Olusola Fabiyi, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission says it has received court papers in a case filed by Senator Dino Melaye to stop it from verifying the signatures of members of his constituency who are asking the Senate to sack him.
The commission said that the court papers were served on it in Abuja on Wednesday.
The Director of Publicity and Voter Education at the commission, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone, said the commission would study the court papers before taking a position on it.
“We have received the court papers. The commission was served on Wednesday. We are going to study the papers before knowing what to do. The papers do not mean that we are going to stop what we are doing now. However, we need to study them before knowing what we are going to do,” he said.
It will be recalled that the commission had last Saturday told our correspondent that it merely read the story on the suit filed by Melaye in the media, adding that it would not rely on newspaper publications to do its job.
The commission, therefore, said it would proceed with the programmes it had lined up for the verification of signatures of the voters who asked the senator to return home.
But Melaye’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), told our correspondent that the case was actually filed last week Friday.
He said the court might not have been able to serve the commission earlier because “Friday is usually observed as half-working day in Abuja and in other government agencies.
“This is because the workers go for prayers and probably go home from there. So, if the commission said we didn’t serve it earlier, it might be correct.”
The commission, after reviewing the case filed by Melaye, is expected to make a pronouncement if the exercise will commence on July 3, when it is expected to release the timetable for the verification of the signatures.
Melaye had in his suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/587/2017, filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, described the recall petitions as fictitious.
INEC had on Thursday last week written a letter to Melaye to inform him about the demand by the people of his constituency to recall him from the Senate.
Kogi West, which Melaye represents in the Senate, has seven local governments areas.
Signatures and petitions from each of the local government areas were packaged in seven bags, which were tagged according to the names of the local governments, and submitted to the commission.
The local governments and the percentage of voters who signed the recall petition showed that Yagba West had the highest number of voters asking Melaye to return home from the Senate.
The breakdown, as shown in the petition is: Yagba West, 55.7 per cent; Lokoja, 54.8 per cent ; Kogi, 52.77 per cent; Yagba East, 52 per cent; Ijumu (Melaye’s local government), 51.8 per cent; Mopa/Moro, 50.4 per cent and Kabba/ Bunu, 46.7 per cent.
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Source: The Punch