We are privileged and honoured to be the pioneers of this democratic movement, which strives to make our Senators and Reps not only accountable for their actions, but also make them show respect to us the electorate masses, who put them in the office in the first place. The CUPS organisation has been inundated by patriotic Nigerians from all over the country, asking for a document that will guide them to recall their Senators and Reps from the National Assembly (NASS).
For the efficient and transparent management of the recall process, we at CUPS endeavoured to compile this prudent document, which gives concise description of all the steps needed to be undertaken to accomplish a successful recall. We hope that you will find it useful.
This document has three parts. Part 1 explains the resources needed to be mobilised at grass-roots level, so as to implement a successful recall. Part 2 explains the procedure and constitutional requirements needed. Part 3 is our final remark on this subject matter.
PART 1: MOBILISING YOUR GRASS-ROOTS RESOURCES
1. Before you initiate a recall process on any Senator or Member of House of Reps, make sure that you have in place a representative NGO or Civil Society Organisation (CSO), whose objectives among others include espousing for democracy and good governance. If you don’t have such organisation, you need to create one ASAP. If you intend your organisation to operate only in your locality, you don’t have to go all the way to Abuja to register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). You can register your NGO or CSO at the CAC office in your state capital. The last time we did this for CUPS in Kano and Kebbi state, the fee was around N10,000, and it was done for us there and then because we had all the relevant documents like proof of ID (passport, ID card, PVC), and proof of permanent home address.
2. You need to open a bank account in the name of your NGO or CSO. This is very important. Try opening the account with one of these modern banks that have online banking facilities. This allows for ease of access, management, transparency, and accountability. Every recall process will eventually need money for collecting the signatures, paying the lawyers, and several other errands. If you cannot raise this money locally, we at CUPS are happy to make an appeal on your behalf. However, we cannot help you unless you are properly registered and have a bank account in your organisation’s name.
3. Using your organisation as a platform, conduct several consultation meetings with community leaders and stakeholders in your constituency. Organise brainstorming sessions to decide whether it is really necessary to recall your Senator or Rep. Allow the knowledgeable folks among you to take the lead in managing your affairs. Do your best to make it an all inclusive affair. This means involving your people from all political, religious, tribal and gender affiliations to participate. The more inclusive you make the process the better chance you stand in your recall process. You must not allow personal grudges, envy, and score-settling to be a deciding factor in your recall process. You cannot fight tyranny with malice and envy.
4. Don’t just start collecting signatures without formally informing the targeted Senator or Rep as to why you think they should be recalled. Clearly outline the offences you think they committed in your complaint letter. Give them at least two weeks to respond. Send a copy to INEC and CUPS. We are happy to screen your complaint letter and advise you accordingly. It might be the case that your Senator or Rep may not need a recall at all. It is important for your struggle to be seen by all as transparent, fair, and just. You risk being accused of witch-hunting if you miss this step.
5. Make sure that you know the correct format of how to collect the voters’ signatures for the recall. You are required by law to collect the full names, addresses, signatures, and PVC numbers or Codes of the signatories. This must be verified by INEC against their master register database before it is accepted as valid. It is advisable to design and print a template, which should be used for collecting signatures throughout your constituency. Create enough room in your template to collect all the relevant information legibly.
6. Inform the authorities (Police, DSS, etc) that you have constituted yourselves into a group of patriotic citizens, and that you want to exercise your constitutional rights, according to section 69 of the constitution, to start collecting signatures for the recall of your Senator or member of House of Reps. This is to avoid confusion and unnecessary harassment by the Police, who may be bribed by the Senator or Rep. We had several bad experiences with Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah in Kebbi South, but we overcame the situation.
7. You must avoid provocation, and refuse to be intimidated by the opposition, who are likely to hire thugs to cause mayhem in your constituency. Try to remain law-abiding at all times. Should there be incidence of harassment or assault on your activists while in a meeting or holding peaceful rally, you must inform the Police immediately, even if you think that they are bribed by the opposition. Justice will finally prevail in your favour. Always have members with mobile phones and digital cameras to record events and incidences.
PART 2: WHAT THE CONSTITUTION SAYS
By virtue of section 69 of the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), there is a provision that: A member of the Senate or of the House of 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 two-thirds of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency alleging their loss of confidence in that member, 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.
From the forgoing provision, the following are deducible;
First of all, the electorates “voters” must come up with a petition alleging loss of confidence in a member. It should be noted that what may constitute “loss of confidence” is not defined in the constitution, neither on any statute. This means that there is no need to accuse a NASS member of any personal wrongdoing, other than he/she is culpable of a misconduct (unbecoming of a NASS members), before the electorate can say they have lost confidence in him or her.
Going by the constitution, it is clear that the electorate of a constituency may just wake up one day and decide to recall their member of NASS if they have lost confidence in him/her, perhaps due to his/her inability to prove his/her competency in discharging his/her duties or if found complicit in any shameless conducts as we witnessed recently during the criminal padding of the 2016 budget, or the shameless theatrics in the Senate when a Senator threatened to beat up, rape, and impregnate another Senator.
Secondly, the said petition must be signed by minimum of two-thirds of the registered voters in that constituency. For example, if a constituency has 12,000 registered voters, then not less than 8,000 of these voters must sign the petition for it to be valid. In other words, anything below 8,000, like 7,999 or below will make the petition invalid in the eyes of the law.
Thirdly, the petition must be submitted to the chairman of INEC for validation.
Finally, after the submission of the petition, INEC must do the following;
(A) It must verify the authenticity of signature of voters who signed the petition.
(B) It must conduct a referendum within 90 days of the receipt of the petition in order to have it approved or disprove by a simple majority vote. For example, if 4,000 out of 8,000 registered voters turned out for the referendum, a simple majority of 2,001 votes and upward will suffice to recall the NASS member in question.
PART 3: FINAL REMARKS
Going by the above simple explanation, it is evidently clear that it is not rocket science to recall any misbehaving member of NASS. The offences recently committed by the traitors at NASS are too numerous to mention in this article. From Social Media Bill to unlawful attempt to amend CCB rules in our constitution all the way to immunity for themselves, we have seen and heard it all. However, people like Bukola Saraki, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, Eyinnaya Abaribe, Dino Melaye, Stella Oduah, Ben Murray-Bruce, Godswill Akpabio, Mohammed Danjuma Goje, David Umaru, Ahmed Yerima, Hamma Misau, Ali Ndume, Shehu Sani, and the other co-conspirators at NASS can all be successfully recalled if we the masses are determined. Democracy is a true game of numbers that goes well in our favour, we the masses. We must wake up from our slumber and shape our destiny by taking full advantage of the democratic instruments at our disposal.
Fellow compatriots, the great success of Occupy NASS has proved to us beyond doubt that we can salvage and reclaim our country back from those who have been misrepresenting us at the NASS. We are a country of over 180 million talented people, while the Saraki Mafia cabal at the NASS are a mere 50 – 60 individuals at best. We have the capacity to overcome those who seek to bastardise our country and hold us in perpetual physical and mental slavery. Regardless of what happens to Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and at the High Court, we must start recalling bad members of NASS, for the sake of our children, and for the sake of future generations of Nigerians.
It is good if we all cultivate the habit of frequently contacting our NASS members to registers our concerns and displeasure over events at NASS. All NASS members can be reached by telephone numbers available online at the NASS portal here: Find Senators and Reps
Finally, for those who are interested, INEC also has rules and regulations that are exactly identical to those of Section 69 of the Constitution eluded to above. You can check it out at the INEC website. You can also download a PDF version of this document here. It is a free publication and not to be sold: THE A TO Z OF HOW TO ORGANISE AND RECALL SENATORS AND REPS
May God save Nigeria and Nigerians. Amen.
Dr. Idris Ahmed.