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State electoral commissions should be scrapped, says Fagbemi

Lateef Fagbemi, attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, has proposed that state independent electoral commissions (SIECs) should be dispensed with. 

Speaking on Monday at a one-day discourse, Fagbemi also posited that the powers of SIECs should be transferred to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The discourse with the theme: ‘Nigeria’s Security Challenges And Good Governance At The Local Government Levels’ was organised by the house of representatives.

Fagbemi said governors have exploited the flaws in certain sections of the 1999 constitution, effectively rendering local governments powerless and irrelevant.

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The minister said these inadequacies have allowed the governors to abuse the rights of local governments by using SIECs to impose leaders on them through sham elections.

He said other governors who do not conduct sham polls appoint vassals as caretaker leaders for the local governments.

He called for a robust constitutional amendment that will remove all hindrances to the development of local governments, and bolster their ability to fulfil constitutionally recognised mandate.

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“To achieve this, many experts have proposed that there is need for the scrapping of the state independent electoral commission,” he said.

“Their functions and powers should be transferred to the independent national electoral commission because the state independent electoral commission remains an appendage to every incumbent governor.

“This is perceived as the root cause of the problem of local government administration in Nigeria.”

The federal government has dragged the 36 state governors to the supreme court over the age-long debate of full autonomy for local governments.

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The attorney-general’s take comes just days after INEC berated SIECs for turning local government elections into mere coronation exercises.

“Unfortunately, the conduct of local government elections in virtually all the states of the federation has become mere coronation of candidates of the ruling parties,” Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, said.

“It is time to stop the coronation and conduct proper elections.”

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