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Rivers Assembly Passes Amended Local Government Bill

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Rivers Assembly passes Amended Local Government bill

Amend State electoral bill

Nelson Chidebere, Port Harcourt

The Rivers State House of Assembly passed an amended version of the Rivers State Local Government Law No. 5 of 2018 and other related matters.

During the 120th legislative sitting on Wednesday, the House debated the pros and cons of the bill. They then proceeded to give the bill clause-by-clause consideration and resolved to a committee of the whole before passing the bill.

Members of the House commended the sponsor of the bill, stating that it is an essential amendment that will foster smooth and uninterrupted democratic administration at the local government level.

The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Martin Chike Amaewhule explained that the bill seeks to amend Sections 9(2), (3), and (4) of the Principal Law. This amendment will empower the House of Assembly to extend the tenure of elected chairmen and councillors via a resolution where it is not feasible to hold local government elections before the expiration of their three-year term.

The amendment is to ensure that local government elections are conducted before the expiration of the outgoing local government administration.

The Speaker further explained that when the tenure of the outgoing local government administration expires, the Governor will swear in the newly elected chairmen and vice-chairmen of the councils. However, if the Governor is unable or fails to perform the task, the House will mandate Judicial Officers or Magistrates to perform the duty through a resolution.

The Speaker emphasized that the progressive intent of the bill cannot be overemphasized.

In a related development, the House gave the first reading to the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill. This bill is sponsored by Hon. Linda Somiari-Stewart, the Member representing Okrika Constituency. It seeks to amend Section 20 of the Principal Law and when passed may be cited as the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (Amendment) Law, 2024.

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