The Senate yesterday issued the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) till December 10, 2016 to conduct the pending National Assembly rerun elections in Rivers State.
Failure to adhere to the ultimatum, the Senate threatened to suspend plenary. It stressed that the non-representation of the state in the National Assembly was unconstitutional and condemnable.
The Upper Chamber adopted the resolution following a motion sponsored by the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekwerenmadu and co-sponsored by the Leader of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume.
Presenting his lead debate, Ekweremmadu bemoaned that despite the resolution of the Senate taken on September 27, 2016, which urged INEC to conduct the election, the commission refused to act accordingly.
Ekweremadu said: “lNEC has failed, refused and or neglected to conduct re-run elections in Rivers State into the Senate, House of Representatives and state House of Assembly.
“The failure of lNEC to conduct the re-run elections in Rivers State within the time frame ordered by the respective Election Petition Tribunals/courts is in breach of the Electoral Act and Section 76 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), thus endangering the nation’s democracy.
“Non-representation of the entire people of Rivers State in the Senate and some constituencies of Rivers State in the House of Representatives and House of Assembly is in breach of Section 14 (2) (c) of the 1999 Constitution, and endangers peace and order in the state.
“Failure of lNEC to conduct election in Rivers State has continued to deny the people of Rivers state their constitutionally guaranteed rights to be represented in the legislative houses lNEC had successfully conducted elections in the North-East of Nigeria, especially in the areas around Sambisa Forest in spite of the area having been acknowledged worldwide to be ravaged by terrorist activities.
“Elections were held in Bayelsa State in spite of government’s acknowledged threat of militant activities that necessitated provision of additional security personnel in the state for the elections.”
Ekweremmadu stressed that INEC had no excuse not to have conducted the election and urged his colleagues to support his motion.
Contributing, Ndume told his colleagues that it was unfair that Rivers had no representation in the Senate. He said it was unthinkable that the Senate was about to discuss the Petroleum Industry Bill(PIB) without a representation from the state.
“If it is our colleague from Rivers today, it could be you any day. You can imagine if because of insurgency, elections were not conducted, I will not be here, let alone being the Senate Leader.
“How would it be for my people who are ravaged by insurgency not to have somebody to tell you people or my colleagues what is actually on ground?
“Just imagine the motions we raised that led to the passage of the bill on the North-East Development Commission, how would I have proposed it?,” he queried.
Ndume said the new leadership in INEC had a lot to do in conducting successful election.
“We have a new leadership in INEC. And we know the history now; inconclusive, suspension and confusion. And we have to do something. Very soon, we will be preparing for general elections. If we cannot conduct one election in Rivers, how do we conduct the general elections.
“I know there are problems in Rivers, but elections must hold. The voice should come out from here. It is better to take a wrong decision than not to take a decision at all,” he said.
Also, Senator Matthew Uroghide said the non-representation of Rivers state in the Senate was an inhumane treatment to the people.
“There is no way we can perpetrate inhuman treatment to a people than what INEC is doing in Rivers State. It is inhuman and the National Assembly cannot sit and have this country tolerate this treatment. I support this motion, INEC should be called to order. This is no time for favouritism. So I ask that INEC be called to conduct the election. I believe one month is too much,” he said.
The Senate also approved an additional prayer moved by Senator  Dino Melaye, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint a minister from Kogi State to replace the late Mr. James Ocholi, who died alongside his wife, Blessing, on Kaduna/Abuja Road on March 5 this year.

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