INEC Invalidates Certificate Of Return Of Plateau State Lawmakers
Certificates of Return issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to three Plateau State lawmakers, who were declared winners during the April general election, have been declared invalid by the commission.
The affected lawmakers include Mwansat Istifanus Caleb, PDP, Pankshin South; Mrs Alice Asaije Dimlong, APC, Pankshin North and Vincent Bulus, PDP, Langtan South.
According to a letter to Speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly, Peter Azi, INEC said it decided to invalidate the lawmakers’ certificates of return based on the judgment of Jos Judicial Division of the Court of Appeal, which nullified their elections on December 5, 2015.
It would be recalled that in the case of Langtang South, the Appeal Court nullified the results of the entire state constituency and ruled that the decision of the lower tribunal to the effect that the appellant’s (Vincent Bulus) conviction and sentence for the offence of cheating, contrary to section 324 of the penal code disqualified him from contesting the election under the 1999 Constitution, while in the case of Pankshin North and South, the Appeal Court ruled that a fresh election be conducted in the two constituencies, but only in Nyelleng and Pyabor polling units.
INEC’s letter which was signed by the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Godwin M.Kwanga, and dated 14th December 2015, stressed that “the effect of these judgments is that the Certificates of Return issued to members representing these constituencies are no longer valid.”
The letter further maintained that; “the commission shall conduct and conclude elections in respect of these constituencies within ninety days as ordered by the court”
According to the sources, the electoral body was angry with the leadership of the state House of Assembly for allowing the ousted lawmakers to continue with their legislative functions in violation of the Court of Appeal judgment.
“We discovered that they have been performing their legislative functions despite their sack by the Court Appeal which is the highest court in their own case. Some of them even participated in the recent screening and confirmation of commissioner nominees sent to the House by Governor Simon Lalong.
“This is wrong, because the law does not recognize interim representation under any guise and that is why INEC have to write the Speaker to take note of genuine members of the House pending when the commission conducts elections to fill the vacant constituencies in line with the provisions of the law,” a source said.
Omolara Adegoke- Abuja
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