The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would continue with the process for the recall of Senator Dino Melaye in line with the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
INEC’s Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, told Channels TV: “For now, all legal hurdles as far as we are aware have been removed so the commission should proceed as if the case does not occur.”
Voters of Kogi West senatorial district of the troubled senator appended signatures for the recall of Melaye.
The recall process was commenced by INEC, but Melaye headed for the court to halt it, but he lost at the High Court and thereafter appealed.
At the Appeal Court on Friday in Abuja, the three judges, led by Justice Tunde Awotoye, dismissed the appeal filed by Melaye against the judgment delivered by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba at the Federal High Court in 2017, on grounds that there was no cause of action.
Justice Dimgba had on September 11, 2017, dismissed the suit filed by Senator Melaye, seeking to stop INEC from initiating his recall from the National Assembly.
He held that Senator Melaye’s complaints were “hasty, premature and presumptuous” and therefore ordered INEC to go ahead with its planned verification exercise of the 188,588 registered voters who were said to have signed a petition in support of the recall process.
Unsatisfied with Justice Dimgba’s judgment, Malaye proceeded to the Appeal Court two days later, arguing that the Federal High Court judge “erred in law” when he validated the petition presented to INEC for his recall.
But the Appeal Court in dismissing the suit held that the Federal High Court ought not to have entertained Melaye’s suit ab initio.
The court held that the 90 days stipulated by the Constitution within which a recall process could take place “has no time limitation,” stating that the lower court ought not to have entertained Melaye’s suit ab initio.
Asked about the specific steps INEC would take in continuing the process based on the judgment, Osaze-Uzzi said the commission would get in touch with Melaye and ask him to give it an agent after which it would conduct a verification exercise for the signatories to the recall petition.
The electoral body will also release a timetable informing Nigerians of every step in the process and the date for each.
“If all the steps are successful, then we will have to go and conduct a referendum,” he said.
Melaye has, however, rejected the ruling of the Appeal Court, and will appeal it at the Supreme Court.
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil,” Melaye said.
“The battle to continue to speak the truth and fight for the oppressed civil servants and people of Kogi State is a battle of no retreat, no surrender. Every lie has an expiry date. I shall overcome.”
Melaye, who faulted the judgment on Friday hours after it was delivered, vowed to appeal the ruling at the Supreme Court.
The lawmaker noted that he would not be intimidated by the ruling and that he would continue to fight for the course of justice in Kogi State and the nation in general.