Senator Dino Begs Supreme Court to ‎Declare His Recall Process Illegal

The Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye has asked the Supreme Court to declare the recall process initiated against him by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the basis of a purported petition against him as illegal, unlawful, wrongful, unconstitutional, null and void.
In a notice of appeal dated April 3, 2018, Senator Melaye further asked the apex court to equally set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal delivered on March 16, 2018, ‎which dismissed his appeal against the recall for lacking in merit.
In the notice of appeal, filed by his team of lawyers, headed by Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) with Nkem Okoro and rooted on seven grounds, the Senator has asked the apex court to declare that the statutory 90 days p‎eriod as provided for in section 69(b) of the 1999 constitution, having elapsed by effluxion of time on September 23, 2017, INEC can no longer validly proceed on the basis of the purported petition for his recall, presented on June 23, 2017.
He further prayed for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the electoral body from commencing or further continuing with the process of acting on the purported petition presented to it by his purported ‎constituents.
Some of the grounds upon which the appeal is anchored challenged the entire decision of the Court of Appeal.
Specifically, ground one of the appeal said the Court of Appeal ‎erred in law when it held that, “an unchallenged finding of fact stands”, the basis of which the court held that it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain his appeal, for the alleged failure to appeal against a specific finding of fact at the trial court.
That the Court of Appeal erred in law ‎when it held that ‘it is not for the court to verify the signature on the petition. It is the duty of INEC’, by reason of which the court failed to invalidate the petition presented to INEC.
Another ground of appeal attacked the decision of the Court of Appeal that ‘the voters at the referendum are to show through their votes loss of confidence in the member. It is not for the court to assess the reason for the loss of confidence’ the basis of which it held that the uncontroveted averments in the affidavit of the appeal at the trial court, are not material.
The Court of Appeal had on March 16, 2018, dismissed Dino’s appeal for lacking in merit as it disclosed no cause of action.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Tunde Awotoye, the appellate court resolved all the issues contained in the appeal in favour of INEC and affirmed the judgment of Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja who held that Melaye’s suit was, “hasty, premature and presumptuous.”
However, Dino who was dissatisfied with the judgment, approached the Court of Appeal to set it aside and stop the electoral body from embarking on the recall process.
But, the Court of Appeal, while agreeing with the decision of the trial court, held that the court ought to have struck out the suit for not disclosing any cause of action.
On the issue of lack of fair hearing by the embattled senator, the court dismissed the claim on the grounds that INEC is neither a tribunal or a court of law and also added that, there is no limitation to the counting of the 90 days for the recall process, as it can be extended.
The court further held that the powers of INEC is a statutory one given by the constitution and not even the court can take away the powers of INEC to conduct a referendum.
The court held that, “INEC’s powers is a statutory one given by the constitution and not even the court can take away the powers of INEC to conduct a referendum.
“Such statutory bodies like the INEC should be allowed to exercise their statutory powers without interference by the court. The appellant cannot claim that his right of fair hearing was infringed upon. His right to fair hearing has not been violated since INEC, as a statutory body is not a tribunal neither is it a court of law.
“The appellant has not disclose any cause of action and the suit ought to have been struck out by the trial court for not disclosing any cause of action.
“Having resolved all the issues in the appeal against the appellant, I hereby struck out the suit and dismiss the appeal”, Justice T.O. Awotoye held and added that the 90 days period provided by the constitution for INEC to commence the process of recall can be extended, since it has not started to run.
The electoral body had sent a letter notifying the lawmaker of a petition for his recall, in accordance with its guidelines for the recall of members of the National Assembly.
To carry out the verification of the petitioners, INEC said it will on July 3, 2017, issue a public notice stating the day(s), time, location and other details for the verification.
Senator Melaye, however, approached the Federal High Court in Abuja asking the court to declare the petition presented to INEC illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
In the suit, he sought a declaration that the recall process “is tainted with bad faith, political malice and personal vendetta”, alleging that the petition was signed by “fictitious and none existing persons” in his senatorial district.
He also asked the court to determine whether, by the provisions of Sections 68 and 69 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he can be vividly recalled when the petition was allegedly signed by persons who do not come from his senatorial constituency.
Delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba dismissed the suit on the ground that it was ‘hasty, premature and presumptuous.”

Author: News Editor

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