Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West, has suffered a fresh setback to halt his recall as a Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday dismissed his suit, challenging the validity of the process of recalling him by his constituents.
The court, presided by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, in dismissing the suit, described Melaye’s case as “hasty, premature and presumptuous” as the INEC had already scheduled the exercise for the verification of the authenticity of the signatures in support of the petition being complained about by Melaye.
“He must first go into the verification exercise and only when he does not get justice that he can come to court,” Justice Dimgba said.
Justice Dimgba went on to give INEC the green-light to continue with the recall process. However, he held that the 90 days period within which the Constitution required INEC to conduct a referendum on receiving the recall petition had been paused since June 23, when Melaye filed the suit. He therefore ordered that the period would only continue running again from Monday.
The judgment invalidates an earlier ex parte order made by another judge of the Federal High Court Abuja, Justice John Tsoho, on July 6, 2017, directing parties to maintain status quo.
In any case, Justice Dimgba, to whom the case was reassigned, said INEC shall only proceed with the recall process, subject to the service of the petition, the full list and signatures of persons in support of the recall process.
He also ordered INEC to issue an amended recall timetable, giving the senator a minimum of two weeks to prepare himself to defend against the recall process.
The amended timetable should be served on Melaye, Justice Dimgba said.
And contrary to Melaye’s contention, the judge said there was no provision in section 69 of the Constitution requiring his constituents to afford him fair hearing before sending such petition is sent to INEC.