Chaos Imminent As PDP Defies FCT Minister’s Order On Swearing-In Of Chairmen -Elect
The People’s Democratic Party, PDP, has told newly elected Council Chairmen and Councillors to get ready to be sworn in on Friday (tomorrow) in defiance of an order of the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello, on Thursday (today).
The Minister had announced that based on a court decision, the planned inauguration of elected council chairmen and councillors would no longer go ahead on Friday.
The tenures of the council chairmen and councillors end today (Thursday).
In a statement personally signed by the minister, he said “as a law-abiding government, the FCT Administration has no option but to suspend the planned inauguration of the six Area Council Chairmen of the Federal Capital Territory who were duly elected some weeks ago as a result of this injunction of the court.”
The PDP in a press conference by its spokesman, Debo Ologunagba, however, said it is “a very dangerous design by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in connivance with certain judicial officers to abridge our democratic system and foist anarchy in our country,” and told the elected council chairmen and councillors to get ready to be inaugurated.
The party 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.
“The PDP vehemently and without equivocation rejects the judgement in its entirety. This judgment cannot be executed as it unconstitutional, illegal, baseless and devoid of any legal foundation and reasoning for implementation,” the party said.
As a justification, the party said the four years 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.
It added that, “Alarmingly, the intent of this 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,” the party stated.
It expressed worry 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 is persuaded to believe that the judgment is a deliberate attempt to subvert the democratic process without regard to the consequential crisis and restiveness such portend in the FCT.
“The seamless transfer of power from one administration to another is the bedrock of democracy which the PDP is noted for having peacefully transferred power to the present APC-led government in 2015.
“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.
“Moreover, we hope this is not an attempt to lay a foundation to use the court to actualize a veiled third term agenda being rumoured. The APC should know that such will be firmly resisted by Nigerians.”
The party cautions the outgoing Chairmen and Councillors whose tenure under the 2010 Electoral Act upon which they were sworn in will effectively come to an end by the effusion of time on Friday, May 20, 2022 to steer clear of the respective Area Council offices from that date.
The PDP 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 “our Party takes firm legal steps to address the orchestrated attempt by the APC and Justice Ibrahim Mohammed to frustrate the Will of the people.”
It further urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to protect the integrity of the judiciary by immediately calling Hon. Justice Ibrahim Mohammed to order, especially for violating the CJN’s persistent admonitions to judges not to open themselves to political manipulations.
It noted that Hon. Justice Ibrahim Mohammed by the judgment has brought the institution of the Judiciary into disrepute.
“Our party will ensure that this illegal judgment is set aside as well as take firm steps against Justice Ibrahim Mohammed including referring his conduct which is unbecoming of a judicial officer to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for sanction so as to restore the confidence Nigerians have on the very respected institution of the Judiciary.”