The Dino Melaye recall process may just be dead in the water and there's some back story to it all.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) appeared unmoved by the senator’s attempts to throw plenty of legal spanners in the recall process, earlier on.
“We are not unaware of notices being filed in court”, said Prince Solomon Soyebi who is in charge of voter education at INEC. “And just as we have maintained, a notice does not constitute a stoppage; it's not an injunction on its own. There has never been a specific court order giving injunction restraining us from performing our constitutional duties."
That was a defiant INEC.
That was July 7, 2017.
Soyebi was speaking against the backdrop of a court order issued by Justice John Tsoho which sought to impede the recall process.
Melaye’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome had worked his socks off beforehand to secure that injunction.
On Thursday, June 29, 2017, Ozekhome penned a letter to INEC demanding that the recall process be halted. The letter was addressed to the chairman of the commission.
INEC laughed the letter off as did the rest of the nation. Everyone regarded Melaye and his lawyers as a bunch of jokers.
Suddenly, the joke is on the rest of us.
On Thursday, July 13, 2017, the entire country yawned as INEC went limp, helpless and without balls. For Nigerians, the feeling of deja vu couldn't be missed.
The electoral commission said it will be obeying the court order which asked that the status quo be maintained.
Some parts of the INEC statement read as follows:
"INEC held its regular weekly meeting today and considered the order given by the Federal High Court, Abuja dated 6th July 2017 directing the parties to maintain the status quo till the determination of the plaintiff’s motion on notice, in respect of the suit filed by Senator Dino Melaye, seeking orders of injunction against the Commission to stop it from acting on the petition by the registered voters of Kogi West Senatorial district.
"As a responsible, law-abiding institution, INEC will comply with the order."
What changed? How did INEC go from a tough talking, focused organisation to a castrated bull dog in the space of two weeks?
Sahara Reporters says it can provide the answer:
“The sudden U-turn by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to halt action on efforts by voters in Kogi West to recall Senator Dino Melaye came as a result of the Senate’s decision to probe the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund)”, the online news platform wrote.
It continued: “After a meeting earlier today, INEC decided to freeze the recall effort, citing legal complications.
“From 2007 to 2012, INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, served as TETFUND’s Executive Secretary. His time at the Fund was marked by a series of allegations of corruption against him.
“It is not an accident that, once the Senate threatened to investigate TETFund, Professor Mahmood Yakubu’s INEC quickly retreated from the ongoing effort to recall Senator Dino Melaye.”
If Sahara Reporters is to be believed, INEC chickened out once the senate resolved to go after its chairman.
If Sahara Reporters is to be believed, the senate has Mahmood’s ‘nudes’ and will not hesitate to make them public if the INEC chairman refuses to play ball.
It’s called blackmail.
These are grave allegations on the surface and beneath the surface. If the chairman of your nation’s electoral commission gives in this easily to cheap blackmail, then the entire institution he presides over is in peril and a joke. You could also say that a character who succumbs to threats of blackmail from a bunch of badly behaved lawmakers, shouldn’t remain a day longer in office in a sane country.
Of course no one is saying INEC shouldn’t obey court orders, but the transition from Lion one day to Lamb the next, was too swift. Too suspicious. Too eyebrow raising.
INEC says it will seek to vacate the order some day, but the entire Dino Melaye recall process may just be dead in the water.
Lawmakers and senators are too powerful around here. They are also vindictive, petty and selfish.
If the stories flying around concerning their successful blackmail of Mahmood are anything to go by, best believe we've finally hit rock bottom.
An INEC chairman should be above board; seeing as he’s the custodian of millions of votes that decide the country’s leaders.
I expect Mahmood to strongly denounce the stories insinuating that he’s become the tool of blackmail in the hands of a perverse national assembly.
Mahmood has got to speak up or sue the publishers of the story.
And he’s got little time left.