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Why Melaye Recall Failed

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As the dust over the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recall the embattled legislator representing Kogi West in the upper chamber of the National Assembly, Senator Dino Melaye settles, fresh facts have emerged on the factors responsible for the debacle.

The INEC had fixed April 26, 2018 for the recall of the senator after several futile attempts to do so.

But when the exercise finally kicked off penultimate Saturday, it turned out to be a wild goose chase as low turn-out marred the signature verification exercise in the affected local government areas in the senatorial district.

Results announced by INEC at the end of the exercise showed that only 18,742 signatories to the recall petition were verified out of the 189,870 signatories on the petition. The verified signatories fell well below the requirement of the law that 50 per cent and one of the signatories must be verified before the recall process can continue.

This was the principal factor behind the failure to recall Melaye who has been having a running battle with the Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahya Bello since last year. It is on record that there is no love lost between Bello and Melaye. The supremacy contest between the two top Kogi State politicians has left in its trail allegations and counter allegations, threat to life and property, drama, controversy, conflict and confusion.

Data collated by the INEC and obtained by Maritime Bits showed that the outcome of the exercise was miles away from the expectation of Melaye’s opponents and foes within and outside the North Central state which shares common boundary with no fewer than five states.  A breakdown of the result collated by the INEC in the seven local government areas which has 351,146 registered voters is as follows:

Koton Karfe Local Government Area
Total Number of Registered Voters                   –               46, 727
Total Number of Signatures on the Petitions     –               24, 459
Total Number of Signatures at Verification       –               2, 566
Total Number of Signatures Verified                 –               2, 335

Kabba Bunu Local Government Area 
Total Number of Registered Voters                    –               59,319
Total Number of Signatures on the Petitions      –               27,910
Total Number of Signatures at Verification        –              2,151
Total Number of Signatures Verified                  –              2,085

Ijumu Local Government Area
Total Number of Registered Voters                   –              46,810
Total Number of Signatures on the Petition        –       24,389
Total Number of Signatures at Verification         –       2,811
Total Number of Signatures Verified                   –       2,664

Yagba East Local Government Area
Total Number of Registered Voters                 –           35,329
Total Number of Signatures on the Petition     –           18,229
Total Number of Signatures at Verification     –           3,580
Total Number of Signatures Verified               –           3,506

Mopa Amuro Local Government Area
Total Number of Registered Voters                –           18, 350
Total Number of Signatures on the Petition    –           9,173
Total Number of Signatures at Verification    –           729
Total Number of Signatures Verified              –           710

Yagba West Local Government Area 
Total Number of Registered Voters                      –    35, 506
Total Number of Signatures on the Petition          –    19,444
Total Number of Signatures at Verification          –    4,221
Total Number of Signatories Verified                   –    3,729.

Lokoja Local Government Area 
Total Number of Registered Voters                     –     109,105
Total Number of Signatures on the Petition         –     66,266.
Total Number of Signatures at Verification         –     4,810.
Total Number of Signatures Verified                   –     3,763.

Reports gathered by Maritime Bits showed that there was violence in Mopa Amuro towards the end of the exercise as no fewer than six polling units were allegedly affected just as result in six out of the 10 wards in the local government areas were cancelled.

It was also gathered that in Koton Karfe and Lokoja local government areas there was poor turn out though the turnout of petitioners for the verification of signatures was poor.

Besides the poor turn out, sympathy for the embattled senator also worked in his favour as his arrest over alleged gun running and insistence by the authorities that his trial will be in the Kogi State capital, Lokoja rather than the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja where he resides helped in swaying the petitioners in his support.

In spite of the insistence of Bello that he has no hand in the recall process, not a few saw his hands in Melaye’s travails.

Apparently aware of insinuations in some quarters that it was one of the government agencies being used to deal with the senator, the INEC had earlier assured the people that it was only concerned with transparency in the exercise and could not be held responsible for the poor turnout of petitioners.

Speaking through its Federal Commissioner in-charge of Kogi, Kwara and Nasarawa States, Alhaji Mohammed Haruna, the INEC said that its main concern was to ensure transparency in the process.

It insisted that it was neutral in the bid to recall the legislator from the upper chamber of the National Assembly.

“Turnout is not our problem. Turnout is the problem of parties concerned. Ours is to ensure transparency. Nothing untoward will happen. I assure you”, Haruna added.

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