INEC issues by-election notice to replace Gbajabiamila at NASS



THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has issued a notice of by-election to replace the former lawmaker representing Surulere federal constituency at the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

The release came six months after President Bola Tinubu appointed Gbajabiamila as his Chief of Staff.

The constituency has had no representation at the House of Representatives since Gbajajbiamila accepted Tinubu’s offer.

The former lawmaker was the House of Representatives Speaker between 2019 and 2023.

He was at the lower chamber of the National Assembly for 20 years, serving five terms of four years each.

He won his sixth term in the National Assembly election conducted on February 25, 2023.

Announcing the election to replace him on Friday, January 5, INEC’s public affairs officer in Lagos state, Adenike Oriowo, said the notice had been displayed publicly at the INEC head office in Sabo-Yaba, Lagos.

She assured residents of a credible exercise.

“The notice has also been posted at the commission’s Surulere local government area office. Section 28 (3) of the Electoral Act 2022 provides that this should be done not later than 14 days before the election,” Oriowo stated.

The election umpire has yet to announce the election date

Gbajabiamila was named Chief of Staff on Friday, June 2, and assumed office on Wednesday, June 14.

Since then, his federal constituency has remained without a representative for nearly seven months.

Section 76 of Nigeria’s Constitution (1999 as amended) places the responsibility of choosing election dates into the National Assembly on INEC.






     

     

    Subsection 2 of the section states that election date to fill a vacancy into the National Assembly should be fixed no later than a month after the seat was vacated, provided it became vacant more than three months to the date the House stands dissolved.

    Both sections read: “Elections to each House of the National Assembly shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

    “The date mentioned in subsection (1) of this section shall not be earlier than sixty days before and not later than the date on which the House stands dissolved, or where the election is to fill a vacancy occurring more than three months before such date not later than one month after the vacancy occurred.”

    INEC’s delay in conducting bye-election to fill the vacant seat at the House of Representatives for nearly seven months contravenes the above provision, and has been described by legal practitioners as a violation of the rights of residents of the Surulere federal constituency.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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