THE Independent National Election (INEC) said it was awaiting formal communication on the existing vacancies in the National Assembly (NASS).
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this during an interaction with political editors of media organisations on Saturday in Lagos.
Yakubu said that the commission had five bye-elections to conduct, to fill the existing vacancies, but it was still awaiting official communication from the National Assembly to declare the seats vacant.
He said while the law compelled INEC to conduct bye-elections within the stipulated time, it was the presiding officers of the National Assembly or State House of Assemblies that could declare any seat vacant.
“We have no any power to declare the seat of any lawmaker vacant.
“The moment the returning officers make an announcement declaring a candidate winner, only the court of law can reverse it.
“We cannot declare vacancy and conduct bye-election unless there is a formal communication from the presiding officers of that Assembly.
“So this is not a matter under the control of the commission.’’
Yakubu also disclosed that the commission had slightly redesigned its voter register to take care of incidence where the smart card readers could not read the fingerprints of the owner.
Answering a question on the challenge of insecurity and registration of voters, Yakubu said despite the security situation the commission had a high number of register voters in some states with security challenge including Benue and Borno.
He said that was possible as it was easier to register people in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps than to register people who go individually to various registration units.
“Most interesting for me is that Benue has also recorded one of the highest numbers of registrants in the on-going CVR.
“What I find most reassuring in Benue is that in spite of the security challenge people are still interesting in voting.’’
Speaking on INEC preparation for Ekiti governorship election scheduled for the July 14, Yakubu said that the commission was working with security agencies to have a peaceful election.
Yakubu also disclosed that a new design voter register with a provision for a column to take care of cases where the smart card reads could not read fingerprints of the owner would be deployed for the election.
This according to Yakubu would speed up the voting process, compared to the old system where people have to queue to fill a form, thereby delaying the process.
The chairman pledged that he would do whatever it takes to improve on the electoral process of the country to protect his name and reputation.
“If there is anything I am going to leave INEC with is my reputation as academic. I am going back to my academic profession where I came from.
“So, whatever it takes to earn a good name for this country, for myself and my family I will do so.
“The only thing we have is our values and we work very hard to ensure that we leave with our values intact.’’
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