More than 24 hours after a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sitting in Kubwa district reversed itself and ordered the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory to swear in newly elected local government chairmen and councillors, the Minister has not obeyed, and it is raisingng the temperature of supporters.
A vast crowd has been around the minister’s office in Area 11 of Garki district, awaiting the swearing-in.
Justice Mohammed Ibrahim, who initially issued the order that stopped Minister Muhammad Bello from swearing the elected officials, on Thursday set aside the judgment given in favour of tenure elongation for the six FCT Area Council chairmen and their councilors elected in 2019 for a three-year tenure.
Three weeks ago on May 18, 2022, the FCT High Court in Kubwa district suspended the swearing-in of the newly elected chairmen and the councillors, claiming they were entitled to an extra year based, according to him, on a provision of the Electoral Act 2022.
There was confusion in Abujs and the legal team of the Federal Capital Territory Authoriyy (FCTA) sought clarification.
On Thursday, the judge clarified that everyone is in a learning process, that humans are bound to make mistakes and also bound to make corrections.
He said that it was very clear that some mistakes were made and a judgment was entered, which brought a lot of issues concerning the elongation of the tenure of the outgoing chairmen in the six area councils.
He subsequently vacated his first judgment and directed that the new Area Council chairmen who were elected and issued certificates of return be sworn-in by the FCT Minister immediately.
In a statement he personally signed three weeks ago, Minister Mohammad Bello, who has been accused of keeping dethroned area councils chairmen and councillors in place, because his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), lost some of the seats to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), especially the chairmanship of the Abuja Municipal Area Council, made up of the city centre, where the nation’s seat of power is, stated: “As you are all aware, in March of 2019, we held the Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory, whereby six council chairmen and councillors were elected after a very competitive and rigorous process.
“These six council chairmen of the FCT were then inaugurated on the 20th of May 2019, under the 2010 Electoral Act. Based on that Act, the tenure of the Chairmen would end today and the new Chairmen, based on the elections held in February this year, would be sworn in on 20th May 2022.
“But a few days ago, we received communication of a judgment by a court in the Federal Capital Territory directing us to suspend the inauguration of the new Chairmen, based on the fact that the current Chairmen’s tenure would end today, 19th May 2022.
“According to the judgment, based on the recently signed Electoral Act of 2022, which stipulates that the tenure of office of the Chairmen of the Area Councils in FCT would now be four years instead of three years, the existing Chairmen whose tenure were meant to expire or end today, have another one year to continue, based on the new law.
“So, as a law-abiding government, the FCT Administration has no option than 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.
“Also, as an administration that is very conscious of the need to abide by the rule of law, even though we are not satisfied with the judgment of the court, we have no option but to comply.
“While complying, we are also making efforts to vacate the judgment and if need arises, to appeal the judgment, so that the correct position of the law will be determined by the legal processes.
“In the interim therefore, we are very conscious of the fact that the stand of the court has raised a lot of concerns within certain sections of the Federal Capital Territory residents. I wish to appeal to everyone to be calm, to be law abiding and to await the outcome of the legal processes.
“FCT is a creation of law. The FCT has always been known to be a place of unity, peace and good governance and populated by law abiding residents. Please let us continue the way we are and await the court processes. At the end of the court processes, the clear direction of what needs to be done would be clearly stated and then as an administration, we will do the needful.”