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‘New electoral act not for 2019 polls’ — PDP rejects tenure extension for FCT councillors

‘New electoral act not for 2019 polls’ — PDP rejects tenure extension for FCT councillors
May 19
21:49 2022

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has kicked against the suspension of the inauguration of the newly-elected council officials of the federal capital territory (FCT).

Lawrence Onuchukwu, the vice-chairman of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), had reportedly filed a case at the FCT high court, asking that the tenure of area council officials be extended from three to four years in line with the new electoral act.

Following a ruling by the court in favour of the extension, Muhammad Bello, FCT minister, had announced the suspension of the inauguration of the area council chairpersons and councillors scheduled for May 20.

The FCT area council election held in February 2022.

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Speaking on the development in a statement issued on Thursday, Debo Ologunagba, PDP national publicity secretary, described the tenure extension as “unconstitutional, illegal and baseless”.

“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has just been made aware of a bizarre judgment by Hon. Justice Ibrahim Mohammed of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, in suit No. FCT/HC/W/910/2022, wherein he attempted to extend by one year the tenure of the outgoing Chairmen and Councilors of FCT Area Councils, which expires tomorrow, Friday, May, 20, 2022,” the statement reads. 

“The clear intent of this judgment is to abridge our electoral process, overthrow the entire outcome of the FCT Area Council election held on Saturday, February 12, 2022 which was overwhelmingly won by candidates of the PDP, halt the swearing-in of the newly elected chairmen and councilors and impose an undemocratic government in the FCT.

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“The PDP vehemently and without equivocation rejects the judgment in its entirety. This judgment cannot be executed as it is unconstitutional, illegal, baseless and devoid of any legal foundation and reasoning for implementation.”

The PDP added that the court ruling cannot stand because the outgoing councillors and chairpersons were sworn into office with the Electoral Act, 2010, which provides for a three-year term. 

Ologunagba also said the court gave judgment without the necessary parties, including “the PDP, whose candidates won the majority of seats in the February 12, 2022 elections; the National Assembly that enacted the law, the Attorney General of the Federation, who has the responsibility of executing the law, and of course the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which conducted the elections”.

“Alarmingly, the intent of this judgment by Hon. Justice Ibrahim Mohammed is to make the law retroactive to illegally favour the out-going chairmen and councilors who were sworn in for a three-year tenure under the 2010 Electoral Act, which tenure, by the provision of that Act, ends on May 20, 2022,” the statement reads.

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“It is instructive to state that the Electoral Act 2022 has a commencement date of February 25, 2022. It is trite in law that laws become effective from their commencement date and cannot be retroactive in effect as being attempted by Hon. Justice Ibrahim Mohammed.”

The party which said it will ensure that the judgment is reversed, warned the outgoing councillors to steer clear of their respective area offices from May 20.

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