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Seriake cautions N’ Assembly over usurpation of INEC powers on results transmission

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A member of the Senate committee on electoral matters, Mr. Seriake Dickson, has warned against the usurpation of the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the mode of transmitting results of the 2023 poll.

Dickson, who represents Bayelsa West Senatorial District, spoke to reporters in Abuja, insisting the decision by the upper legislative chamber on the electoral amendment bill was in breach of constitutional provisions.

The former Bayelsa State governor, who is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), expressed fear that the court may ultimately overturn the position of the National Assembly on the issue.

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The lawmaker was, however, optimistic that the conference committee of the National Assembly would correct the anomaly in the interest of the nation.

He said: “First, as a member of the committee, we did a good job, which would have taken care of all the controversies now being raised. That draft would have enabled INEC to transmit electronically wherever and whenever they felt there is technology available for them to transmit results.

“You can see the attacks on the National Assembly and attacks on the Senate especially. While casting my vote for electronic transmission, I made it very clear that it is unconstitutional for the National Assembly or any arm or anybody to subordinate the independence and operational powers conferred by the constitution on INEC.

“You can’t subordinate INEC to any other body. It is not possible and if that ends up as the position of the National Assembly, you can be very sure of what the likely decision of the court will be. And that is why you have the executive, legislature and the judiciary.”

He said further: “Laws that are passed that are inconsistent with the constitution will be challenged. I said on the floor that it is unconstitutional to subject the operational independence of INEC to another agency, no matter how technical, no matter how highly placed that agency is.”

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He, however, noted: “There is still room for further legislative work. Nigerians should not lose hope. It is gratifying to see that Nigerians love democracy. They are excited about voting and the expectation is that they want their votes to count and their votes to be counted. I believe the National Assembly exists to make that possible.”

The senator also warned of possible consequences if the three per cent equity share holding for host communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is not reviewed upward to the five per cent initially proposed by the Senate joint committee on petroleum resources.

He said the Federal Government could not afford to contend with another level of unrest and insecurity from the region.

“Of course you know the history. The Senate passed three per cent and the House five per cent and they went for a conference, which came up with three per cent. As you know, I disagree completely and most of us disagreed with the three per cent that was eventually passed.”

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