The embattled Senator may be in intensive care at the National Hospital, Abuja, but that will not stall his recall process from the Senate, the electoral commission, INEC, has declared.
You will remember last year that thousands of constituents of Dino Melaye’s Kogi West had last year written to INEC, to demand the recall of the senator.
Although the electoral commission tried to commence the process as required by law, it was stopped by various legal manoeuvrings of the senator.
The Court of Appeal, however, eventually gave the commission the authority to proceed with the recall. INEC consequently released a timetable for the process to commence on April 28.
Mr Melaye is in hospital after he allegedly jumped off a police vehicle while being taken to Kogi where the police want to try him for criminal conspiracy and allegedly sponsoring criminals.
“The process is continuing according to a court order and the constitution. It has nothing to do with him being in prison or anywhere. It’s a process it must continue,” Oluwole Uzzi, INEC’s director of voter education and publicity told PREMIUM TIMES.
On whether Mr Melaye would be able to monitor the recall process from his hospital bed, Mr Uzzi said, “He can choose to have his agents present if he can’t be present.”
The Kogi State INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, James Apam, in a press conference on Wednesday in Lokoja also said that the commission had put all necessary modalities in place to ensure a hitch-free exercise.
Mr Melaye’s media aide, Gideon Ayodele, however, decried his principal’s latest ordeal to PREMIUM TIMES Friday morning, saying the acts of the police were orchestrated to keep the senator preoccupied amidst ongoing efforts to recall him.
“They planned everything,” Mr Ayodele said. “It was a plot to get him distracted and make it difficult for him to rally his base or verify signatures.”
Today, Saturday, INEC would verify the signatures of the thousands who signed to recall the lawmaker. The results would be announced on Sunday. If the signatures are successfully verified to be positive, then INEC will fix a date for a referendum in Kogi West to remove the senator.
Prominent civic groups, like Enough is Enough (EIE) Nigeria, have said they would monitor the recall process.
The EIE recently launched “the citizen’s guide to the recall process” to educate Nigerians on how to constitutionally recall a lawmaker they are displeased with.
Mr Melaye, a key ally of Senate President Bukola Saraki, has blamed his travails on the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello. Both men are members of Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, but are political adversaries. Mr Bello has, however, denied being responsible for the lawmaker’s travails.
Should Mr Melaye be successfully recalled, his would be the first successful recall of a federal lawmaker in Nigeria’s recent democratic experience.