The Senate, Wednesday gave the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) up to December 10, 2016 to conduct the pending National Assembly Elections in Rivers State.
The Senate threatened to suspend its plenary if the electoral umpire exceeds the given deadline by it, stressing, that the non-representation of the oil-rich state in the National Assembly was unconstitutional.
The Senate arrived at its resolution, following a one prayer motion sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu and co-sponsored by the Leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume.
Presenting the lead debate, Ekweremmadu decried that despite the resolution of the Senate on September 27, 2016, which urged INEC to conduct the election, the commission “refused” to oblige.
“lNEC has failed, refused and or neglected to conduct re-run elections in Rivers State into the Senate, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly.
“The failure of lNEC to conduct the re-run elections in Rivers State within the time frame ordered by the respective Election Petition Tribunals/Courts is in breach of the Electoral Act and Section 76 of the 1999 Constitution, thus endangering the nation’s democracy.
“Non representation of the entire people of Rivers State in the Senate and some constituencies of Rivers State in the House of Representatives and State House of Assembly is in breach of Section 14 (2) (c) of the 1999 Constitution, and endangers peace and order in the State.
“Failure of lNEC to conduct election in Rivers State has continued to deny the people of Rivers State their constitutionally guaranteed rights to be represented in the legislative houses.
“lNEC had successfully conducted elections in the North East of Nigeria, especially in the areas around Sambisa Forest in spite of the area having been acknowledged worldwide to be ravaged by terrorist activities.
“Elections were held in Bayelsa State in spite of government acknowledged threat of militant activities that necessitated provision of additional security personnel in the State for the elections,” he said.
Ekweremadu stressed that INEC had no excuse not to have conducted the election and urged his colleagues to support his motion.
In his contribution, the co-sponsor of the Bill and Leader of the Senate Ali Ndume told his colleagues that it was unfair that Rivers State had no representation in the Senate.
He said that it was unthinkable that the Senate was about to discuss the Petroleum Industry Bill without a representation from Rivers State.
“If it is our colleague from Rivers today, it could be you any day. You can imagine if because of insurgency elections were not conducted I will not be here, let alone being the Senate Leader.
“How would it be for my people who are ravaged by insurgency not to have somebody to tell you people or my colleagues what is actually on ground.
“Just imagine the motions we raised that led to the passage of the bill on the North East Development Commission, how would I have proposed it?” he queried.
The senate also approved an additional prayer moved by Senator Dino Melaye urging President Buhari to appoint a Minister from Kogi state to replace the Late James Ocholi.
Ocholi from Kogi state died along with his wife Blessing and Son Joshua along the Kaduna – Abuja road on March 5, 2016.
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