The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has received an official notice requesting the conduct of fresh elections in 25 state constituencies in Rivers State.
This comes after the seats of lawmakers in the constituencies were declared vacant by the Rivers State House of Assembly.
In a letter addressed to INEC on December 14 and acknowledged by the commission on December 15, the Clerk of the Rivers State House of Assembly communicated that the seats were declared vacant following the defection of the affected lawmakers from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in contravention of Section 109 (1)(G) and Section 2 of the 1999 Constitution.
It reads, “(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 lawmakers’ defection is linked to the ongoing political feud between Governor Siminalayi Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike, over control of the PDP structure in the state. The 25 lawmakers are said to be loyalists of Wike.
Consequently, INEC has been urged by Governor Fubara’s faction of the Rivers assembly to immediately commence the process for fresh elections to fill the vacant seats to ensure adequate representation for the constituencies affected.
Part of the letter seen by THE WHISTLER on Sunday 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.”
Political tensions continue to heighten in Rivers as the face-off between Governor Fubara and Wike escalates.