The embattled senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye, on Saturday, survived the attempt to recall him from the Senate as only 5.34 per cent of the total 188,500 signatories to his recall petition were verified in the exercise. Melaye’s victory signalled the humiliation of Governor Yahaya Bello who was believed to be the mastermind of the recall process.
The result of the verification, which was released in the early hours of yesterday in Lokoja by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), showed that 39,285 of the signatories were verified, out of which only 18,762 signatures were genuine. According to the Benue State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. Ukertor Gabriel Moti, who declared the result in Lokoja, the genuine signatories of a dismal 5.34 per cent of the total signatories to the petition fell short of 51 per cent or 98,364 signatures required to oust the lawmaker from the apex legislative assembly.
“The constitutional requirements and 50.1 per cent to effect the recall of Senator Dino Melaye by the petitioners could not be met, consequently and in the light of the above, haven’t failed to meet the constitutional requirements by law, the petition to seeking recall of Senator Dino Melaye is hereby a failure, invalid, ineffective, incompetent and cannot activate the recall of distinguished Senator Dino Melaye,” the REC said.
This was even as the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi, Alhaji Haddy Ametuo, in a statement after the failed recall exercise, sarcastically said that, “some ghosts” initiated the recall process against Senator Melaye. Observers had claimed that the verification significantly failed as a result of fictitious and forged signatures and names of dead persons affixed to the recall petition by its promoters.
Melaye’s recall ordeal started when some electorate in the Kogi West senatorial district, on June 24, 2017, submitted a petition to recall him from the Senate to the headquarters of the INEC in Abuja. It was one Cornelius Olowo who led the petitioners to submit the recall petition, accusing Melaye of poor representation, among other reasons, for the move to carry out the stringent action against their senator.
The INEC’s presiding officer for the verification exercise, Prof. Okente Morthy of the University of Abuja, said that the number of signatures verified fell short of the number required. The presiding officer also presented a statistical breakdown of the results of the verification exercise which held in 552 polling units in seven local government areas in Kogi West senatorial district. Prof. Morthy said that, in Kogi Local Government with 46,727 registered voters and a total number of 24,459 signatures to the petition, only 2,335 were verified out of 2,566 signatures recorded during verification. In Kabba/Bunu Local Government with 59,319 registered voters and 27,910 petitioners, only 2,085 signatures were verified to be genuine out of 2,151 that came out for the exercise.
According to the don, in Ijumu Local Government, with 46,810 registered voters and 24,389 petitioners, 2,664 were verified out of 2,811. Others are Yagba East, 35,329 registered voters, 18,229 petitioners while 3,506 were verified out of 3, 580 recorded at verification.
The INEC noted that at Mopa-Amuro Local Government, with 18,350 and 9,173, signatures, 710 were verified out of the 729 recorded. He noted that violence broke out in six polling units at the Mopa town towards the end of the exercise, saying that the INEC had no option than to nullify the exercise in the affected wards. Morthy said that at Yagba West, which has 35,506 registered voters and 19,444 signatories, only 3,729 petitioners were verified out of the 4,221 that came for the exercise.He further said that in Lokoja Local Government, with 109,105 registered voters and 66,266 petitioners, 3,763 were verified out of the 4,810 recorded during the failed recall exercise.
Speaking from the National Hospital, Abuja, where he has been receiving treatment since last Tuesday, Melaye thanked his constituents for rejecting attempts to recall him from Senate, saying “evil will never triumph”.
He said: “Thank you my people. God bless you all. Thank you for the confidence reposed on me. I will not let you down. I will always stand by the truth and the people at all times. God bless Kogi West,” Melaye said on his Twitter handle. “Every lie has an expiry date.
Forces of evil will never triumph over forces of light. God is with us,” he added. Meanwhile, in a sarcastic tune, the Chairman of the APC in Kogi, Ametuo, blamed the recall attempt on Melaye on “some ghosts” operating in Kogi West. Ametuo, who stated this in a statement issued in Lokoja yesterday, said that he was happy that the efforts ended in futility through the collective will of the people of Kogi West.
The party chairman, who did not hide his support for the lawmaker, said that the outcome of the recall exercise was a signal to what would happen in the area in 2019. He further called on the petitioners and Melaye to forget what had transpired and embrace peace and heed the voice of God, saying that the voice of the people is the voice of God.
Ametuo said: “Melaye, the only senator our party has in Kogi State, won with 94.66 per cent, leaving the remaining 5.34 per cent to the petitioners.
The messages are very clear: that Senator Melaye is the most popular senator ever produced by Kogi West. “No amount of financial inducement and coercion will change the will of the people of Kogi State in future elections.” In a related development, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) commended constituents in Kogi West Senatorial District for frustrating the move to recall Melaye from the Senate.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Lokoja, said that the people of Kogi West where he also comes from had proven that no individual power could be greater than the collective will of the people.