The Independent National Electoral Commission has begun to seek for ways of vacating the court order restraining it from continuing the process of recalling Senator Dino Melaye.
The commission in a statement on Saturday disclosed that it has officially contacted the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) over the order of the Abuja Federal High Court asking it to maintain the status quo in Melaye’s recall process.
The court had, sequel to a suit filed by Melaye asking it to stop the commission from continuing his recall moves, ordered that both INEC and the senator should maintain the status quo pending the suit before it.
But INEC, in the statement by its national commissioner, Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, said it decided to inform the CJN about the order so as to prevent a precedent that could prevent the commission from carrying out its responsibility in the future.
According to Ibeanu, allowing the current order of the court on the matter could eventually place INEC in a dangerous position to the extent that should similar matter arise in the future the commission will not be able to pursue it.
“Deeply concerned by this situation, the commission at its weekly regular meeting held on 13th July 2017, considered the court order and its implication for the Commission’s ability to carry out its constitutional function regarding the petition to recall the senator.
Read also: US seeks forfeiture of $144m Aluko, Omokore assets from “illicit” Diezani contracts
“After weighing all the options, the commission decided that as a responsible organisation and in line with its longstanding tradition, it should not be seen as disobeying a court order, however inappropriate it may consider the order.
“However, in this particular case, the Commission also decided to take immediate steps to vacate the court order and for the matter to be heard and determined expeditiously. This is because the court adjourned hearing of the Motion on Notice to 29 th September 2017.
“It should be noted that Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) sets a limit of 90 days from the date of the presentation of the petition (21st June 2017) for the exercise to be completed,” part of the statement read.
Ibeanu then denied allegations that the electoral body halted the process of the recall of Melaye because of the decision of the Senate to probe its chairman.
Ibeanu described as “totally incorrect and mischievous.” media reports linking the suspension of the recall process to the Senate decision to probe contract scam in Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), where the INEC chairman, Yakubu Mahmood, served as executive secretary between 2007 and 2012.
He further said that “the decision of the commission to obey the court order, pursue its timeouts vacation and lay a complaint about the nature of the Federal High Court order to the Chief Justice of the Federation cannot, in any way, mean a secession of the process of recall of the Senator, which has already commenced.”