Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of acting in breach of section 73(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), for failing to review, and where necessary, delineate both state and federal constituencies across the country.
The said section mandates the Commission to within a specified period, review such constituencies to reflect changes in populations therein, an exercise that none had been carried out since the return of democracy in 1999.
Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, who led other members of the caucus at a media briefing on Wednesday, said “section 73(1) expressly directed that the Independent National Electoral Commission shall review the division of states of the federation into federal constituencies at intervals of not less than 10yrs, and may alter the constituencies in accordance with the provisions of this section to such extent as it may consider desirable in the light of the review”.
He, however, denied suggestions that the call may be akin to seeking for increase in the number of federal constituencies and senatorial districts in the country, but noted that INEC was only being charged to live up to its responsibilities as provided for in the constitution, adding that such review may even result in a drop of the numbers.
Elumelu who had earlier presented a motion on the matter during plenary, further argued that “since the commencement of the 4th republic till date, INEC has not deemed necessary the compliance of the above section 73(1) of the 1999 constitution as amended thereby depriving citizens of bloated federal constituencies adequate attention.
“Though the constitution provides a 10yr time frame for constituency reviews, INEC has not done any known review in the last 22 years of the current democratic dispensation, hence the urgent need to call on INEC to be alive to her responsibilities”.
He also debunked the assertion credited to INEC Chairman that such move ought to start with the National Assembly amending the constitution where specific numbers were mentioned for membership of both chambers of the apex parliament, insisting that INEC should fulfill its responsibility as contained in section 73(1) first, and approach the parliament if there are constrains based on its review.
“INEC should go and invoke the provision first, it can then come back and meet the constitution review committees of both chambers with its suggestions. The committees are all open to all manner of suggestions, especially if that would help unify Nigeria. It is absurd for us to be disobeying the constitution”, he stated.