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Senate Threatens To Suspend Sittings Over Inconclusive Rivers Election

Senate has threatened to suspend its sittings if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) does not conduct the re-run senatorial election in Rivers State by December 10.

Senate Threatens To Suspend Sittings Over Inconclusive Rivers Election
National Assembly

The resolution followed a motion put forward on Wednesday by the Deputy Senate President, Mr Ike Ekweremadu.

Senator Ekweremadu called the attention of the Senate to the pending elections and failure of INEC to act accordingly.

‘It Could Be Any Of Us’

Senator Ekweremadu was worried that INEC was breaching the Electoral Act by failing to conduct the senatorial rerun election in the state.

He stated that the act had led to the absence of representatives from Rivers State both in the Senate and House of Representatives after the elections were declared inconclusive.

Senate Leader Ali Ndume, giving his opinion on the issue, said” “It could be any of us as in the case of River State. Imagine a state like mine ravaged by insurgency without a representation.

“We have a new leadership in INEC and yet the cases recorded have been inconclusive elections and sometimes confusion”. Today we are taking Petroleum Industry Bill deliberations without any Senator from River State”.

In support of the Point of Order, Senator Matthew Urhoghide urged the Senate to take note of the place of democracy in what they do.

“There is no other way we can input inhumane treatment than what INEC is doing in Rivers State”.

The Chairman of the Senate INEC Committee, Senator Abubakar Kyari, however inform his colleagues that the latest information that he had from INEC was that elections in Rivers State would hold on December 10 December.

After the deliberations, the Senate resolved to call on the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct elections to vacant senatorial seats in Rivers State not later than December 10 or Senate Plenary will be suspended.

Capping the deliberations, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said: “This is a very important motion targeted to improve our democracy. We will go with the information from the Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC.

“We all saw the new INEC Chairman during his screening, this a very challenging time for him and his commission to prove themselves. The Senate INEC Committee Chairman too has given us his words and we will hold him accountable to it”.

Amendment of The Electoral Act

The lawmakers at the Upper House further continued with the process of amending the Electoral Act setting up the electoral body.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Abubakar Kyari, said six amendments were sought, one of which was the controversial issue of the replacement of a candidate at an election who dies between commencement of polls and declaration of the result of the election.

Different opinions followed the issues, particularly on the aspect of who takes over if a death of a governorship candidate occurs; the running mate or a fresh candidate as it happened recently in Kogi State.

Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe says the running mate should take over or else this will further compound the system by creating a gap.

A divergent view put forward by another Senator supports the decision of the INEC at that time, asking the party to forward the name of whoever they want to replace the dead person with.

Senator Danjuma Goje was of the opinion that the party should be allowed to appoint someone of their choice putting the zoning principle into consideration.

Senator Sam Anyanwu, on his own part used an instance of impeachment where the Deputy takes over and questions the difference in the scenarios.

These views in the debate to amend the Act subsequently led to a division among the lawmakers.

Due to the ‘perceived silence’ of the law in cases of candidate’s death before an election ends, an impasse had erupted in Kogi State during the governorship election where the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Abubakar Audu, led the polls before his death.

In his conclusion, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, asked the committee to go back and review its proposal due to its controversial and delicate nature.

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