Some Lagos-based lawyers, on Thursday, described the agitation to recall Sen. Dino Melaye, representing the Kogi-West Senatorial District in the Senate, as a constitutional move available to his constituents.
The lawyers said that the right to recall a lawmaker was one of the avenues available for deepening the nation’s democratic space.
Melaye is a senator and a member of the 8th National Assembly, representing Kogi West Senatorial District.
A recall is a voting process through which the electorate removes a validly elected senator from his/her seat in the Senate.
NAN recalls that the Kogi-West Senatorial District had recently submitted a petition to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) demanding the recall of Melaye.
A political leader, Chief Cornelius Olowo, said that the electorate in Melaye’s constituency were resolved to recall him, based on his alleged “abysmal performance’’ since he was elected to represent the district in 2015.
Olowo accused the senator of distancing himself from his constituents and making a low performance.
He added that that the petition had the signatures of more than 52 per cent of the electorate in the area.
Reacting to the move, a constitutional lawyer, Mr Ogedi Ogu, said the position of the constituents was constitutional because a recall is provided for in Section 69 of the 1999 constitution.
“Although the process sounds alien, yet, it is constitutional; it is a right embedded in constituents to hire and fire any erring legislator.
“What impeachment is to the legislature is simply what a recall is to the electorate in a given democracy.
“So, such agitation is constitutional and if the grounds upon which the recall is being sought are true, then it is practically one of the ways of deepening the nation’s democracy,’’ Ogu said.
He noted that if the process was successful, then the steps by the Kogi State electorate would go a long way in serving as a reference point and a search methodology, as an enrichment of our democratic culture.
Mr. Spurgeon Ataene corroborated the views of Ogu, affirming the constitutionality of the recall process.
Ataene said: “If activated through the due process, a recall clause will check impunity recklessly displayed by some political office holders.
“In fact, it will make the lawmakers more accountable to their constituents.
“However, it will be irresponsible for a few persons to sit down and conjure names to vilify or witch-hunt an opponent.
“In the event that Sen. Dino Melaye is right after thorough investigations, then I am of the view that those involved should be prosecuted,’’ Ataene told NAN.
A rights activist, Mr. Emenike Nnoromlele, also described the move as being in accordance with the law.
“The recall process is cumbersome as it sounds too impossible to be achieved, but that does not mean the electorate, if so determined, cannot surmount it.
“The right which the people are exercising now is simply the same as that which they did at the time of electing the senator.
“The only difference is that now, they are simply asking him to return on the ground, that they have lost confidence in his ability to carry on.
“They hired him or her and now, they are opting to fire,’’ Nnoromlele said.
He, however, stressed the need for agitators to be cautious in their approach and ensure that the allegations are well founded. (NAN)