By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), has thrown its weight behind the creation of additional 39 electoral wards by the state Independent Electoral Commission, (AKISIEC).
The creation of the wards as announced by the Commission’s chairman, Mr. Aniedi Ikoiwak, ahead of October, 2020 local government polls had generated hit among political stakeholders.
It would be recalled that the All Progressives Congress in the state citing alleged breach of the Constitution, had withdrawn from the forthcoming local government polls and proceeded to court to challenge the legality or otherwise of AKISIEC to create such wards.
But the CLO in a statement by its Chairman and Secretary, Franklyn Isong and Christopher Ekpo respectively, on Tuesday said APC questioning the powers of AKISIEC to create new wards placed a blank reliance on the Constitution as exclusively empowering only INEC to create wards.
Isong argued that there is no provision in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999 (as amended) or electoral Act, 2010, (as amended) that reserves the right on INEC to create electoral wards
“The statement said, “The powers vested in AKISIEC and other State Independent Electoral Commissions in Paragraph 4(a) and (b) of the Constitution are replicated in Part II, Section 10 (1)(a) and (b) of the Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission Law, 2007 as the functions of AKISIEC.
“Part II, Section 10(2) of the AKISIEC Law, 2007 also adds as a function of AKISIEC, the discretionary power to create new Local Government Wards every 10 years as the circumstances of each Local Government may require.
“Acting pursuant to the powers given to it in Part II, Section 10(2) of the AKISIEC Law, 2007, AKISIEC through an advertorial published on pages 9 -20 of The Pioneer Newspaper of Monday, July 27 – 28, 2020, announced the creation of additional 39 Wards spread across the 31 Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State.
“Those questioning the powers of AKISIEC to create new Wards place a blank reliance on the Constitution as it exclusively empowers the INEC to create Wards.
“CLO has looked through the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) but has not seen any provision thereat exclusively empowering INEC to create Wards”
“CLO has also searched the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) but has not found any provision thereafter exclusively empowering INEC to create Wards”
Isong said the exercise would draw governance closer to the people, decongest registration areas during the collation of voters and further the ends of the COVID-19 preventive protocols in the state.
He called on the Commission to however address the perceived lopsidedness as well as omissions and misspellings among other issues noticed during the exercise