Dino Melaye's Recall All you need to know about Senator's recall process

A recall is a constitutional instrument voters can use to unseat a serving lawmaker before the end of their tenure.

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The recall register for Kogi Senator, Dino Melaye play

The recall register for Kogi Senator, Dino Melaye

(Daily Post)
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Without doubt, Dino Melaye is the country's most infamous senator.

Outside of Senate President Bukola Saraki, he's most likely the most well-known lawmaker in the country, and not for the right reasons.

Dino Melaye play

Senator Dino Melaye after a fight in the National Assembly (Google)

 

As early as July 12 last year, the representative of the Kogi West senatorial district was involved in a clash with Senator Remi Tinubu whom he reportedly threatened to beat up and impregnate during a closed Senate session.

In his own defence, Melaye claimed she called him a thug and a dog.

He also said, "Biologically it is not even impossible to impregnate Mrs Tinubu because she has arrived menopause."

Not long afterwards, the Senator travelled to Lagos and posted pictures of himself walking on Bourdillon in Ikoyi, home of the Tinubus, taunting them and their supporters, claiming he had been threatened to not come to Lagos over the clash.

Dino Melaye dares Bola Tinubu's supporters, visits Bourdillion play The Senator visited Bourdillion spoiling for a fight with Tinubu supporters (LIB)

 

This is just one in a long history of Melaye's public antics that dominate conversations in the Nigerian media space.

Around May this year, the senator became embroiled in another controversy after Sahara Reporters claimed the lawmaker never graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University as he had claimed.

This led to a lot of hostilities that resulted in the senator wearing an academic gown to a plenary session and making the infamous 'Ajekun Iya' video that went viral for its hilarity just as much as for its cringe-worthy embarrassment.

Senator Melaye does the Ajekun Iya dance play

Senator Melaye does the Ajekun Iya dance

(Instagram)

 

On June 2, 2017, members of Melaye's constituency made their intentions of recalling him from the National Assembly public.

For them, enough was enough; they were ready to call a vote of no confidence on their representative who had dragged his, and their, public image through the mud.

The group's statement read, "Let it be known that all of the Local Government Areas comprising Kogi West Senatorial Zone are united in their resolve to recall Senator Dino Melaye and remove the disgrace he has become to all of us".

Among 19 listed reasons why the lawmaker was being recalled, the group said, "he is known for a continuous flow of irresponsible utterances which embarrass the constituency", "violence, thuggery and other electoral offences against our people during elections", "he routinely insults other leaders, elders and personalities", " he is indecent and deliberately corrupts public morals", and "he has no respect for party democracy" among a host of others.

Melaye laughed off the recall move, saying, "I am not scared."

Senator Dino Melaye wears academic gown to Senate plenary session on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. play

Senator Dino Melaye wears academic gown to Senate plenary session on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.

(Twitter)

 

He went ahead to claim the recall was a malicious campaign against him, saying, "They (the petitioners) are sponsored by Smart Adeyemi and my Governor (Yahaya Bello) and I want to tell you that those who came to ask for the recall are not even my constituents. And it is unfortunate that they do not even know what to do. INEC told them to go back"

A recall is a constitutional instrument voters can use to unseat a serving lawmaker before the end of their tenure.

Unknown to many observers, and to Melaye's shock, this was only the beginning.

Kogi West is made up of the seven western senatorial districts of Yagba, Mopa Muro, Kabba Bunu, Yagba East, Koton Karfe, Lokoja and Ijumu.

On June 10, voters in Melaye's constituency kicked off the recall process by signing a recall register.

While addressing his supporters the next day on June 11, Melaye threw around more allegations, saying, "Quote me, Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has released N200 million for each of the seven local government areas in my senatorial district to facilitate my recall from the Senate."

Yahaya Bello play Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello has been involved in a war of words with Sen. Dino Melaye and is believed to be behind the recall process

 

On June 12, the embattled senator took to his Twitter handle (@dino_melaye) to claim there had been an assassination attempt on his life.

He tweeted, "Two of my vehicles seveally (sic) damaged with gunshots. Told one of the commissioners to Bello and LG caretaker chairman moved one of my cars.

"Attackers are Govt house police with some criminals accompanied by lokoja caretaker chairman & one Abduullahi Dollar who is SA political."

He ran to the senate to demand that a state of emergency be declared in Kogi state because Governor Bello had made the state very insecure.

Much to everyone's surprise, on June 19, the returning officer for the recall, Adamu Yusuf, announced that a total of 188,580 electorates in Melaye's constituency had signed the recall register.

This constituted 52.3% of the 360,098 registered voters in senatorial district, fulfilling a requirement that more than 51.1% was needed to initiate the recall.

Voters queue up in Kogi to sign Senator Dino Melaye's recall register play

Voters queue up in Kogi to sign Senator Dino Melaye's recall register

(Daily Post)

 

For the next stage, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on June 21, took delivery of signatures from electorates in Kogi state for Melaye's recall.

The signatures, contained in six bags, were submitted at the Headquarters of the country's electoral umpire in Abuja.

The electoral body said it had notified the senator by serving him a notice of recall proceedings on June 22.

Despite his bold face in public, reports started to emerge that Melaye was trying to get INEC to dismiss the process.

On July 3, INEC released the timetable and guidelines for the recall that refused to go away, much to Melaye's discomfort.

According to the timetable, the procedure would kick off on July 10 with the notice of verification, and be concluded with the declaration of the outcome of verification by August 19.

ALSO READ: Step by step of how Dino Melaye can be recalled

It wasn't just idle talk anymore, so Melaye intensified his accusations and turned it up another notch.

Speaking at plenary the next day on July 4, a desperate Melaye pleaded to his colleagues to stand against the injustice of the recall, reiterating that it is merely a ploy by Governor Yahaya Bello to punish him for speaking against his administration.

Melaye said, "The total score of both valid and invalid vote is 118,000 but my governors and his appointees in four days claim they got a signature of over 188,000.

"They got INEC database of registered voters and copied in one writing into a recall register and forged all the signature.

"As I speak to you, over 120 dead certificates issued by the national population commission and these people's relations and families have sworn to affidavit and these certificates have been deposited.

"The names of all these dead people appeared on the recall register submitted to INEC. 116 of my constituency have sworn to an affidavit that their names and signatures appeared in the recall registers and they are not the ones that signed it.

"86 of my constituents have sworn to an affidavit that they were approached that the government wants to carry out a fertiliser empowerment programme and requested for their PVCs and thereby deceived into putting their names in the recall register.

"I am only asking my governor to pay the wages of its workers because a labourer is worthy of its wages. They have been spending money on the pages of newspapers that they want to recall Dino Melaye. This recall is not by my constituents but by the state government.

"This orchestration, injustice, lies, malicious manifestations by my governor must not be entertained in a democracy not because it is Dino Melaye. It could be anybody."

In a show of solidarity, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, responded to Melaye, saying, "What is happening in Kogi, in respect of Senator Dino Melaye, as far as this constitution is concerned, is an exercise in futility.

"They are just wasting precious time because the constitution is clear on what should happen."

Saraki also weighed in, saying, "I really don’t know why a lot of efforts are being wasted that should have gone on more important things.

"Eventually it must come back here for us to decide whether it is satisfactory."

Dino Melaye (left) and the Senate President Bukola Saraki play

Dino Melaye (left) and the Senate President Bukola Saraki

(File)

 

On July 7, while Melaye reportedly intensified efforts to kill the recall process with a court of law, Prince Solomon Soyebi, INEC's National Commissioner on Voter Education and Publicity, claimed in an interview on Channels TV that the recall process is likely to cost "about 1 billion".

When asked whether the commission had been ordered by any court to halt the process, he replied, "We are not unaware on notices being filed in court. 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."

On Monday, July 10, INEC posted the notice of verification for the recall of the lawmaker at the commission's office in Lokoja, capital of Kogi state.

The notice was signed by INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu and it read, "In accordance with Section 69 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), notice is hereby given that the verification for the recall of the member representing Kogi West senatorial district shall hold on the 19th August, 2017."

INEC's notice of verification for the recall of Senator Dino Melaye posted at the commission's office in Lokoja, capital of Kogi state, on Monday July 10, 2017 play

INEC's notice of verification for the recall of Senator Dino Melaye posted at the commission's office in Lokoja, capital of Kogi state, on Monday July 10, 2017

(Wix News)

 

On the same day, INEC spokesperson, Rotimi Oyekanmi told the Premium Times that the commission had just received court papers.

He said, "We have a copy of the court ruling now, so we have to study it and make a decision, and that will take a while."

This was after Melaye had posted court documents on his Twitter page, claiming, "INEC has been served Order restraining them from further action."

 

The July 6 ruling was handed down by Justice John Tsoho of an Abuja Federal High Court who ruled that the status quo be maintained pending the hearing of a motion filed by the senator to seek an interlocutory injunction.

According to Melaye's counsel, Mike Ozekhome, this was an order to stop the process entirely until his case is heard in court on September 29.

On Thursday, July 13, INEC announced that it would be suspending the recall process in respect of the court order.

The commission's statement read, "As a responsible, law-abiding institution, INEC will comply with the order. However, INEC has also decided to take immediate steps to vacate the court order and for the matter to be heard & determined expeditiously."

On September 11, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba dismissed the suit by Senator Melaye and ordered INEC to proceed with the recall process, subject to the service of the petition, the full list and signatures of persons in support of the process.

UPDATE

On Monday, September 18, INEC released an amended timetable with the verification process scheduled to be conducted on October 14.

(This article will be updated as events unfold).

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