INEC can’t conduct LG elections without constitutional authority – Mahmood Yakubu

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Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has hinted that the commission does not possess the constitutional authority to conduct local government elections across Nigeria, except within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Yakubu made this statement during a two-day induction retreat for INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) held on Monday in Lagos.

Addressing concerns about the possibility of INEC taking on the responsibility for local government elections nationwide, Yakubu emphasized that such a decision hinges on constitutional provisions.

“It is a constitutional matter,” Yakubu asserted. “Unless there are necessary amendments to the constitution, INEC will continue to organize national and state elections only.”

He explained further, “The constitution that establishes INEC also creates the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs), and we cannot usurp their roles.”

Yakubu highlighted that INEC currently conducts local government elections solely within the FCT, overseeing elections for six area council chairmen and 62 councillors. He commended the commission’s performance in the FCT elections, noting their commitment to conducting them effectively.

“While there is advocacy for INEC to handle all elections, constitutional amendments are required for such a shift,” Yakubu emphasized. “At present, we have not reached that point.”

The ongoing constitutional amendment process has seen some Nigerians advocating for the dissolution of SIECs to enable INEC to assume control of local government elections. They argue that this move would curb alleged irregularities and ensure fair distribution of local councils’ allocations currently influenced by state governors.

It will be recalled that earlier this year, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), supported the scrapping of SIECs, advocating for INEC to assume their responsibilities. Fagbemi cited the need for independence and transparency in the conduct and outcomes of local government elections nationwide.

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