The Independent National Electoral Commission has sent a petition to the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria over the order of an Abuja Federal High Court restraining it from continuing with the recall process on the Senator representing the Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye.
The court asked INEC to maintain status quo pending the determination of the motion on notice filed by the Counsel to Melaye, Chief Mike Ozekhome, (SAN).
A National Commissioner of INEC, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, who explained this in a statement on Saturday, added that the commission drew the CJN’s attention to the order to check a precedent that could prevent the commission from carrying out its responsibility in future.
Ibeanu said if the current order was allowed, it could put the commission in a dangerous position to pursue a similar process in future as the person involved could also approach the court to frustrate the process.
Ibeanu said the commission halted the recall process so that it would not disobey valid court orders.
He said, “Deeply concerned by this situation, the commission at its weekly meeting held on July 13, 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.
“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.”
He denied media reports that the commission halted the recall process as a result of the decision of the Senate to probe the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, where the INEC Chairman, Mahmud Yakubu, was executive Secretary between 2007 and 2012.
Ibeanu described the reports linking the suspension of the recall process to the Senate decision to probe contract scam in TETFUND as “totally incorrect and mischievous.”