By Chibuzo Ukaibe,
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday declared that it has suspended action on the verification exercise for the recall of the Senator representing Kogi West senatorial district, Dino Melaye, following the court order which asked it to maintain status quo.
The commission, while noting that it will appeal the court order, also said it will draw the attention of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnogehn, to the effect of the court order on the performance of the commission’s constitutional duty with regards to the recall exercise.
The commission lamented that the adjourned hearing of the motion on notice to September 29, 2017 affects the constitutionally required 90 days’ time limit for the exercise to be completed, following the presentation of the petition.
INEC disclosed this in a statement signed by a national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Prince Adedeji Soyebi after its regular weekly meeting.
Recall that INEC was on Monday served an order from a Federal High Court in Abuja, instituted by Sen Melaye, which asked parties to maintain status quo till the determination of the plaintiff’s motion on notice.
The commission had, in keeping with its schedule, posted notification for the verification process in the senatorial district.
But in the statement signed by Soyebi, the commission said in its regular weekly meeting it “considered the order given by the Federal High Court, Abuja dated July 6, 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 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.
The statement noted: “As a responsible, 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 and determined expeditiously.
“Whereas, the court adjourned hearing of the Motion on Notice to 29th September 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 the presentation of the petition (21st June, 2017) for the exercise to be completed.
“The Commission further decided to draw the attention of the Chief Justice of Nigeria to the order in view of its effect on the performance of the Commission’s constitutional duty to conduct the referendum for the recall in Kogi West Senatorial district”.
Meanwhile, the Commission has also approved a policy of comprehensive audit after all elections.
It said the policy is in line with its commitment of ensuring transparency and overall improvement of the electoral process.