ABUJA – The Abuja Division of Court of Appeal has assumed jurisdiction to determine whether or not the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, should go ahead with the process for the recall of Senator Dino Melaye.
This came as INEC, yesterday, withdrew a motion it filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja to be allowed to serve the embattled senator a copy of the petition seeking his recall, through substituted means.
The electoral body, through its lead counsel, Mr. Yunus Ustaz, SAN, withdrew the ex-parte motion, considering that the appellate court was already seized with the facts of the case.
However, INEC, said it was dissatisfied with the conduct of the lawmaker who it said “dodged” its officials that went to the National Assembly complex to serve him the necessary documents while the Senate was having its plenary session on Tuesday.
At the resumed hearing on the matter, yesterday, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba upheld argument by Melaye’s lawyer, Mr. Nkem Okoro, that the high court could no longer entertain INEC’s motion.
Okoro argued that the high court had become functus-officio in the matter, having already delivered its final verdict on the substantive suit his client filed to abort the recall process.
He, therefore, opposed attempt by INEC lawyer to move the motion ex-parte for substituted service of the processes on his client, maintaining that the high court no longer had jurisdiction to grant any order in respect of the matter.
Justice Dimgba concurred with Melaye’s lawyer, just as he drew attention of INEC’s counsel to Order 6 of the Federal High Court Rules.
He noted that the way the motion was couched presupposed that there was a pending case before the high court.
Justice Dimgba said he could no longer exercise jurisdiction on the ex-parte motion since he had already given judgment on the matter.
He asked the parties to take their case before the appellate court.
Consequently, Ustaz, SAN, withdrew the motion, even as it was struck out by the judge.
Melaye is begging the appellate court to set-aside the high court judgment that allowed INEC to proceed with process for his recall from the Senate.
He had shortly after INEC declared its readiness to kick-start his recall, filed legal action to abort the process.
He prayed the court to stop the electoral body from conducting any referendum predicated on “fictitious petition” that was purportedly submitted to it by his constituents.
He insisted that the petition was invalid and of no effect, alleging that it was signed by fictitious, dead and none existing persons in his senatorial district.
Contending that he was not notified or seved a copy of the petition before INEC commenced the recall process, Melaye, specifically urged the court to determine whether by provisions of Sections 68 and 69 of the Constitution, he is entitled to a fair hearing before the process of his recall as envisaged by the provisions of Section 69 of the Constitution, can be triggered.