By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday said only a legitimate court order could stop process for the recall of Sen. Dino Melaye as demanded by his Kogi West constituents.
Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of the commission, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that filing a lawsuit was not enough to stop the recall process.
INEC had on Monday released the schedule of activities for the recall of Melaye, the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District in the Senate, with Aug. 19 fixed for verification of signatures of petitioners demanding his recall.
But, various suits have been instituted in courts to stop to stop the process.
The cases include those by Melaye and Concerned Kogi Registered Voters, filed separately at a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking an order to halt INEC from conducting the verification of signatures and the recall.
Oyekanmi said that the actions of the commission were being guided by the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
“The constituents came with sacks of documents which they said were `the signatures’ of more than half of the voting population of Kogi West Senatorial District, which Melaye represents.
“They also presented a register of the said signatories and a letter, asking INEC to begin the process of recalling the senator representing that particular district.
“Subsequently, the commission, in exercise of the powers conferred on it by Sections 116 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), on Monday issued a timetable and schedule of activities for the recall of the senator.
“The first stage is a verification exercise slated for July 10, 2017.
“To that extent, filing a lawsuit is not enough to stop INEC from carrying out its legitimate duty.
“Only a legitimate court order or an injunction can be considered by the commission,’’ he said.
On claims by Melaye that some of the signatures submitted to INEC were forged and that names of dead registered voters were also included, Oyekanmi said that the process of verification would clear all that.
On method INEC would adopt in verifying thumbprints of registered illiterate voters who are part of the signatories for the recall, he said that it would be handled.
“The commission will adopt its normal way of conducting the verification exercise, which will be applicable to both the literate and not-so-literate.’’
He said that the commission would apply its standards in a situation where people believed to have signed the recall letter, failed to show up for signature verification.
“If the verification fails to meet the established standards, the commission will not proceed to the next stage. The recall process automatically terminates there,’’ he stated. (NAN)