Basic Steps on How To RECALL A Member of The House of Assembly, House of Reps or Senate

Barr S. G Idress, Principal Partner S. G Idress & Co. (Al-Mufeed Law)

Recently there is a growing yearning and demand among young Nigerians about the need to use the only mechanism or option left in the hands of voters after electing a person into either the State House of Assembly, House of Representatives or the Senate, where there is lack of confidence.

This to me is the only weapon left in the hands of the electorate that ensure that an elected person or representative in any legislative house, remain answerable to his constituent throughout the period of his assignment as their representative.

In an attempt to provide what may look like a guide to the electorates in this regard, let me quickly consider the relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended), especially from section 69, 110, 68 and 109. Which are the sections directly connected to recall in our constitution.

Given effect to these provisions of the constitution will go a long way in reshaping our democracy and in enhancing our political culture in Nigeria going forward.

Step One: Where and how to start the recall process?

The starting point is the same whether it relate to a member of the National Assembly (House of Representatives or Senate) or a member of the House of Assembly, Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution provide in respect of the recall of a member of the National Assembly (Senate or House of Representatives) thus:
“A member of the Senate or of the House Representatives may be recalled as such a member if –

(a) there is presented to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission a petition in that behalf signed by more than one-half of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency alleging their loss of confidence in that member and which signatures are duly verified by the Independent National Electoral Commission; and

(b) the petition is thereafter, in a referendum conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission within ninety days of the date of receipt of the petition, approved by a simple majority of the votes of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency.”

While in respect of a member of the State House of Assembly section 110 provide in the same vain thus:
“A member of the House of Assembly may be recalled as such a member if –

(a) there is presented to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission a petition in that behalf signed by more than one-half of the persons registered to vote in that members’ constituency alleging their loss of confidence in that member and which signatures are duly verified by the Independent Electoral Commission; and

(b) the petition is thereafter, in a referendum conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission within ninety days of the date of the receipt of the petition, approved by a simple majority of the votes of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency.”

Step Two: What happens when the recall process is concluded by the INEC?

Where all the laid down procedures and requirements of recall are made, if it is in respect of a member of the National Assembly, section 68 provides thus:

“(1) A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member if –

(h) the President of the Senate or, as the case may be, the Speaker of the House of Representatives receives a certificate under the hand of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission stating that the provisions of section 69 of this Constitution have been complied with in respect of the recall of that member.

2) The President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as the case may be, shall give effect to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, so however that the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives or a member shall first present evidence satisfactory to the House concerned that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of that member.”

The same thing shall applied to a member of the House of Assembly, as section 109 also provides thus:

“(1) A member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if –

(h) the Speaker of the House of Assembly receives a certificate under the hand of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission stating that the provisions of section 110 of this Constitution have been complied with in respect of the recall of the member.

(2) The Speaker of the House of Assembly shall give effect to subsection (1) of this section, so however that the Speaker or a member shall first present evidence satisfactory to the House that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of the member.”

The procedure if followed will go a long way in putting all elected officials in check from the legislature down to the executive, because, where the members of the legislature became conscious of the power of the members of their Constituencies to recall them, they will refuse to allow the members of the executives from using them at the detriment of the people they supposed to represent and only then, they will be bold enough to activate their power to impeach the members of the executives if need be. Only then democracy will be a government of the people.

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