– Block move to revisit amended CCT Act

HOUSE of Representatives yesterday directed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct all outstanding rerun elections in Rivers and other affected states. The resolution followed a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by the House minority leader, Hon Leo Ogor, and five other lawmakers on the ‘Urgent Need for INEC to conclude all Postponed Re-run Elections in the Country Immediately and Safeguard Our Democracy.’ In his lead debate, Ogor expressed worry over incidences of several postponed re-run elections in the country, particularly in Rivers and Anambra States. He argued that it was illegal for the Commission to continue denying these states quality representation as guaranteed by the constitution, adding that INEC was breaching Section 48 and 49 of the 1999 constitution, which stipulates the manner and representation of the people at the National
and State Houses of Assembly. Other co-sponsors of the motion pointed out that it was the constitutional duties of the Commission to conduct these elections. They expressed dismay that the electoral umpire had continued to violate all provisions of the law in this regard. The lawmakers noted that in the case of Rivers State, the Court of Appeal in December 2015 ordered that re-run elections be conducted within 60 days, but INEC had totally failed in that regard. The lawmakers, however, wondered why the body could successfully conduct peaceful elections in 2015 in Borno and other North-East states where there were terrorism and insurgency. The lawmakers stressed that Rivers state had continued to be without a representation, particularly in the Senate. In his contribution, the Majority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila admitted that the current approaches of INEC to election issues called for serious concern ahead of the 2019 general elections. Gbajabiamila pointed out that the present attitude of INEC to election matters in the country was an indication that there were serious problems with the electoral body. In its resolution, the motion was referred to the House Committee on Legislative Compliance and Electoral Matters to ensure compliance, and was given two weeks to report back to the House. Reps block move to revisit amended CCT Act A move to revisit the Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Conduct Tribunal amendment passed by both chambers of the National Assembly suffered a setback in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila had asked for a suspension of the rules of the House in order to revisit the amendment. Citing section 1 (3) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, Gbajabiamila said the constitution prevailed over any ambiguity in any act, especially as the Senate was trying to harmonise the CCT Act. “The House has been a house of the people and we have never been detached from the opinions of the public,” he said. “It is not under your speakership or our membership that the house will lose its integrity. When we discovered that the clauses are infractions to the constitution we should put our breaks and reconsider it.” At this point, Kingsley Chinda from Rivers State moved a point of order, saying that it was impossible to revisit a resolution passed by the house and concurred by the senate, except the right processes were followed. Also speaking, Edward Pwajock from Plateau State said the matter ought to be put on notice before the motion comes up on the floor of the house. While ruling on the matter, Speaker Yakubu Dogara said: “It should be fixed on notice so everyone will be prepared and we will have ample time for it. For us to suspend it like this would look like an ambush.” Gbajabiamiala had expressed strong opposition to the amendment, making his position known on Twitter.

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