Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to carry out the proper delineation of electoral constituencies in several states of the federation in line with Section 91 of the 1999 Constitution.
Section 91 of the constitution provides that “a House of Assembly of a state shall consist of three or four times the number of seats which that state has in the House of Representatives divided in a way to reflect, as far as possible, nearly equal population, provided that a House of Assembly of a state shall consist of not less than 24 and not more than forty members.”
The House noted that INEC has however failed to comply with the Constitution, leading to a shortfall in the number of seats allowed in respect of the required states.
Adopting the prayers of a motion sponsored by Hon. Kingsley Chinda (Rivers PDP), the House directed INEC to release all suppressed state constituencies and forward same to the National Assembly for ratification.
Chinda said there are 66 suppressed constituencies across 19 states: Akwa Ibom (4), Anambra (3), Bauchi (5), Benue (4), Borno (2), Delta (1), Edo (3), Imo (3), Jigawa (3), Kaduna (6), Katsina (6), Kogi (2), Niger (3), Ogun (1), Ondo (1), Osun (1), Oyo (8), Rivers (7) and Sokoto (3).
He said under-representation in the various state Houses of Assembly due to INEC’s deliberate neglect, refusal and failure, has denied the people guaranteed right to adequate representation, and by extension, a denial of their rights to participate in critical issues deliberated by the Assemblies.
“In Rivers, we have 13 seats in the House of Representatives, and 32 in the State House of Assembly where we are supposed to have 39…some states have gone to Court on this matter,” he said.
Contributing to the debate, Hon. Hassan Saleh (Benue PDP) accused the electoral body to bowing to the whims of some state governors who do not want proper delineation of their states for political reasons.
“We have the case of the famous Otukpa State Constituency in Benue State, which the present Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, once represented in the state House of Assembly. Today, that constituency is no more,” he said.
The lawmaker queried why INEC would be going to Court to stop its constitutional functions.