BY MAYOWA SAMUEL
The People’s Democratic Party has assured that it will look into two recently declared vacant seats in the Plateau State House of Assembly, previously occupied by its members.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba disclosed this to The Point in an exclusive chat.
The State Assembly, during a plenary last week, presided over by the current Speaker, Yakubu Sanda, representing Pengana Constituency, declared vacant the seat of ousted Speaker, Abok Nuhu Ayuba, representing Jos East Constituency, following his defection from the All Progressives Congress to the PDP.
The same day, the Assembly also declared vacant the seat of Musa Agah, also of the PDP, representing Rukuba-Irigwe Constituency, after he was elected to the National Assembly during the February 26 by-election to represent Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency.
As regards the former Speaker, Ayuba, Ologunagba said, “I can’t give you an answer right away because I don’t even know the status as we speak.
“He defected from the APC to PDP, and if they declared their seat vacant, I can’t speak to that, I don’t know if they’ve gone to challenge that in court as to whether they cannot declare their seat vacant,” he added.
In the case of Agah, Ologunagba stated that the party was awaiting the Independent National Electoral Commission before they take their next step.
He said, “He can’t be in two houses together, there will be a rerun under the law. It’s an INEC induced process, when a seat becomes vacant, they will conduct a by-election within 90 days of the declaration of vacancy of that position.
“So, we will wait for INEC, we can’t just replace him, INEC will settle the process to do that. We will now present the candidate for that position and they can now go for that election. There must be a re-run election,” he noted.
On his part, the INEC spokesman, Festus Okoye told The Point that while he was aware that both seats in the State Assembly were declared vacant, he disclosed that the electoral body will meet to deliberate on their next move as soon as all requirements have been met.
“I’m aware that such a declaration has been made and I’m also aware that the letter to that particular effect has been delivered to our office in Plateau and when all the necessary processes and procedures are carried out, and it gets to us, we will meet as a commission and then take a decision.
“We are not a court of law. What we do is that, if the constitutional and legal requirements have been met, we’ll just give effect to it.
“Definitely, we will conduct a by-election in that constituency at the appropriate time. I’ve not seen the letter, the time begins to run from the time the letter is delivered to the commission and then, we will also look at if there are security or other issues around the constituency, we take all those things into consideration in fixing the date for the by-election. If there’s no impediment, the moment the vacancy is declared, and we are served with a formal declaration of vacancy, we will move ahead and set a date for the election,” Okoye stated further.
The INEC spokesman expressed confidence that the controversy concerning Section 84(12) will not affect or delay any upcoming election if the matter still lingers.
“The issue of deletion of Section 84(12) has absolutely nothing to do with the commission. The issue is between the National Assembly, the judiciary and the political parties, it has nothing to do with the commission. It won’t affect or delay our activities in any election. We operate on the basis of the existing law, and the electoral act 2022 is very clear and we are proceeding with the elections and all our activities,” Okoye noted.