Reports and insinuations in the formal and informal media platforms
suggesting that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC was
intimidated to halt the recall process of Senator Dino Melaye of Kogi West
Senatorial District have been debunked by relevant INEC authorities.
Reports and commentaries especially in the social media had it that the
threat by the Senate to probe the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND
where current INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu headed as Executive
Secretary prompted the halt to Melaye’s recall process. According to the
reports, Professor Yakubu may have done wrong there.
However, top INEC officials have insisted that there was no such nexus
between whatever action the lawmakers intend for TETFUND and the
Commission’s decision to put a hold on Melaye’s recall process.
Referring to its recent press statements on the Kogi West issue, the
officials said since the Senator’s recall process started, INEC has not
had any cause to veer off its mandate as underscored in relevant laws
guiding its activities.
One national officer of the Commission said “all INEC did was to obey the
Court order restraining the Commission from going further with the
process. But you must note that we have gone to Court to appeal the order;
to get it vacated ahead the September 29 date fixed by the High Court for
the motion on notice.
“Also, INEC has petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria on the High Court
order on a strictly constitutional matter which if not addressed could set
a dangerous precedent that could derail the country’s democracy beginning
with the general elections already scheduled.”
By section 69 of the Constitution, INEC has a 90-day limit from the date
of recall petition presentation, June 21,2017 in this case, to complete
Another INEC Commissioner explained further: “the Chief Justice needs to
address the matter promptly. If not, somebody or people could come up one
day to ask a Court to put aside the 2019 General and Presidential
Elections Time Table already announced by INEC. When that happens, you can
imagine the monumental distortion it will create in the 2019 elections
It could be recalled that the Commission had on Thursday, March 10, this
year fixed February 16, 2019 for the next Presidential and National
Assembly polls with Governorship and State Assembly elections scheduled
for March 2, 2019.
Stressing that these are all indications of determination of INEC to
prosecute its constitutional mandate, a recently appointed national
commissioner said what INEC did by scheduling the 2019 polls two years
ahead was to land Nigeria’s democratic process in the same league with
other democracies in the world.
“It happens in countries like the USA that we all wish to emulate.
Switzerland and Norway do same. Even nearby Ghana has adopted it too,” he
The official recalled: “I have always admired the courage of the Chairman
on the job before I was appointed as a commissioner here. I remember
reading in some newspapers quoting him declaring that nobody can
intimidate him and INEC in the prosecution of their duties. That speaks
much of the character and person of the Chairman. Don’t forget too that he
has made INEC to continue to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders even
as he has kept faith with Nigeria’s democratic growth which is expected of
a courageous chief executive.
“For instance, the Chairman did not waste time in dealing with the 202
INEC staff indicted by EFCC for misconduct during the 2015 elections. You
are also aware of the Commission’s decision on the staff allegedly
involved in the Kogi double registration saga. Certainly, that does not
look like a man who can be intimidated,” he further said.
Chairman of Abuja-based League of Democracy Watchdogs, LDW, Omeresan
Olayinka in his Wuse office wondered why people are quick to “interprete
negativity into every good thing in this country.”
Olayinka continued: “from what I know of this INEC under Prof. Yakubu, it
has been very proactive and determined to do its work according to the
laws establishing and guiding its mandate.
“I learnt the Chairman was not even in the country when the relevant
committee met and resolved to suspend the Kogi West recall process in
deference to the Court order. And the measures the Commission has taken to
lift that order must be commended.
“Insinuation linking that decision to the resolution of the Senate to
probe whatever they suspect at TETFUND, is neither here nor there. I don’t
see any connection there. Anything closest to that is a mere coincidence.
If not why is INEC moving to lift the order? And why has INEC petitioned
the CJN for protection of its mandate constitutionally guide our