Senate rejects bill to scrap bye-elections for vacant seats

A bill that would allow political parties to fill vacant seats in the national or state legislative chambers without bye-elections was rejected by the senate on Tuesday.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Sunday Karimi from Kogi west, aimed to save the funds that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would spend to conduct a bye-election in the case of the death or resignation of a lawmaker.

Senator Karimi argued that the bill was in line with the practice in other countries, such as America, where Nigeria borrowed its democracy from. He said that in those countries, candidates for parliamentary seats are replaced by the parties or the state congress.

He said: “The purpose of this bill is to eliminate waste in conducting by-elections by INEC. Even in supreme court judgments here, it is said that the party owns the ticket. When we have such situations the party should replace the candidate. Our democracy is growing, we need to reduce costs.”

However, the bill faced opposition from Senator Kawu Sumaila from Kano south, who said that it was the people who vote a candidate into office and not any political party.

Senate President Godswill Akpabio advised Senator Karimi to step down the bill and present it again, but the lawmaker declined.

When the bill was put to vote, the majority of the senators voted against it.

A similar bill has passed the first reading in the house of representatives.

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