By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
Senator Dino Melaye has headed to the Supreme Court, challenging the Appeal Court ruling that okayed the recall process initiated against him by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Senator representing Kogi West in the upper chamber, described the purported petition against him as illegal, unlawful, wrongful and unconstitutional, null and void.
Senator Melaye in a notice of appeal dated April 3, 2018, further asked the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal delivered on March 16, 2018, which dismissed his appeal against the recall for lacking in merit.
Also in the appeal, Melaye is asking the apex court to declare that the statutory 90 days period as provided for in section 69(b) of the 1999 constitution, having elapsed by effluxion of time on September 23, 2017, the Independent National Electoral Commission can no longer validly proceed on the basis of the purported petition for his recall, presented on June 23, 2017.
He further prayed for an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC from commencing or further continuing with the process of acting on the purported petition presented to it by his purported constituents.
The lead Counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) with Nkem Okoro in the notice of appeal premised on seven grounds.
Some of the grounds upon which the appeal is anchored challenged the entire decision of the Court of Appeal.
He, specifically, in ground one said the Court of Appeal erred in law when it held that ‘an unchallenged finding of fact stands’, the basis of which the court held that it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain his appeal, for the alleged failure to appeal against a specific finding of fact at the trial court.
That the Court of Appeal erred in law when it held that ‘it is not for the court to verify the signature on the petition. It is the duty of INEC’, by reason of which the court failed to invalidate the petition presented to INEC.
Melaye also insisted that ‘the voters at the referendum are to show through their votes loss of confidence in the member. It is not for the court to assess the reason for the loss of confidence’ the basis of which it held that the uncontroveted averments in the affidavit of the appeal at the trial court, are not material.
It will be recalled that the Court of Appeal had on March 16, 2018, dismissed Dino’s appeal for lacking in merit as it disclosed no cause of action.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Tunde Awotoye, the appellant resolved all the issues contained in the appeal in favour of the INEC.
The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, who held that Melaye’s suit was “hasty, premature and presumptuous.”
Dissatisfied with the judgment, Dino approached the Court of Appeal to set it aside and stop INEC from embarking on the recall process.
However, in a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeal, agreed with the decision of the trial court. It held that the court ought to have struck out the suit for not disclosing any cause of action.
On the issue of lack of fair hearing tailed by the embattled senator, the court dismissed the claim on the grounds that INEC is neither a tribunal or a court of law.
The appellate court said there is no limitation to the counting of the 90 days for the recall process, as it can be extended.
The court further held that 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.