Let me start out by saying i deliberately tagged some people who I know are lawyers and will contribute to this discourse.
I hope this sends a loud signal that this is all about deepening our constitutionality and that moronic and imbecilic comments due to partisanship won’t be accommodated.
It started with a call I placed to a friend of mine who is a Lawyer and we both agreed it’s a valid ground to approach the Court.
I’ve seen how with so much frenzy many are sharing the news on the efforts and “success” recorded at the attempt to recall Senator Dino Melaye representing the good people of Kogi West at the Senate of the 8th Assembly.
While the emotional outburst is understandable as many see his recall as victory against “their” enemy and an antagonist of PMB, I will be cautious about the whole process and I will be coming up with why I believe Dino Melaye can escape this.
Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(as amended) states and I quote;
“69. A member of the Senate or of the House Representatives may be recalled as such a member if –
(a) there is presented to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission a petition in that behalf signed by more than one-half of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency alleging their loss of confidence in that member; and
(b) the petition is thereafter, in a referendum conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission within ninety days of the date of receipt of the petition, approved by a simple majority of the votes of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency.”
It is apparent that part “a” of the section 69 has been fulfilled and which naturally activates part “b” of this constitution within the stipulated period.
Now to the lacuna I see in this provision of the constitution and in the whole process.
I believe of Senator Dino Melaye goes to Court to seek for an injunction compelling INEC to stay execution, I think it will be granted.
Do not be unmindful that the Electoral Act has no provision for recall of a legislator, so we shall rely on the provision of the Constitution.
Now there will be need to validate if truly the signatories represents simple majority of his constituency.
Though the Constitution does not stipulates that, I think this is a matter which will go as high as the Supreme Court. Though Senator Dino Melaye who will be the plantiff might bear the cost, there will be need for a forensic analysis of those signatures to eliminate forgery and duplication.
If such is established, and reduces the signatories and signatures below simple majority, the process is abandoned.
Another thing here is; if the case drags on beyond 90 days, the whole process is abandoned as Constitution stipulates INEC must act on the petition within 90 days.
Without being a lawyer, there is one factor that the sponsors of this recall didn’t put into consideration.
INEC just concluded voters registration and yet to release an updated voters register.
This is also a ground to ask for stay of execution as we are yet to find out if the list will be a true representation of simple majority when the voters register is updated.
After the legal exercise, trust this to cause an amendment of Section 69 of the Constitution which will make the recall of a legislator almost impossible.
I foresee insertions of clause or clauses which will stipulate INEC must confirm if such petition was signed by simple majority.
I also foresee a situation where it will be stipulated that once a recall attempt fails, no further attempt to recall the affected senator in that dispensation, or you cannot attempt to recall a legislator twice in a dispensation.
I was a bit audacious while on the phone with my friend. I asked her if it’s possible for those behind the purported move to recall Senator Dino Melaye can be charged to court for perjury?
Some might see this as an attempt to curry favor from Dino Melaye or assert myself as an “Evil Genius”; trust me, I’m not responsible for your imagination and not imprisoned by it.
To all those interested to deepen this conversation, here we are… let’s have it..
God Bless Nigeria