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Kogi West: Melaye appeals judgment on recall process

From: Godwin Tsa, Abuja

The Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial district in the Senate, Senator Dino Melaye has asked the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court which dismissed his suit challenging the validity of the process of recalling by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, had in his judgment delivered on September 11, 2017, ordered that the Independent National Electoral Commission “shall proceed with the recall process”.
The judgment brought an end to the earlier ex parte order made by another judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Justice John Tsoho, on July 6, 2017, directing parties to maintain status quo.
Justice Dimgba who took over the matter however ordered INEC shall only go ahead with the recall process upon the service of the petition, the full list and signatures of persons in support of the recall process.
In addition, Justice Dimgba noted that the 90 days period within which the Constitution ordered the INEC to conduct a referendum on receiving the recall petition had been on hold since June 23, when Melaye commenced the suit.
But in a notice of appeal rooted on eight grounds, Dino argued that the Federal High Court erred in law when it held that the petition presented to the INEC for his recall was valid, even when the petition exhibited by INEC was not signed by more than half of the registered voters in his countituency as is required by section 69 of the 1999 constitution.
On this ground, his counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) submitted that the said petition was only signed by three persons, which number is less than the half of the registered voters in his constituency.
In addition, the senior lawyer argued that the petition presented to INEC by the purported constituents of his client was signed by some dead persons whose death certificates were duly exhibited and uncontroverted.
Besides, he argued that the lower court ought not to have relied on general summary for the recall of his client and statical analysis by INEC to hold that the petition purportedly presented to INEC by the constituents was valid, even when it clearly did not meet constitutional requirement of the maximum number of registered voters in his constituency.
Senator Melaye has further challenged the judgment of the lower court on the ground that the court erred in law when it heard that the 90 days provided for by section 69 of the 1999 constitution was paused since June 23, 2017, when he commenced this action and subsequently ordered that the period would continue to run from September 11, 2017, the date of the judgment, even when no such relief was sought by any of the parties in the suit.
He also argued on his further ground of his appeal that, the Federal High Court erred in law when by failing to consider the notice to produce issued to INEC to produce the petition for his recall and not invoking the provisions of section 167 [d] of the Evidence Act, in the face of failure of the INEC to produce the purported petition allegedly signed by the constituents despite service of a notice to produce on it, and relying on more statistical analysis prepared by INEC itself to validate a petition which was invalid on its face.
The appellant therefore urged the Court of Appeal to allow his appeal and to set aside the judgment of the Federal High court.
He also prayed the appellate court to declare the petition as illegal, unconstitutional, invalid, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
In addition, Senator Melaye is seeking a declaration that his recall process initiated against him by INEC on the basis of the petition as illegal, unlawful, same having been commenced and conducted on the basis of an invalid petition.
He asked for a perpetual order of injunction restraining INEC, agents, privies from further continuing with the process of acting on the purported petition presented to it by the purported constituents.

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