The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed an appeal by Kogi West Senator, Dino Melaye, challenging the validity of the process of his recall embarked upon by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The unanimous judgment of a three-man panel of the appeal court also dismissed the suit which Melaye had filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja to challenge the validity of the recall process.
With the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of the suit, the preconditions earlier given by the Federal High Court in Abuja for INEC to fulfill before continuing the recall had been set aside.
The appeal court’s judgment has therefore paved the way for INEC to continue the recall process which had been stalled since June 23, 2017 when Melaye commenced the suit.
The court ruled that contrary to Melaye’s contention, the 90 days provided by the 1999 Constitution for the recall process to be concluded had not run out but had been paused since July 6, 2017, when Justice Tsoho of the Federal High Court made an order halting the process.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja, to whom the case was later reassigned, had in his judgment delivered on September 11, 2017, dismissed Melaye’s suit, but gave a pre-condition for INEC to continue with the recall exercise.
As the pre-condition for the process to continue INEC, ordered the electoral body to serve the senator with the recall petition and the accompanying documents, including the signatures of the about one-half of the constituents calling for his (Melaye’s) recall.
But Melaye had appealed against the Federal High Court’s judgment.
But delivering the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal on Friday, Justice Tunde Awotoye, substantially affirmed the judgment of Justice Dimgba but held that the Federal High Court ought not to have heard the case as the suit did not disclose any cause of action against INEC.
The court also dismissed the allegation of denial of fair hearing leveled against INEC by Melaye.
The court added that the powers of INEC to conduct a recall process was given by the Constitution and such the could not be taken away even by the court.
The court held, “The powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is a statutory one given by the constitution and not even the court can take away the powers of INEC to conduct a referendum.”
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