Fresh confusion after 188,588 constituents signed for Dino’s recall
Blame game, denials and doubts have already set in in the recall process of Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West). Contrary to claims by those handling the process that everyone in the senatorial district is in support of the move, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says it is not part of the contest while other people within the APC family say the number of those who appended their signatures is grossly overblown. Our correspondent looks at the issue.
The move by the people of Kogi West Senatorial District to recall Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West) from the Senate recently reached a crescendo with the reported collection of 188,588 signatures, representing about 52.1 per cent of registered voters in the senatorial district.
The recall process of Senator Dino has no doubt elicited a lot of interests from political watchers; especially given the fact that no lawmaker has ever been successfully recalled either from the National Assembly or Houses of Assembly since the inception of democracy in 1999.
Observers of the unfolding political drama are watching keenly to see if the people of Kogi West Senatorial District would indeed break the record of being the first to recall a senator from the National Assembly.
Daily Trust reports that the recall process of Senator Melaye began over two weeks ago across the seven local government areas that make up his senatorial district amidst allegations of involvement of some external forces in the recall saga, including the state government.
The seven local government areas reportedly involved in the recall project are Lokoja, Yagba West, Yagba East, Ijumu, Kabba/Bunu, Mopa-Muro and Kogi.
The Returning Officer for the recall process, Malam Ademu Yusuf, had on Monday, June 19, while announcing the result from the seven local government areas, said the collation was done nearly ‘10 days ago in Kabba’, the headquarters of the senatorial district.
Malam Yusuf noted that of 360,098 total registered voters in all the seven local government areas, 188,588 had signed for the recall of Senator Melaye.
“Constitutionally, the requirement for the recall is 50.1 per cent of the registered voters and we already have 52.1 per cent,” he said.
A chieftain of the APC from Kogi West, Pius Kolawole, while addressing the people from the zone at the APC secretariat in Lokoja, said the recall exercise was not about the APC family only.
He said the move had the backing of the electorate from all political parties that registered and voted during the 2015 election in Kogi West.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Kogi West Senatorial District has dissociated itself from having anything to do with the entire exercise, saying the recall process was not having the backing of the party as claimed.
Kogi West PDP Chairman, Barr. Kola Ojo, in a statement, said: “PDP as a party, especially the Kogi West Senatorial District chapter; is not and cannot be part of the recall project.
“Our party has a well organised structure where decisions or resolutions are taken or passed on issues such as this. No such resolution was at anytime passed.
“Our great party should not be railroaded into APC’s ill-motivated, self-serving and self-destruct recall project or process.
“Happily, the two PDP senators from Kogi East and Central senatorial districts are performing well and are not being recalled. APC should, therefore, not drag us into their confusion.”
Leaders of the movement for the recall of Dino had on Tuesday, June 20, moved to the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja to submit their petition.
The group, under the aegis of ‘Concerned Indigenes of Kogi West’, presented six bags of documents containing the signatures of the electorate from the seven council areas in the senatorial district.
Chief Cornelius Olowo, the spokesperson for the group, told journalists that the move to recall Dino was based on his poor performance since his election to the Senate in 2015.
However, those from Senator Dino Melaye’s camp have since faulted the exercise, especially the number of signatures reportedly generated from across the seven local government areas which they claimed included names of people that died long ago.
According to them, in the 2015 senatorial elections, Dino Melaye was announced winner with 41,120 votes, while Smart Adeyemi of the PDP had 38,148 votes.
They said that the Election Petitions Tribunal ordered a recount based on a challenge from Adeyemi and that the recount showed that more than 2000 invalid votes were counted for Dino.
“Despite that, his victory was upheld by the tribunal which said removal of the invalid votes did not substantially alter the final results.
“Today, we are told that they have already harvested more than 188,000 signatures to recall him. The figure is said to represent 52 per cent of voters in his senatorial district.
“Between Dino and Smart, we had 79,268 votes. The other parties had votes in couple of hundreds. There are doubts if all votes cast in the 2015 senatorial election in the district will hit 188,000, which is just 52 per cent,” the group said.
A check by our correspondent at the INEC headquarters in Lokoja indicated that the total number of registered voters in Kogi West Senatorial District prior to the senatorial election in 2015 was 337,572.
However, after the senatorial election, there was a Continuous Voters’ Registration exercise conducted prior to the November 21, 2015 gubernatorial election in the state which increased the number of registered voters in the senatorial district from 337, 572 to 360, 098.
Those in the recall movement are said to have premised their recall process on the figures of registered voters obtained prior the 2015 governorship election in the state.
The provision for the recall of a Senator or Member of the House of Representatives is contained in Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) while process for the recall is contained in ‘INEC Guidelines for the Recall of a Member of the National Assembly or State House of Assembly’ as found in Section 4 of the INEC Act 1998.
Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution says: “A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives may be recalled as such a member if:
(a) There is presented to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission a petition in that behalf signed by more than one-half of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency alleging their loss of confidence in that member; and
In the same vein, the INEC Guidelines provides that on receipt of a petition for the recall of a national state legislator the commission shall act within 90 days.
Within this period the commission is expected to cross-check that the signatories appear on the authenticated Voters’ Register; and if satisfied, conduct a referendum.
Also, the guidelines provide that the commission shall, if satisfied that more than one-half of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency endorsed the petition, issue a public notice stating the days, time and location of referendum to be carried out at the same time throughout the constituency and at such centres as may be designated by the commission.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it had conveyed a letter to Senator Dino Melaye notifying him of receipt of a petition from his constituents seeking his recall.
INEC National Commissioner, Malam Mohammed Haruna, told newsmen in Abuja that the management of INEC considered the petition submitted by some registered voters from Kogi West Senatorial District to start the process of recalling Senator Melaye.
But given the cumbersome processes involved in recalling a senator as contained in INEC’s guidelines vis-a-vis the political intrigues and power play, legal experts and pundits are of the view that the exercise would not be a tea party to sail through.
A lawyer, Barrister Joel Usman, said a senator or any member of the national or state assembly could be recalled by constituents given the provisions of the Constitution, but that the cumbersome processes and requirements often made such exercise a futility in most of the cases.
“A recall is like an election. Before you say you are representing a constituency or senatorial district in the National Assembly, you would have to be first elected to represent the people. After electing you as a senator, which is a vote of confidence, if the representative fails to represent the people well, the people have the right to recall such a senator back and reelect someone else.
“However, with particular reference to Senator Dino Melaye, the first question we need to ask ourselves is whether it is those who elected Dino to represent them at the Senate that are asking him to come back because they have lost confidence in him,” he said.
“This question comes up because I have watched on the television a situation where some of the people he is representing passed vote of confidence on him and the party that sponsored him has also passed a vote of confidence on him. So, is it the people that are really seeking for his recall or there are some external forces?” he said.
Political pundits are also of the views that given the cordial relationship that exists between the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Dino Melaye, there would be a strong opposition to the move to recall Dino.
Dino has been a strong ally and loyal supporter of Saraki, especially during his ordeal at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) before he was recently acquitted and discharged.
Culled from Daily Trust
APC caucus tackles opposition for tagging Buhari an absentee President
The All Progressive Congress (APC) caucus of the National Assembly (Senate) yesterday berated its counterparts in the opposition for describing President Muhammadu Buhari as an absentee president.
The Opposition Minority Caucus had converged from both chambers to register their grievances against the ruling party over the derailing ship of State.
The caucus said it had also taken note of the fact that the president has been absent from duty.
They said, “We have not seen our president. We have not heard from our president despite the daily killings that have turned Nigeria into a killing field of unimaginable proportions.”
Addressing the Senate press Corps after their own meeting the Senate leader who is also Chairman Senate APC Caucus, Senator Yahaya Abubakar Abdullahi said they in the APC Caucus totally reject the many incorrect statement contained in the said press release.
“Furthermore, we take exception to the unfortunate charge that our President has not been seen. This is false and cheap politics.
“The President and service – chiefs are meticulously busy every day and every night in deliberations with a view to addressing the security challenges across the entire country.
“Similarly, Mr. President had always made statement to Nigerians on all major security incidences and assuring Nigerians and indeed the international community that he would continue to do his best in making sure that the security challenges are tackled head-on.”
He assured Nigerians that the President is in charge of government and is discharging his duties conscientiously and patriotically.
“It is a well-known fact that the Federal Government under the PDP refused to invest in the security infrastructure of the country while President under the APC led Government had massively invested in this regard more than any past governments and we are confident that the nation will surmount its current security challenges.
The APC Caucus expressed strong and unreserved supports the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari as he continues to work in addressing the economic, health, social, security and other challenges that beset the nation.
“Indeed, we are quite aware of the role of the opposition in any democracy. However, the statement by the PDP Caucus has gone too far given the good working relationship in the 9th Assembly and especially with the Minority Caucus. “
He said, in any democracy, the rights to present criticisms and concerns on the state of the nation’s affairs are unassailable.
However, he said while they respect such rights that come with obligation and responsibility, they are concerned that the statement issued by the Minority Cuscus is capable of over- heating an already charged polity in which men of good conscience and patriotism are expected to act as leaders and Statesmen.
“While we acknowledge the natural disposition of playing politics, we are worried and disturbed that our colleagues are playing with lives.
“The unfortunate state of insecurity; for which the Senate has continuously debated and issued resolutions to support the actions of the executive under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari in the overriding interest of the public, is too delicate to play with.
Unlike the minority Caucus meeting which carried along the House of Representatives members in their fold, only majority caucus of the Senate attended the meeting
Like their Minority Caucus the majority also refused to field questions from the media after their press briefing.
The Minority Caucus had indicated that it was taking note and will continue to take note of the constitutional breaches that are happening at this time by President Muhammadu Buhari.
We are keeping records of constitutional breaches by absentee Buhari-NASS Minority caucus
We keeping records of constitutional breaches by absentee Buhari–NASS Minority Caucus
The Minority Caucus of the National Assembly has indicated that it is taking note and will continue to take note of the constitutional breaches that is happening at this time by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The caucus, after a closed-door emergency meeting on Tuesday, declared President Muhammadu Buhari absent from duty despite the killings and kidnappings across the country.
It said at the appropriate time, it utilize all constitutional methods and measures available after consultations with other colleagues to do the needful to safe the country from collapse.
“The caucus has also taken note of the fact that the president is absent from duty. We have not seen our president. We have not heard from our president despite the daily killings that have turned Nigeria into a killing field of unimaginable proportions.”
It condemned what it called the “ineptitude and inability” of the APC-led federal government to prevent the country from drifting apart.
It said rather than solving the security problems he met on ground as promised, the situation has grown worse under the APC to the extent that every section of the country is now beset with one security challenge or the other.
The caucus leader and Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who briefed newsmen after the meeting said,
“We, therefore as a caucus, suggest that immediate steps should be taken by governments at all levels to set up proper security infrastructure whether in the mode of state police and other constitutional reforms to arrest the drift of the nation,” he said.
He urged President Buhari to take charge of his government and take the country out of the current security situation.
Abaribe also urged Nigerians not lose hope in the country, but do everything possible to get rid of APC in 2023.
He said: “The caucus also expresses strong reservations about the economic strategy of the government which has culminated into what is called quantitative easing, which the ordinary man knows as printing money.
“We feel that this strategy has led us to the very high inflation that we have today, devaluation of our Naira to the height that we never expected and has also concomitantly brought out unemployment and has led the government to contemplate, as we see today, to raise the price of fuel, electricity tariff and all manners of charges on the helpless Nigerians.
“We think that the government should reverse itself and should not continue in its mindless borrowing without seeing any benefits that are coming from it.
“We also, as a caucus, want to put on notice to all Nigerians and the international community about the threats to the lives of our members, to those who come out to say things that are true about the state of Nigeria today, and this threats have come in various forms, including threat to life.
“So, we condemn this attempt at holding everybody down and trying to shut us up and make sure that nobody says because they think by doing so, problems of the country will disappear. We say that problems of the country will not disappear.
“This is a time that needs the president to come out and take charge of his government and take us all away from problems we are seeing today.”
Insecurity; There will be no election In 2023- Niger APC Chieftain
Insecurity; There will be no election In 2023- Niger APC Chieftain
*** Says The Country Is Under siege
Former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, in Niger state, Jonathan Vatsa has said that unless the current security situation in the country is addressed, Nigerians should not expected any election in 2023
He however pointed out that if the government decides to go ahead with elections despite the worsening security challenges across the country, such elections can never be credible.
Vatsa in a statement in Minna on Sunday titled “As the nation bleeds, can Nigerians have a credible elections in 2023” expressed worries that the entire country is overwhelmed by one form of insecurity or the other with the attendant lose of lives and the government seems to be without idea.
“No part of this country today is safe, people are being killed like flies. They have abandoned their ancestral home for fear and have no hope of returning soon”.
Vatsa, a former publicity secretary of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in Niger state believed that until the security problem is addressed and peace returned to towns and villages, any attempt to conduct election in 2023 under the present situation will amount to deceit.
According to him, “Nigerians will know that such elections will never be credible. It will amount to sitting in one place and writing results and the people will definitely resist such manipulations.
“But the truth is that this government can not afford not to conduct credible elections in 2023 because without free, fair and credible elections APC wouldn’t have been in power today. If for nothing, we must give Nigerians credible election devoid of any deceit and foul play”.
Vatsa who is the Coordinator public affairs to governor Sani Bello, maintained that Niger state is one state that no credible election can be conducted without addressing the issue of Banditry which has brought the state to its kneel, stressing that “right now six or seven out of the 25 local government areas of the state are under siege from bandits.
“So which credible election will you conduct in such local government areas without addressing the security challenges there, it is not possible. Today there are over 20,000 Internally Displaced People (IDP) across these local government areas.
“The state is overwhelmed with this situation and nobody is listening to the governor. So if you want to conduct election in these affected communities where are the voters”, he queried.
He therefore urged President Buhari to act fast “because the masses who voted for him in 2015 and 2019 can no longer sleep in their houses, they can no longer go to their farms. The country is bleeding and the poor people are most affected”, he submitted
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