ANALYSIS: Dino Melaye: How Recall process works

Dino Melaye
Dino Melaye

A recall is the power of voters to unseat a serving lawmaker before the person’s tenure is up.

The unfolding debacle of Kogi State senator, Dino Melaye, has elicited curiosity amongst Nigerians about one of the most obscured but powerful constitutional instruments in Nigeria’s evolving democratic system.

A recall process that began with a few people queuing to etch their signatures in what initially seemed an ill-fated exercise on June 10, has now morphed into arguably the most keenly-watched political phenomenon three weeks later.

On June 22, the Independent National Electoral Commission served a notice of recall proceedings on Mr. Melaye, ushering in the newest recall exercise in the country.

On July 3, the electoral umpire unveiled a timetable of five critical dates for the recall process. The process continued despite Mr. Melaye’s attempts to block it from the court.

Although the provisions for recall are enumerated in the Constitution, ostensibly as tools for accountability, they are rarely tested by the electorate.

While there have been a few recall efforts in the past, no member of the parliament at the local or federal level has ever been recalled.

On August 28, 2005, a recall referendum conducted by INEC in Plateau State was unsuccessful as the incumbent retained his seat with 74 percent of the votes.

Simon Lalong, then Speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly, had reportedly secured a court injunction against his recall, but INEC, under Maurice Iwu, went ahead with the exercise, anyway.

This gives Mr. Melaye hope that the outcome of a referendum, if conducted against him, might not end his mandate; but does not mean the process is, by any means, easy.

Mr. Melaye apparently had this in mind when he first declared his recall process an exercise in futility a day after it began.

“He is shooting the moon and boxing the wind,” the senator said of Governor Yahaya Bello, his political rival whom he strongly believes is financing the recall campaign.

In a display of solidarity, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, assured his embattled colleague that his seat will remain intact.

“The recall process is dead on arrival going by the Constitution,” Mr. Ekweremadu said at the plenary Tuesday. “It’s a long process, after the verification of votes.”

Legality of the process…

Since there’s no constitutional question about whether a lawmaker could be recalled or not, PREMIUM TIMES has decided to examine the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act as they apply to a recall exercise.

Practically, the procedures that apply to the recall of federal lawmakers are the same as those for members of a House of Assembly at the state level.

But Section 69 of the Constitution addressed recall for senators and members of the House of Representatives only, while another section dealt with a state-level recall. The process does not apply to elected executives, those can only be impeached.

The process…

From Section 69 of the Constitution:

A member of the Senate or of the House 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

(b) the petition is thereafter, in a referendum conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission within ninety days of the date of receipt of the petition, approved by a simple majority of the votes of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency.

Section 116 of the Electoral Act also dictated the same thing.

In Kogi, Mr. Melaye’s opponents said they’ve collated about 188, 588 signatures to recall him from Senate.

The number represents roughly 52.3 percent of 360,098 registered voters, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.
The campaigners also said they ensured that all voters who signed the recall petition attached their respective voter’s cards to the document for proper and easier verification by electoral officers.

The Electoral Act advises that petitioners list offences against a target, but Mr. Melaye’s public image as perhaps the most controversial lawmaker in the Eighth Assembly makes it easy for his opponents to pin as many offences against him as they deem necessary.

Since INEC has announced some key dates in the exercise, it is no longer a question of whether the recall process would be exhausted but if Mr. Melaye can survive it.

Next, INEC will verify that all the signatures are accurate and constitute more than a half of the electorate in his Kogi West Senatorial District as asserted by the petitioners.

The Constitution and the Electoral Act require only a simple majority (51 percent) of ‘Yes’ votes in the referendum that will be conducted after —amongst other tasks— authentication of submitted signatures.

This may likely be the most difficult stage for officials, especially as Mr. Melaye has said the collated signatures were fictitious in his prayers before the court.

But if INEC could weather the legal, political and other storms and successfully verify the signatures, the referendum is expected to be conducted by the open secret ballot system.

Once the recall process has been completed and results announced, INEC will pass instruction based on the will of the majority in Mr. Melaye’s constituency to the Senate President, in this case, Bukola Saraki, for immediate action.

This will be in accordance with Section 68 (h) of the Constitution:

“The President of the Senate or, as the case may be, the Speaker of the House of Representatives receives a certificate under the hand of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission stating that the provisions of section 69 of this Constitution have been complied with in respect of the recall of that member.”

That section, as stated, does not require the consent of the presiding officers of the National Assembly for the recall but only seeks to inform them of the outcome, contrary to the claim of Mr. Ekweremadu that “The Senate would also verify the legitimacy of the votes before a conclusion is made.”

If Mr. Melaye’s recall succeeds, INEC will conduct a by-election in his constituency.

Although the Constitution and the Electoral Act did not say if a recalled individual could still participate in a bye-election arising from such recall, legal experts say the situation is not that complicated.

Liborous Oshoma, a Lagos-based legal practitioner, said Mr. Melaye can contest if his party nominates him.

He cited the case of Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, who was elected as governor in October 2014, exactly eight years after he was impeached by the House of Assembly in October 2006.

When Mr. Fayose’s 2014 victory was challenged on the basis of his past impeachment, the Supreme Court held that the governor has the constitutional right to stand election because he was not indicted or convicted by any court.

“A recall is neither an indictment nor a conviction,” Mr. Oshoma said. “It’s only a vote of no confidence passed on an elected official by constituents.”

No matter how the process ends, all lawmakers, state and federal, have been put on notice, once again, that their mandate is dependent on voters — and thus they should discharge their duties accordingly.


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  • KLARION KALL

    “Democracy is defined as a government
    of the people, by the people and for the people, but what we had in
    the time of Jonathan was ‘greedocracy’ – which is government of the greedy,
    by the greedy and for the greedy. Today, under Muhamadu Buhari, we have
    criminocracy’ – a government of the criminals, by the criminals and for the
    criminals. Wrong appointment led to the emergence of the former Secretary
    to the Government of the Federation (SGF, Babachir Lawal) who became
    a grass-cutter”.

    ………………APC Senator Dino Melaye

    (June 1st, 2017)

  • Uncle Benedict

    Premium Times Editor,

    Bukola Saraki and Dino Melaye are goose and gander

    I like this thing you people wrote here. It is a very good report. But I didn’t see something there.
    There is no difference between BUKOLA SARAKI and DINO MELAYE They are just like twins.
    They behave the same way, they talk the same way, and they think the same way,
    like illiterates, and even they do everything together, as if they have the same
    type of poor or no home training at all.

    Since these two people are like twins, and they are behaving the same way like garage touts or hooligans,
    why do we need to do RECALL two times for each of them? It doesn’t make sense. It is a waste of money.
    Better to do DOCTRINE OF NECESSITY right now and put the two thugs on the same RECALL paper,
    to save Nigeria the money of expenses.

    Nigeria is inside bad economic recession now. We cannot afford to be wasting money to get rid of senseless
    human beings. We can join Bukola Saraki together with Dino Melaye on one single RECALL BALLOT and
    get rid of both of them at once. I hope the government will look at what I am saying here in high wisdom
    and in the national interest, to save taxpayers money on just two useless human beings.

    • Historeey

      @Klarion Kall,

      One can only hope
      that Nigeria will quickly learn its lesson from Libya; that in a revolutionary
      situation like today – where the government itself is seen as the economic
      threat to the pursuit of happiness, the army cannot be neutral, otherwise,
      revolutionary militias will take the army’s neutrality to mean the army’s
      support for this wretched status quo of living by plunder and bribes.

      Already the signs are that
      Nigeria is badly imploding in the same way as Libya today. The Nigerian
      populace perceive that the army is unconcerned about the genocidal
      thefts going on in Nigeria today and that the army does not fulfill its given
      constitutional duty to fully assist the people; the civilians – as opposed to
      complicit civilian authorities in government – to maintain law and order by
      rolling out the tanks against a slew of these corrupt government officials,
      to constitutionally safeguard Nigeria’s internal security.

      • 360 degrees

        @disqus_qjvnqdDXoX:disqus

        HOW DID DINO MELAYE EMERGE AS A SENATOR IN NIGERIA IF APC PARTY HAS ANY SENSE?

        WHAT IS THE MAIN PURPOSE OF HAVING APC PARTY EXECUTIVES THAN TO VET ASPIRANTS?

    • James Ehiri

      @disqus_rQTB1xzl0A:disqus

      The people of Kogi West have a date with history. They will either fulfil it or defeat it. They were the ones
      who made the first blunder of voting for public nuisance as representative and now they owe the duty
      to recall Dino Melaye and correct their own blunders. It is easier to sign a petition for recall than to
      troop out en masse on voting day and vote for recall. Nobody else can do the duty for Kogi West,
      except the registered voters there themselves. Massive public campaign must start at once.

  • persona

    PT has done the right thing examining the constitution and the electoral act. They have also made it clear that the DSP is “stark” as Fashola called them. The DSP in his warped mind thinks that the good people of Kogi will have to be subjected to a fanfare wherein they are made to cast votes before a man who has led to the state of recall will be judge in his own case.
    This is where I expect Nigerians to galvanize to ensure that true leadership is made to be accountable. If NASS members and state house of assembly men can easily wield impeachment on the executive wing, why then does the DSP and other senators believe that thy cant be likewise removed from office? The restructuring they all have been calling for may just may be that Nigerians need to wake up from their slumber and make leaders accountable.

  • Apostel

    This is a good way to pursue criminal and corrupt politicians and to chase them to the devil.
    Kogi people, be watchful and resistant; You have a chance to write history.

    • James Ojapa

      Dont worry. Kogi always writes history afterall were we not the first state to produce a governor who inherited votes in an election where he did not contest and did not vote?

      • Apostel

        I know, they even wrote history in cultural killings. To remember, complete bus crews including passengers disappeared in Kogi State; of which, until now, not even the bones have been found. Yes that’s Kogi as well, they are good in writing histories.

  • AryLoyds

    Nigeria is indeed an animal Kingdom. The same guy that claimed he finished from Harvard is still in the senate making noise. What a Zoo!

  • Oil_Spillage

    Oil spillage is killing Niger Delta people and the Nigerian government does not care. The clean up exercise publicized by APC govt months ago has not begun. Our people ( Niger Delta nation) continue to suffer and bear the burden of the environmental impact of oil exploration – Polluted rivers, air, and land. Our farmers can neither cultivate nor Fishermen fish. There is not even clean water to drink. Whereas, monies from this communities pay Nigerian Senators (e.g., Ex-Governor of Yobe State, the shameless and undesirable Abbah Bukar Ibrahim) who spend all their time in hotels with prostitutes.

    How long can we allow Nigeria to rape us (Niger Delta) and get away with it?

    • oyoko

      na now yor eye open. wen na “our own” was in Govt for 6 yrs you turn blind eye to this spillage. you were all deep in grabbing from nigeria treasury thinking that e no go finish one day. now u are back to square one!

    • kinsly

      What concerns the article with Oil spillage? Or your brain has spilled away too?

  • Arabakpura

    Thank you Premium Times for educating some of those Saraki Assembly men who received Ph.D in illiteracy and are proud to openly espouse it!

  • Ade Omowest

    Jankara lawyer Senator Ike Ekweremadu is misinterpreting the constitution to make his friend Dino Melaye happy. When we get to the critical stages of voting and the result is sent to the Senate President for information ONLY, then we shall await the Senate Leadership action/inaction.

  • Adeloye Adedugbe

    The almighty God will make this recall to work we are fed up with Melaye and his cohorts in the senate any longer.

  • Fernando Luis

    I don’t know why some unreasonable stinking APC coward supporters will always waste their time commenting on something that can never happen. They should know Dino will end up completing his tenure. Governor Bello have failed. Even though the brainwashed APC supporters knew Bello have manipulated the recall signatures. Make Una wake up. Bet me Dino will not be recalled and nothing go happen.

    • Rote

      Dino is not a god, and his seat in Senate was occupied by someone before him. Power belongs to God, let no man say with all finality I will do this or undo that tomorrow. If he is your benefactor just pray for God’s mercy. Those whom he has offended with his diarrhea of the mouth also have God.

    • Abu Saleh

      Y r u insulting urself? Stop insulting urself.

  • MilitaryPolice01

    Although the Constitution and the Electoral Act did not say if a recalled individual could still participate in a bye-election arising from such recall, legal experts say the situation is not that complicated.
    ——————————————————
    Whether it is legally permissible or not, It will amount to wasting the time of his constituents, scarce resources and money if the same person for which a lengthy recall/referendum was conducted was allowed to re-contest and probably win again (considering the Nigerian factors). It will have made a mockery of the whole process. It might be allowed by law but we must not be slaves to the law. The law is meant to regulate and guide and not to enslave or allow shows of buffoonery.

    Nigerians are looking to INEC, this is a big test for them. They must not stand in the way of Nigerians in ridding the Senate of this embarrassing liability.

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  • Truth Konveyor

    I am saddened by the arrogance of these legislooters cum senators, as shamefully represented by Ekweremmadu, arrogating to themselves power of life and death. What a petulance! They treat voters with total scorn and believe they can scuttle people’s wish when the decision comes to their table. In making such irresponsible statement the senator exhibited crass ignorance of the constitutional provisions. The Senate has no contribution in determining the fate of a recalled member. INEC is only required to inform the Senate President for only the purpose of knowing that the affected senator has ceased to be a senator and should, therefore, be prevented from accessing the Senate. That’s all.

  • absam777

    Ekweremadu is a very fraudulent man. He always interpret the law as he likes it. He must been a charge and bail lawyer when he was practising.