The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it will soon meet to fix a date for election to fill the seats vacated by Bayelsa State Governor, Duoye Diri and his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo at the Senate.
Diri and Ewhrudjakpo until their inauguration as Governor and Deputy Governor of the oil rich South South state represented Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West senatorial districts.
The Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu stated this on Friday during a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners in Abuja, where he revealed that the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan had written the Commission declaring the two seats vacant.
“In compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court, the Commission has presented Certificates of Return in respect of the Governorship elections in Imo and Bayelsa States. In the case of Bayelsa State, both the Governor and Deputy Governor were serving Senators. Consequently, the Commission yesterday Thursday 20th February 2020 received two communications from the Senate President declaring the seats for Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West Senatorial Districts vacant. The Commission will soon meet to determine the dates for by-elections in the two Senatorial Districts”, said Yakubu.
The INEC chairman, also at the meeting, warned political parties to strictly adhere to its timetable and schedule of activities for the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states, declaring that late nomination of candidates after the deadline would not be accepted.
“As stated earlier, the end of tenure Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo are holding later in the year. Given recent experience with some Governorship elections, political parties need to do more to avoid the conduct of acrimonious primaries or failure to observe due diligence in the screening of their candidates, resulting in protracted litigations and eventual determination of the outcome of elections by orders of the court. I wish to draw the attention of political parties to two critical dates in the timetable released by the Commission a few weeks ago. Party primaries for the democratic election and nomination of candidates for the Governorship election in Edo State must be held from 2nd to 27th June 2020. The date for Ondo State is 2nd to 25th July 2020. The Commission will not extend the dates. We will also rigorously monitor the primaries and where necessary, apply sanctions as provided by law.
“At the same time, the personal particulars of all the candidates nominated by political parties for the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, including their academic qualifications, will be displayed in our offices in the two States as required by law. This will enable citizens to scrutinise them and take legal action against any candidate who provides false information to the Commission. The personal particulars of candidates will be displayed on 6th July 2020 in Edo State and on 4th August 2020 in Ondo State. I wish to appeal to citizens to note the dates and to seize the opportunity to scrutinise the information provided on oath by the candidates in the interest of our democracy and good governance.
“Ahead of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, critical changes will be introduced to strengthen our processes and procedures. Similarly, the Commission, jointly with the security agencies, is reviewing deployment during elections. Already, the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) has set up a Committee in this respect. The inaugural meeting of the Committee is holding on Wednesday next week.
“As you are aware, the Commission has released the timetable and schedule of activities for the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections to be held on 19th September 2020 and 10th October 2020 respectively.
“Furthermore, the Commission has released the timetable and schedule of activities for bye-elections to fill vacancies in Magama/Rijau Federal Constituency in Niger State, Babura/Garki Federal Constituency in Jigawa State, Patigi State Constituency in Kwara State and Kebbe State Constituency in Sokoto State.
“Going by the timetable, the period for the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates has lapsed. Four political parties have nominated candidates for the Magama/Rijau Federal Constituency, three parties for Babura/Garki Federal Constituency, six parties for Patigi State Constituency and seven parties for Kebbe State Constituency. The elections are scheduled to hold simultaneously in the four states on Saturday 14th March 2020.
“For our part, the Commission has been studying the judgements of courts arising from the conduct of recent elections. We have also been reviewing the reports from accredited observers as well as internal reports from our State Offices. We will continue to keep an eye on the conduct of our officials and apply appropriate sanctions on erring staff, both regular and ad-hoc”, he added.
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