order and its implication for the Commission’s ability to carry out its constitutional function regarding the petition to recall the Senator.
“After weighing all the options, the commission decided that as a responsible organisation and in line with its longstanding tradition, it should not be seen as disobeying a court order, however inappropriate it may consider the order.
“However, in this particular case, the Commission also decided to take immediate steps to vacate the court order and for the matter to be heard and determined expeditiously. This is because the court adjourned hearing of the Motion on Notice to 29th September 2017.
“It should be noted that Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) sets a limit of 90 days from the date of the presentation of the petition (21st June 2017) for the exercise to be completed.”
The INEC National Commissioner said that the commission’s decision to commence the recall process on Melaye in response to a request by voters of Kogi West to initiate a recall process against Melaye.
He recalled that “the decision of the commission to obey the court order, pursue its timeouts vacation and lay a complaint about the nature of the Federal High Court order to the Chief Justice of the Federation cannot, in any way, mean a secession of the process of recall of the Senator, which has already commenced.”
Ibeanu reiterated INEC’s determination to carry out its constitutional responsibility without fear or favour.