The past few weeks as been rather tough and challenging one for the Kogi West Senator Dino Melaye. He has been limping from one accusation to another, especially in the hands of Nigeria Police force. Amidst this turbulent time, comes a glimpse of victory. The ongoing recall process seem to have hit a brick wall especially after the INEC release the result of the signatories as only 5.34 per cent of the total 188,500 signatories to his recall petition were verified in an exercise held on Saturday.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the result of the verification showed that 39,285 of the signatories were verified, out of which only 18,762 signatures were genuine.
The genuine signatories represent a dismal 5.34 per cent of the total signatories to the petition, which fell short of 51 per cent or 98,364 signatures required for the petition to sail through.
It was observed that the verification failed largely due to fictitious and forged signatures and names of dead persons affixed to the recall petition by its promoters.
Some electorate in the Kogi West, on June 24, 2017, submitted a petition to recall Melaye to the headquarters of the INEC in Abuja.
One Mr. Cornelius Olowo led the petitioners to submit the recall petition which alleged poor representation as one of the reasons for the move to recall Melaye.
However, the INEC’s presiding officer for the verification exercise, Prof. Okente Morthy of the University of Abuja, said the number of signatures verified fell short of the number required.
Morthy who spoke yesterday in Lokoja gave the breakdown of the results of the verification exercise which took place in 552 polling units in seven local government areas in Kogi West.
According to him, 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. He added that at 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.
Also at Ijumu Local Government, with 46, 810 registered voters and 24, 389 petitioners , 2,664 were verified out of 2, 811, the returning officer announced.
According to Morthy, others are Yagba East, 35, 329 registered voters, 18, 229 petitioners and 3,506 were verified out of 3, 580 recorded at verification.
At Mopa-Amuro Local Government with 18, 350 and 9, 173, signatures, 710 were verified out of the 729 recorded
However, the Returning Officer said there was violence in six polling units at the Mopa town towards the end of the exercise, forcing the INEC to nullify the exercise in the affected wards.
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 turned up, the returning officer stated.
In Lokoja Local Government with 109,105 registered voters and 66,266 petitioners, INEC said 3,763 were verified out of the 4, 810 recorded during the botched verification exercise.
Kogi State Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) Alhaji Haddy Ametuo said “some ghosts” initiated the recall process against Senator Dino Melaye.
Ametuo, who stated this in a statement issued in Lokoja yesterday on the botched recall process, expressed delight that the efforts had come to a premature end through the collective will of the people of Kogi West Senatorial District.
“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,” the statement said.
Melaye, however, thanked the people of his constituency for “rising to his defence” by shunning the verification exercise.
The senator, in a statement issued in Lokoja yesterday, also thanked the political leaders, elders and traditional rulers in Kogi West for “rescuing him from his political enemies.”
He also expressed gratitude to the media, observers, civil society groups, security agents and other stakeholders “for resisting to be used against the wishes of the people of his constituency”.
The statement was signed by Mr. Gideon Ayodele, Special Assistant on Media to Melaye.
The Kogi State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) called for the acceleration of the proposed bill for the establishment of the Election Offences Petition Tribunal.
The call is coming on the heels of the wide disparity between the purported signatories to the recall petition against Melaye.
PDP Publicity Secretary in Kogi State Bode Ogunmola, in a reaction to the development yesterday in Lokoja, called for the arrest and prosecution of the principal actors of the recall petition.
He warned that the issue must not be glossed over nor swept under the carpet.
His words: “These jokes have been taken too far… Call in the accountants or auditors; let them determine how much of Kogi resources have been expanded on this so-called recall exercise.
“Yes, it is an APC and APC thing, but as major stakeholders, we will not stand by and watch while Kogi continue to regress into ignominy.
“At a time workers’ salaries go unpaid, and suffering mounting across the state, these are the sort of things that the Yahaya Bello administration can boast of contriving.” Condemning the exercise, a PDP chieftain in Kabba, Chief Ayodele Okono, vowed that no one can recall Melaye, adding that he has more than anyone else, brought development to Kogi West.