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The Independent National Electoral Commission has received signatures from the electorate in Kogi West Senatorial District, asking for the recall of Senator Dino Melaye from the Senate.
Six bags, which contained the signatures of 52.3 per cent of the electorate from the senatorial district and other petitions, were submitted to INEC in Abuja on Wednesday.
Kogi West, which Melaye represents in the Senate, has seven local governments.
Signatures and petitions from each of the local government areas were packaged in each of the bags, which were tagged according to the names of the local governments.
The local governments and the percentage of voters who signed the recall petition showed that Yagba West had the highest number of voters asking Melaye to return home from the Senate.
The breakdown, as shown in the petition is: Yagba West, 55.7 per cent; Lokoja, 54.8 per cent ; Kogi, 52.77 per cent; Yagba East, 52 per cent; Ijumu (Melaye’s local government), 51.8 per cent; Mopa/Moro, 50.4 per cent and Kabba/Bunu, 46.7 per cent.
A prominent member of the All Progressives Congress in Ijumu, Mr. Cornelius Olowo, who led the delegation, insisted that the constituents were not satisfied with the quality of Melaye’s representation.
He said, “We want Senator Melaye back because of poor representation, he is also not accessible to us, he is unreachable and has no constituency projects.
“Apart from the fact that he has never called any town hall meeting, there has been a major gap between the senator and the people he claims to represent.”
He insisted that the state Governor, Yahaya Bello, was not the sponsor of the petition against Melaye, who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory.
Olowo said, “We don’t need to lobby or allow anyone to lobby us. The governor and the senator are not from the same senatorial district. We believe that the Senate ought to be a place for people who can be trusted. We have stomached his excesses for more than two years now. We can’t continue anymore.
“We were the ones that mobilised the voters and we did this for some days. Melaye was a pillar among those who installed the governor and was also the one who nominated the present Secretary to the State Government.”
The Director of Publicity and Voter Education at the commission, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, was not available to react to the submission of the petition.
However, he had earlier told one of our correspondents that the commission would conduct a referendum on the plan to recall Melaye if the senator’s constituents could get 50 per cent of voters in the senatorial district.
Section 69 of the Constitution stipulates how to recall senators from the Senate.
It states that “(1) A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives may be recalled if –
“(a) there is presented to the Chairman of the INEC 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 INEC within 90 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.”
Reacting, Melaye described his recall process as a hoax. According to him, many appointees of the Kogi State Government would go to jail for forgery.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the lawmaker noted that his recall would not lead to the payment of workers’ 15 months’ salary arrears in the state.
The post read, “It cannot succeed. It is a hoax and absolute comedy of errors. I’m laughing at the stupidity of the Kogi State Government. Many appointees will go to jail for forgery. Even dead people’s names (are) on the recall register. A governor who does not know what double registration is may not as well know the procedure for recall. Every lie has an expiry date. This comedy of errors will soon end. No shaking at all. This won’t solve the problem of not paying salaries for over 15 months. No retreat, no surrender. Truth is my only defence.”