There is palpable tension among major stakeholders in Abuja over alleged tenure elongation for the current area council chairmen and councillors in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
In suit No. FCT/HC/W/910/2022, Justice Ibrahim Mohammed of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, had extended by one year, the tenure of the out-going chairmen and councillors of FCT Area Councils, which expires Friday, May, 20, 2022.
With the judgement, FCT Minister Muhammad Bello suspended the swearing-in of the new set of elected officials.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the judgement, threatening to drag the Judge to the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Thursday, PDP National Publicity Secretary Debo Ologunagba alleged the All Progressives Congress (APC) was in connivance with certain judicial officers to abridge the democratic system and foist anarchy on the country.
He said: “Today, Thursday, May 19, 2022, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has just been made aware of a bizarre judgement 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 out-going Chairmen and Councillors of FCT Area Councils, which expires tomorrow, Friday, May, 20, 2022.
“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 Councillors and impose an undemocratic government in the FCT,” Ologunagba said.
On why the party rejected the judgment, the image maker said the Electoral Act 2022, upon which the judgement was based, cannot be made retroactive to apply to outgoing chairmen and councillors, who were elected under the 2010 Electoral Act which provided for a three-year tenure.
Ologunagba continued: “The PDP vehemently and without equivocation rejects the judgement in its entirety. This judgment cannot be executed as it is unconstitutional, illegal, baseless and devoid of any legal foundation and reasoning for implementation.
“This is because the four-year tenure provided for FCT Area Council Chairmen and Councillors in the newly enacted Electoral Act 2022, upon which the judgement is based, cannot be made retroactive to apply to outgoing Chairmen and Councillors who were elected under the 2010 Electoral Act which provided for a three-year tenure commencing from the date of their swearing in.
“The party noted that the intent of the judgement by Hon. Justice Ibrahim Mohammed is to make the law retroactive to illegally favour the out-going Chairmen and Councillors, 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.
“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.
“It is even more worrisome that the FCT High Court presided over by Hon. Justice Ibrahim Mohammed would allow itself to be used to a point where it can give a judgment which the judge knows or ought to know is illegal as no law can be made retroactive.
“Nigerians are invited to note that the Court gave judgement in this case with a set of individuals as Claimants and the Minister of the FCT as the Sole Defendant, leaving out 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.”
The PDP insisted that the judgment was a deliberate attempt to subvert the democratic process without regard to the consequential crisis and restiveness such portend in the FCT.
It also cautioned the APC that, the seamless transfer of power from one administration to another is the bedrock of democracy.
“The APC should know that any breakdown of Law and Order in the FCT on account of an attempt to muscle or abridge the right and the Will of the people will be inconsistent with that very fundamental principle of democracy, which is the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another,” PDP stated.
The PDP said the tenure of the outgoing chairmen and councillors, under the 2010 Electoral Act upon which they were sworn in, would effectively come to an end by the effusion of time on Friday, May 20, 2022, and urged them to steer clear of the respective Area Council offices from that date.
It called on the people of the FCT “to get ready for the swearing in of their new Chairmen and Councillors duly elected on February 12, 2022 as the party takes firm legal steps to address the attempt by the APC and Justice Ibrahim Mohammed to frustrate the Will of the people.”
The PDP urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to protect the integrity of the judiciary by immediately calling Justice Mohammed to order.