The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced a decision to seek a vacation of the court order obtained by Mr. Dino Melaye, the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, to stop it from conducting a referendum as part of the recall process initiated by the embattled politician’s constituents.
The electoral body announced its decision in a statement issued by Mr. Adedeji Soyebi, National Commissioner, and Chairman, Information, and Voter Education Committee. According to the statement, the decision was taken after its meeting on Thursday. While stating that it will comply with the Federal High Court order secured by Mr. Melaye, INEC said it has begun the process to vacate same for the matter to speedily heard. The commission noted that while the court adjourned the hearing of Mr. Melaye’s motion on notice to 29 September, Section 69 of the constitution stipulates a 90-day limit, beginning from the day of the presentation of a petition (21 June), for the recall exercise to be completed.
“As a responsible and law-abiding institution, INEC will comply with the order. However, the Commission has also decided to take immediate steps to vacate the court order and for the matter to be heard expeditiously. Whereas, the court adjourned hearing of the motion on notice to September 29th 2017, it should be noted that Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) sets a limit of 90 days from the date of presentation of the petition (21st June 2017) for the exercise to be completed,” stated the electoral body.
INEC also drew the attention of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to the Federal High Court order in view of the fact that it restrains it from carrying out its lawful duty of conducting a referendum for the recall in Mr. Melaye’s senatorial district.
On 6 July, the Federal High Court, Abuja, issued an order directing parties in the suit to maintain the status quo until the determination of Mr. Melaye’s motion on notice, which seeks an injunction to stop INEC from acting on the petition by registered voters in his senatorial district.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, INEC approved a policy of comprehensive post-election audit. This, it stated, is a furtherance of its commitment towards ensuring transparency and improvement of the country’s electoral process.