Melaye’s recall: Lawyers differ on court’s likely verdict

Lawyers yesterday expressed divergent views over the legal action by Senator Dino Melaye seeking to stop his recall by his constituents.

Voters in Kogi West Senatorial District had on June 10 signed a petition seeking Melaye’s recall.

But in the suit in an Abuja Federal High Court with number: FHC/ABJ/CS/567/2017 filed by his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Melaye wants the court to grant an injunction prohibiting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from going ahead with his recall which is based on Section 69 of the Constitution.

He said the signatures purportedly collated from constituents were fictitious as they contained those of dead people, and, as such, INEC’s action based on that should be voided.

A former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Akin Olujimi (SAN), said the action can be voided if Melaye makes a good case for it.

On his part, Joe Agi (SAN) said the court can halt the recall process if there is evidence that there is illegality in the condition precedent for INEC to exercise the powers. He explained that if Melaye can prove that 20 persons out of 100 their signatures are forged, it can be a serious cause for concern and to be challenged in court.

“Look at Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution which says that when a member of the Senate or House of Representatives is to be recalled there must be a petition to the chairman of INEC signed by more than one-half of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency alleging that there is total loss of confidence. Thereafter a referendum conducted by INEC within 90 days from the date of receipt of such petition approved by a simple majority of votes from persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency,” he said.

In his contribution, Hamid Ajibola Jimoh said there is likely of the case succeeding in court if Melaye can prove that the provisions of Section 69 of the Constitution was not complied with in calling for the recall.

However, Ilorin-based SAN, Abeny Mohammed said the court cannot stop the recall being a constitutional procedure, adding that it will require a major defect or non-compliance to the process to succeed.

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