Niger Delta

Ijaw Youths urge INEC to fix date to fill Gov. Diri, deputy’s seats at the Senate



The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct bye-election to fill the vacant seats in the Bayelsa West and Central Senatorial Districts.

The two seats were occupied by Sen. Douye Diri and Sen. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor before being sworn in on Feb. 14 as Bayelsa Governor and Deputy following a Supreme Court judgment that sacked the erstwhile Governor-elect David Lyon.

The Chairman of Central zone of the IYC, Mr Kenedy Olorogun, made the call in a letter addressed to the Chairman of INEC and the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state.

Olorogun, who in a copy of the letter made available to newsmen asked INEC to urgently fix a date for the election, lamented that its delay had deprived the people in the area of proper representation at the Senate.

He explained that the two senate seats had been vacant for more than six months as the occupants and had become a matter of concern to the people.

“We write to express the fears and predicament of our people to you and to draw your attention to the lack of representation of the people of the Bayelsa West and Central Senatorial Districts at the National Assembly.

“Recall that pursuant to the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Sen. Douye Diri and Sen. Degi Eremienyo and others.

” Diri and Ewhrudjakpor were sworn in as governor and deputy of Bayelsa on the  Feb.14, thereby making their seats at the Senate vacant.

“In effect, it is about six months now since the seats occupied by the two became vacant thereby leaving the people of Bayelsa West and Central without representation at the Senate.

“Our worry and that of the people is predicated on the premise that Bayelsa West And Central Senatorial Districts have been deprived of representation and benefits that would have gone to these areas and people based on the absence of any representation”, the letter read in parts.

The council according to him, therefore called on INEC, as a matter of urgency to fix date for the bye-election.

He said it was sad that the two senatorial districts were not present during the Senate debate and deliberations on the recently accented Appropriation Act.

INEC had in March, postponed the bye-election in the senatorial districts due to the COVID-19 pandemic and said election to fill the vacant seats could only be conducted when it was safe to do so.

“Arising from the declaration of vacancies by the President of the Senate, the Commission commenced preparation to the conduct of the bye-elections to fill these vacancies.

“However, given the health emergency occasioned by Coronavirus pandemic and the preventive measures put in place by the health authorities, federal and state governments, the commission had decided to postpone the four senatorial bye-election until the situation normalises”, INEC said in a statement.

The commission further explained that it was working to ensure elections were conducted into the vacant senate seats.

“The current Pandemic actually stalled the plans, but INEC has already come out with policy guidelines for conducting elections in this situation.

“The Commission has not fixed a date yet for Bayelsa and other states which have similar by elections to fill up vacant seats.

“The main preparation is that the commission is working to ensure elections are conducted in Edo and Ondo States for governorship positions as they are time bound by the constitution.

“As soon as a date is fixed I will definitely communicate same to the public,”  the commission said.

Edited By: Gregg Mmaduakolam/Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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