The Senate has declared vacant the seats of Bayelsa State governor, Senator Diri Douye and his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpom.
Already, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it had received official communication of the Senate to that effect.
The Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan’s communication declaring the seats for Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West Senatorial Districts vacant, has prompted INEC to meet in order to determine the dates for bye-elections for the slots.
At his first meeting of the year 2020 with the resident electoral commissioners (RECs) in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said that they were still waiting for more announcements of vacant seats from the National Assembly.
“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 the 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 bye-elections in the two senatorial districts,” Yakubu said.
On the Edo and Ondo States’ gubernatorial elections coming up later this year, Yakubu said that “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 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 the 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 the 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 said.
He said that ahead of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, critical changes would be introduced to strengthen the commission’s processes and procedures.
Yakubu further said that “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.”
On the judgment of the courts arising from the recent elections they conducted, Yakubu said that INEC was studying them.
“For our part, the commission has been studying the judgments 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,” Yakubu said.
He warned the members of staff against complacency, stressing that they were being monitored.