Lawmaker challenges INEC on delimitation

• Says delimitation of constituencies overdue in Rivers, others

A member of the House of Representatives from Rivers State, Hon. Doctor Farah Dagogo, has clarified to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the electoral body does not require a constitutional amendment for delimitation of Constituencies in the country.

The Federal Lawmaker conceded that while some sections of the country’s electoral act required amendments, issue of delimitation was already covered in the constitution, and what INEC needed was ‘ adherence to laid down procedures as clearly stated in sections 91, 112 and 114’

Farah Dagogo made this known, Tuesday in Abuja, while speaking with newsmen in a reaction to comments by some INEC officials at a week-long retreat on the review of the electoral legal framework jointly organised by the Commission, the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).

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At the event, Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Sam Olumekun, had said that the delimitation of constituencies was long overdue in accordance with the 1999 Constitution.

He said the last constituency delimitation was done “more than a long time ago,” adding that the population of the country and registered voters have increased exponentially, thereby underscoring an urgent review for proportional and fair representation.

Farah Dagogo however noted that the nonchalant attitude of INEC to carry out its functions as required by the Constitution formed the basis for a motion he (Farah Dagogo) sponsored and was listed on the floor of the House on February 6th, 2020.

“Regrettably, that motion titled: CALL ON THE INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC) TO COMPLY WITH CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS ON STATE CONSTITUENCIES IN THE FEDERATION, was stood down that day by the Presiding Officer because of some technicalities that mainly bothered on semantics. However, the position of the Constitution on that matter was explicit and devoid of any ambiguity.”

According to him, “Section 112 empowers the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to divide every state in the Federation into such number of State Constituencies within that State.

” INEC is also empowered by Section 114 (1) of the Constitution to review the division of every State into Constituencies at intervals of not less than ten years.

” Also, Section 91 of the Constitution explains how a state is qualified for state constituencies where ” House of Assembly of a State shall consist of three or four times the number of seats which that state has in the House of Representatives… provided that a House of Assembly of a state shall consist of not less than twenty-four and not more than forty members.

“It was in the light of the foregoing and especially in the spirit of Section 91 of the Constitution and also because I believe that where a law spells injustice, its injurious effect shall be curtailed by the National Assembly being the institution saddled with that responsibility that I prayed the House to direct INEC to ensure compliance with the Constitution.

” Rivers State has 13 members in the House of Representatives and a 32 member state House of Assembly. By interpretation of the constitution, Rivers State is qualified for additional seven State Constituencies, to increase its number to at least 39 state constituencies seats.

” And it is not only Rivers State that was short-changed, other states such as Plateau, Oyo, Sokoto, Borno, Anambra, Bauchi, Delta, Akwa Ibom and many more are adversely affected by INEC’s failure to discharge this obligation.

“While INEC is focusing on amendments of some sections of the electoral acts, they should also see to the enforcement of the Constitution where they have necessary powers.

“It is more than 20 years since the last delimitation was done. The Constitution is supreme to any other law and we should toe and follow it to the letters.”

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