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Rivers Assembly Writes INEC to Conduct Fresh Bye-Elections in 25 Constituencies after Lawmakers’ Defection to APC. By Olawale Lamina

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has received an official notification from the Rivers State House of Assembly requesting the conduct of fresh elections in 25 state constituencies in Rivers State.

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This was sequel to the declaration of the seats of 25 lawmakers vacant in their constituencies by members of the Rivers State House of Assembly faction loyal to governor Siminalayi Fubara.

In a letter addressed to INEC through the Clerk of the Rivers State House of Assembly on December 14 and acknowledged by the Commission on December 15, the Assembly informed that the seats were declared vacant following the defection of the concerned 25 lawmakers from the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress APC.

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The letter observed that the lawmakers’ action is contrary to the provisions of Section 109 (1)(G) and Section 2 of the 1999 Constitution.

The letter reads in part, “(1) A member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if –

“(g) being a person whose election to the House of Assembly was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected:

“Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored; or

Section 2 mandates, “The Speaker of the House of Assembly shall give effect to subsection (1) of this section, so however that the Speaker or a member shall first present evidence satisfactory to the House that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of the member.”

The defected lawmakers’ action may have been spurred by the political feud between governor Siminalayi Fubara and his predecessor cum godfather, Nyesom Wike, over control of political structure in the state.

The 25 lawmakers who jumped ship to the APC are said to be loyal to Nyesom Wike, who is currently the Minister of the FCT.

Following the defected lawmakers course of action, the state assembly faction loyal to Fubara has called on INEC swiftly embark on the process for fresh elections with a view to filling the vacant positions, to pave the way for equal and adequate representation in the constituencies .

The letter further reads: “…I write on behalf of the Rivers State House of Assembly to kindly request for a bye-election to be conducted to fill the vacant seats in the Rivers State House of Assembly.”

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