By Our Correspondent
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it would soon meet to determine the date for the conduct of bye-elections to fill the vacancies in Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West Senatorial Districts.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu gave the hint on Friday in Abuja at the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) first regular meeting for the year 2020.
He reminded parties that the conduct of primaries for the governorship election in Edo State must be held between June 2, and June 27, while that of Ondo was from July 2 to July 25.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan has declared the seats of Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West Senatorial Districts vacant, following the election of their occupants as governor and deputy governor of Bayelsa State.
The governor, Sen. Diri Douye represented Bayelsa Central while his deputy, Sen. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo represented Bayelsa West.
Speaking at a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners RECs on Friday in Abuja, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said the electoral umpire would soon pick dates for the conduct of a by-election to fill the two seats.
The INEC chairman said, “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_ February 20 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 bye-elections in the two Senatorial Districts”.
The two seats became vacant following the declaration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s candidate, Sen. Douye Diri and his deputy Sen. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo as winner of the state governorship election.
Yakubu said: “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 Feb. 20 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 bye-elections in the two Senatorial Districts,” he said.
Yakubu added that ahead of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, scheduled for Sep. 19 and Oct. 10 respectively, critical changes would be introduced to strengthen electoral 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.”
Yakubu noted that given recent experience with some governorship elections, political parties needed to do more to avoid the conduct of acrimonious primaries.
He also urged party fail 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 court.
“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 July 6 in Edo State and on Aug. 4 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.”
Yakubu disclosed that the period for the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates has lapsed for four bye-elections to hold simultaneously on March 14 in four states.
The bye-elections were for 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.
“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.”
Yakubu who said that elections had became an all-year round activity for INEC, disclosed that in 2020 alone INEC had conducted elections into 28 constituencies by court order while four bye-elections would be held in the next three weeks.
“As I said earlier, vacancies were declared in two Senatorial Districts yesterday. We are also awaiting declarations of vacancies for two more Senatorial Districts.
“While we are conducting these elections, we must also continue to proactively and progressively work for the improvement of the electoral process.”