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Published On: Mon, May 14th, 2018

Untold story of botched Melaye’s recall

 . Why it failed and those behind the desperate move to nail him

Adebayo Obajemu takes a postmortem of the abortive attempt to recall embattled Senator Dino Melaye and those behind the determined attempt to stop him politically

 The cavalier attempt to recall Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West Senatorial District not only crumbled like a proverbial cookie, but the move itself has all the trappings of a melodrama and comedy of error. It was a fatal error from the start given the reputation and persona of the person alleged to be behind the controversial recall; it was doomed from the start.

It was gathered that unknown to the governor, Yahaya Bello, who was reportedly unpopular in the state, the political, business and intellectual elites from Kogi West both within and outside the state had resolved to give the him a test of what to expect in the next gubernatorial poll by rallying round not only to save Melaye but to disgrace the governor, by showing him the limits of what money and incumbency can do. They decided on ways to actualize their plans.

The attempt flopped following a low turn-out for the verification of signatures of petitioners. Results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC at the end of the exercise showed that only 18,742 or five percent of signatories to the recall petition made themselves available for verification out of the 189,870 signatories on the petition. Verified signatories were below the requirement of the law that 51 percent of the signatories must be verified before the recall process can continue to the next stage.

Many who had no knowledge of the complexity of  Kogi politics thought that incarceration of the senator in the hospital, coupled with his running battle with the police will make his recall easy, but it was not so. Not only did he survive, he did so with a large margin as only five percent of the signatures were actually verified.

Melaye’s problems started after a petition by some of his constituents in 2017 that he was not representing them well. The senator’s accusers gathered signatures to demand his recall but Melaye counter-accused the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, of being the mastermind of the plot.

He subsequently approached the court to stop the process but could not get the relief he sought at the Court of Appeal. With the embattled senator incommunicado after his incarceration, many forces rose to his defence.

Among those who allegedly saved him from Bello’s prepared Golgotha was ironically, his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Members of the National Assembly, leading elites of the Okun nation, also strongly mobilised against the recall. President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, for whom Melaye had worked as a foot soldier was said to have rallied National Assembly members, and deployed his enormous contacts to save his Man Friday.

He reached to National Assembly members from Kogi to do the job. The three House of Representatives members in the senatorial constituency were said to have been helpful. It was particularly amazing that Reps. Tajudeen Yusuf and Sunday Karimi who are from the PDP and had indicated interest in replacing Melaye in the 2019 General Election rallied to Melaye’s defence.

Although, they were not visible at home during the verification exercise, their underground work was believed to have helped in frustrating the exercise. PDP dissociated itself from the exercise and called on its members to shun and vote against the verification. Aside that, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan who is also from the senatorial constituency was a rallying point against the exercise.

His was a strong voice and campaigner against the recall exercise. At the end of the exercise, Ologbondinyan said the governor failed to hearken to the appeal to stop the recall, and left them with no option but to mobilise against it.

Ologbondinyan said the failure showed that darkness cannot prevail over light.  Okun people of Kogi are an enlightened set of people in the state. They spoke with one voice and stood against the idea. To them, they saw the recall as the project of the governor and saw Melaye as the main challenger to the laxities of the governor.

Though many did not like the embattled senator’s style; especially his unbridled tongue, but they averred that they won’t allow the presidency or state governor dictate the political carriage of the area. Many said that Melaye did not offend them; so they would not be used as the political tool for his removal.

Indeed a week to the verification, the catch-phrase among the Okun was: “Whatever You Call Him Dino is Our Own and We Will Stand with Our Son.” Besides, it was evident during the verification exercise that the recall process could have been manipulated from the beginning.

Many people were shocked that their names were attached to the petition without their consent. Outraged, they turned the heat on INEC’s ad- hoc staff, fuming that they will take legal action against the commission. Some also said they were induced with monetary reward to sign. Names of dead persons were found as well as forged signatures, and verifying those forgeries became a Herculean task.

 

APC is the loser

However, the deputy governorship candidate of the APC in the 2015 elections in Kogi State and member representing Ikeja Federal Constituency, Mr. James Faleke, was quick to describe the failure of the exercise as a confirmation of the unpopularity of the governor. In separate tweets through his handle @JAFaleke, he said the ultimate loser in the failed recall exercise is the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“Until those who worked so hard to win elections for the party in Kogi are given due recognition, Governor Yahaya Bello will continue to struggle politically without results.” Mocking Bello, Faleke said Melaye defeated the governor despite being in Police detention, “The recall project has failed. The people won. The outcome today is not just about Dino but the open rejection of the Yahaya Bello led state government.

In a related development, the PDP has accused Governor Bello of wasting N5 billion public funds on the recall exercise. The party while describing Bello as “heartless” lamented that the N5 billion would have paid at least two months’ workers’ salaries in the state.

The party in a statement signed by Achadu Dickson, Director Research and Documentation, PDP, Kogi State also called for thorough investigation of the claim by some of the electorate who turned out for the exercise that their signatures were forged.

“Those who were involved in the petition submitted to INEC for the recall of Senator Dino Melaye must be arrested and tried for forgery,” the PDP said. “The huge human and financial resources deployed to the “Dino- Melaye-must-go” agenda would have made meaningful impact on the lives of the downtrodden people of Kogi State, especially the workers that are being owed several months’ salaries.

“The open rejection of the recall agenda by the people of Kogi State was a clear signal that APC and Governor Yahaya Bello have been rejected in the State.”

Reacting to the failed recall move, Melaye commended his constituents, saying that it was an energiser for him to do more.

“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,” he posted on Twitter. “Every lie has an expiry date. Forces of evil will never triumph over forces of light. God is with us.”

The Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State, Haddy Ametuo, said“some ghosts “initiated the recall process against Sen. Dino Melaye. Mr Ametuo, who stated this in a statement issued in Lokoja 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.

According to the chairman, this is a sign of what to expect in the 2019 general elections.

“No amount of financial inducement and coercion will change the will of the people of Kogi State in future elections,’’ he said.

It was gathered that following the botched recall of the senator representing Kogi West senatorial district, Dino Melaye, many political appointees of Governor Yahaya Bello from the district have allegedly gone underground and deserted their offices. The governor was said to be seriously angry with the appointees over their poor showing in their various polling units during the verification of the signatures for the recall.

Heavy mobilisation was planned for the exercise and routed through the appointees. It was learnt that N200,000 was allocated for mobilisation for each of the 522 poling units where the verification held but the money was not distributed as expected, following which the recall recorded complete failure across the seven local government areas that make up the senatorial district.

After the release of the result by INEC, many of the Senior Special Assistants, SSAs, Special Assistants, local government administrators, among others, went underground as they were deemed to have failed. However, Director General, Media and Publicity to the governor, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo, dismissed allegations that the state government spear-headed the recall against Senator Melaye.

Apart from facing the recall, Mr Melaye is also to be prosecuted by the police for alleged criminal conspiracy and allegedly arming criminals; charges he has denied.

After his admission at the National Hospital for injuries he alleged sustained from jumping from a police van, he was last week Thursday arraigned before a Lokoja Magistrate court on five count charge and subsequently reminded in prison custody till June 11, 2018. A day after arraigning Dino Melaye at Wuse Zone 2 Chief Magistrate’s Court in Abuja, the police have driven the senator to Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, and arraigned him.

He had secured a N90 million bail after he was arraigned in Abuja on Wednesday but police swiftly re-arrested him and reportedly detained him at the Force Headquarters, Abuja. Mr Melaye had fought all attempts to take him to Lokoja to stand trial, including approaching the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court for an order prohibiting the police from taking him out of Abuja. He has expressed concern for his safety in Kogi.

He was driven to Lokoja at about 4:30 a.m. by officers and they arrived there at about 7:00 a.m. The police have consistently stated that he was being sought on criminal charges which ranged armed robbery to murder. Before his arrival, heavily armed policemen had taken positions within and outside the court premises to forestall unforeseen circumstances.

Sources hinted that his ordeal may not be unconnected with his support for the senate president and opposition to the presidency. It was reported recently that the executive has devised a plan to hound some anti Buhari senators to ensure that they are denied the required number to override the president veto of the election sequence bill and possibly any impeachment plot.

It is believed that the attempt to recall him stems from his ambition to contest the guber position against Bello in 2019. So there seems to be a coalition of interests between the presidency and the governor to stop him.

The arrival of the senator in court attracted the attention of workers and others who came for transactions. Other courts within the premises were also not sitting as at the time of this report.

 

 

Below is the full breakdown of the results by local government areas:

KOTON KARFE LGA

Total Numbers of Registered Voters – 46,727

Total Numbers of Signatures on the Petitions – 24,459

Total Numbers of Signatures at Verification – 2,566

Total Numbers of Signatures Verified – 2, 335.

KABBA BUNU LGA

Total Numbers of Registered Voters – 59,319

Total Numbers of Signatures on the Petitions – 27,910

Total Numbers of Signatories at Verification – 2,151

Total Numbers Of Signatures Verified – 2,085.

IJUMU

Total Numbers of Registered Voters – 46,810

Total Numbers of Signature on the Petition – 24,389

Total Numbers of Signatures at Verification – 2,811

Total Numbers Of Signatures Verified – 2,664.

YAGBA EAST

Total Number of Registered Voters – 35,329

Total Numbers of Signature on the Petition – 18,229

Total Numbers of Signatures at Verification – 3,580

Total Numbers Of Signatures Verified – 3,506.

MOPA AMURO

Total Numbers of Registered Voters – 18, 350

Total Numbers of Signatures on the Petition – 9,173

Total Numbers of Signatures at Verification – 729

Total Numbers Of Signatures Verified – 710.

There was violence in Mopa Amuro towards the end of the exercise. Six polling units were reportedly affected. As a result, the exercise in six out of the 10 wards in the LGA was cancelled.

YAGBA WEST LGA

Total Numbers of Registered Voters – 35,506

Total Numbers of Signatures on the Petition – 19,444

Total Numbers of Signatures at Verification – 4,221

Total Numbers of Signatures Verified – 3,729.

LOKOJA LGA

Total Numbers of Registered Voters – 109,105

Total Numbers of Signatures on the Petition – 66,266

Total Numbers of Signatures at Verification – 4,810

Total Numbers of Signatures Verified – 3,763

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