INEC has stated that it is ready to conduct bye-elections into the seats of 14 lawmakers-elect recently declared vacant by the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Frank Okiye, as long as the conditions in section 109 of the 1999 constitution were met.
INEC also confirmed that it had received official correspondence from the state House of Assembly on the suspended lawmakers. The Chief Press Secretary to the commission’s chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the confirmation. Although he said INEC was yet to take a decision on the letter.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission has indeed received a letter from the Edo State House of Assembly on the issue of the suspended lawmakers. However, the commission is yet to take a decision on the letter,” Oyekanmi said.
Also speaking on whether INEC had a right to conduct bye-elections into the seats of the suspended lawmakers when they had not been recalled by their constituents, INEC said it was empowered to conduct a bye-election into a state House of Assembly provided the conditions spelt out in section 109 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria were met.
“INEC is empowered to conduct a bye-election into a state House of Assembly provided the conditions align with section 109 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended),” he said.
INEC had earlier said it would obey any lawful resolution of the parliament as a law-abiding institution.“Unless there is a valid court order served on the commission, asking it to take an action or asking it to stay action on an issue, it is duty bound to obey any lawful pronouncement that is its responsibility,” said INEC.
It would be recalled that speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Francis Okiye, had declared 14 seats of the absentee lawmakers-elect vacant, a development many believed was connected to the political crisis rocking the state.
Those whose seats were declared vacant are Chris Okaeben (Oredo West), Crosby Eribo (Egor), Washington Osifo (Uhunmwode), Ugiagbe Dumez (Ovia North East 1), Vincent Uwadiae (Ovia North East 11), Sunday Aghedo (Ovia South West), Victor Edoror (Esan Central), Emmanuel Agbaje (Akoko-Edo 11), Eric Okaka (Owan East), Micheal Ohio-Ezo (Owan West), Oshoma Ahmed (Estako Central), Kingsley Ugabi (Estako East), and Ehi Ekhosuehi (Oredo West). Okaka and Ekhosuehi were the two lawmakers whose seats were declared vacant for not meeting mandatory sitting requirement to continue as members of the House.
The 12 members-elect and the two other lawmakers have been in Abuja since June and they have been demanding a fresh proclamation to be issued and another inauguration done.