The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has disclosed that the commission will conduct rerun and bye-elections across the country in February 2024, to fill existing vacancies in the state and federal legislatures.
According to The PUNCH, Yakubu made this known at a meeting with leaders of political parties in Abuja on Monday ahead of the elections.
Rerun elections only involve the parties and candidates that participated in the general elections unless a party wishes to replace a deceased candidate. However, bye-elections are fresh elections.
Yakubu explained that at the end of litigation, the courts ordered the commission to conduct rerun elections in 34 federal and state constituencies, made up of one in the Senate, 11 federal constituencies, and 22 state constituencies.
He made it clear that the reruns would hold alongside bye-elections, noting that political parties must conduct fresh primaries within the limited period of time provided by law.
He said, “The purpose of this meeting is to brief party leaders on the commission’s preparation for the forthcoming elections to be held early in the new year. The elections are in two categories.
“First, as the Election Petition Appeal Tribunals set up in the aftermath of the 2023 general elections gradually wind up their proceedings, the commission is required to conduct rerun elections in some constituencies by court order.
“Secondly, the commission is also required to conduct bye-elections to fill vacancies arising from the death or resignation of members of the national and state Houses of Assembly. The commission intends to combine and conduct the two categories of elections on the same day, the details of which will be discussed at this meeting.
“Consequently, political parties must conduct fresh primaries within the limited period of time provided by law.”
The INEC boss said with courts ordering nullifying elections in 34 constituencies and ordering reruns, INEC had not done badly.
He said, “So far, the Election Petition Appeal Tribunals have ordered the commission to conduct rerun elections in 34 constituencies made up of one senatorial district, 11 federal constituencies and 22 state Assembly constituencies.
“However, the 34 constituencies constitute 2.8 per cent of the 1,191 petitions filed by litigants. Significantly, out of the 34 rerun elections, it is only in three cases that the commission was ordered to conduct elections in the entire constituency. In the other 31 constituencies, elections are to be held in a few polling units.
“I want to assure you that at the end of all the litigation, including the governorship elections pending on appeal at the Supreme Court, the commission will present a comprehensive analysis of the petitions, including cases where the commission was ordered to issue Certificates of Return to other candidates and the reasons for the decisions by the courts as part of the lessons learnt from the 2023 general elections for the consequential reforms to improve the conduct of future elections.
“The commission is looking at the first week of February 2024, i.e. in just a little over one month to conduct both the re-run and bye-elections.”