By Nathaniel Gana
Senator Dino Melaye’s refusal to be served with the petition to recall him as ordered by the Federal High court despite six attempts, has prevented the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from proceeding with the process.
According to a statement issued on 3rd October and signed by Prince Adedeji Soyebi, a National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), the Commission could not issue the Notice for Verification on 3rd October as contained in the court-ordered amended Timetable and Schedule of Activities as a result of this development.
Senator Melaye had filed a suit at the Federal High Court to stop the Commission from proceeding with the recall process. But in its judgment, the Court dismissed the Senator’s action while also ordering the Commission to serve him personally with the petition and its accompanying documents at least two weeks to the commencement of the exercise, to enable him prepare adequately for the verification.
“But all attempts to serve the Senator have been futile as he has made himself unavailable,” Prince Soyebi said. “The Bailiff of the High Court, accompanied by INEC officials have visited the office of the Senator at the National Assembly and his residence on six occasions but found the office locked, while they were not able to gain access to him at his residence. On resumption of the Senate after its recess, the Senator refused to accept service of the documents. This was in the presence of several journalists and was widely reported.”
Prince Soyebi further explained that the Commission went back to court to ask for substituted service, but the court further directed that the Commission should make further attempts to serve Senator. When this failed again, he noted, the Commission returned to Court to pursue the request for substituted service, which however declined jurisdiction as the appeal by the Senator had been entered in the Court of Appeal.
He added: “As a result of Senator Dino Melaye’s refusal to accept service of the petition, the Commission has not been able to proceed with the process as earlier scheduled, as service has become a condition precedent to continuing with the exercise. It has therefore decided that in line with its usual practice and in deference to the rule of law, it will await the outcome of the decision of the appeal filed by the Senator.”
He affirmed: “INEC does not have any interest whatsoever in the outcome of the Kogi West petition for recall. Its interest is limited to ensuring all electoral activities are undertaken in line with due process and without fear or favour.”
The Commission reiterated its determination to faithfully discharge its duties and responsibilities according to the Constitution, Electoral Law and interpretations given by the courts.