The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has prayed a Federal High Court in Abuja to set aside its July 6 order directing parties in a suit by Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West), to maintain status quo pending the determination of the plaintiff’s motion on notice.
INEC also urged the court to discard Melaye’s motion on notice for interlocutory injunction and proceed to promptly determine the substantive case on the grounds that time was of the essence.
INEC contended that it has 90 days under Section 69 of the Constitution, within which to conduct a referendum for Melaye’s recall, having received a petition from the senator’s district to that effect.
It claimed that it will do no one any good for the court to waste its precious time considering Melaye’s motion on notice for interlocutory injunction when it could safely proceed to hear and determine Melaye’s main case filed on June 23, 2017.
INEC’s said these in three separate documents it filed on July 14, which were brought to the court’s attention yesterday.
The documents include a summons for accelerated hearing of the case; motion on notice for and order setting aside the order made on June 6 and defendant’s counter-affidavit against the plaintiff’s originating summons filed on June 23, 2017.
INEC said the order made in its absence has served the sole purpose of preventing it from performing its constitutional responsibilities.
It said it had planned to make public its report of the verification on August 19.
INEC accused Melaye of misrepresenting facts and suppressing material facts in allegedly misleading the court to grant the ex-parte order.
It added: “Since the ex-parte interim order of injunction to maintain status quo was served on the defendant/applicant (INEC)on July 10, 2017, the order has hindered the defendant from further action on the recall process notwithstanding the fact that time is of the essence in carrying out its duties.
INEC argued that under Section 69 of the Constitution, it has the duty to process the petition against Melaye and conduct a referendum with 90 day, a duty it believed the court cannot stop under any guise.
It said: “The last day for submission of application by interested observers, last day for submission of names of verification agents for the member sought to be recalled, stakeholders meeting, conduct of verification and declaration of the outcome of verification have been slated to hold on July 31, August 10, 15 and 19.”
Attacking the competence of Melaye’s suit, INEC noted that it was merely predicated on questions bordering on the propriety or otherwise of the petition for his recall by registered voters in his senatorial district.
It added: “The plaintiff has no legal right in the matter of the petition to seek for any order of this court to restrain the defendant from performing its duties. The plaintiff will not be prejudiced if the reliefs sought for in the originating summons is refused and dismissed as the balance of convenience is not in favour of the plaintiff.”
Yesterday, INEC’s lawyer Suleiman Ibrahim informed the court about the three documents filed by his client.
Lawyer to Melaye Nkem Okoro confirmed that he has been served with the documents.
Okoro said the documents were served on him on Tuesday and that he was entitled to seven days under the court’s rules to respond to the three motions.
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