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FCT area council chairmen’s tenure ends 2026, says INEC


INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, has clarified that the tenure of the elected chairmen and councillors in the six Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory will come to an end in June 2026.

Yakubu made the clarification during a meeting with the leadership of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, in Abuja on Friday.

The meeting was convened to provide clarity on the tenure of the six area council chairmen and 62 councillors.

He noted that the commission had received numerous inquiries from various stakeholders questioning the tenure based on the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, which initially provided for a three-year term.

However, the INEC chairman clarified that the Electoral Act 2022, which came into force on February 25, 2022, extends the tenure to four years, aligning it with national executive and legislative elections.

The new Act was effective before the current officials took their oaths of office on June 14, 2022, thereby setting their tenure to expire in June 2026.

“Nigerians are aware that the National Assembly has since repealed and re-enacted the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) as the Electoral Act 2022. In particular, in the exercise of its powers as the lawmaking body for the FCT, the National Assembly extended the tenure of the Area Councils from three to four years, thereby aligning it with executive and legislative elections nationwide.

“This is one of the important provisions of the Electoral Act 2022. The Act came into force on Friday 25th February 2022, two weeks after the last area council elections in the FCT.

“By the time the elected chairmen and councillors were sworn in four months later on 14th June 2022, they took their oath of allegiance and oath of office based on the new electoral Act (i.e. the Electoral Act 2022) which provides for a four-year tenure. Consequently, their tenure therefore expires in June 2026,” he explained.

He emphasised that the tenure is determined by the date of the oath of office, not the date of election, citing several judicial authorities to support this interpretation.

“For the avoidance of doubt, tenure is not defined by the date of election but by the date of the oath of office for executive elections or the date of inauguration for legislative houses.

“For the executive, the tenure belongs to the elected individual while for legislators, the tenure belongs to the Legislature. A President/Vice President-elect, Governor/Deputy Governor-elect, Senator-elect, Member-elect, Chairman-elect or Councillor-elect cannot exercise the powers of office and draw from the remuneration attached to it until such a person is sworn in or the legislative house is inaugurated.

“To further illustrate this position, the Commission has since released the Timetable for the 2024 Edo and Ondo State Governorship elections. This does not mean that whoever wins the election in Edo State in September or in Ondo State in November will immediately assume office.

“This will only take place after the administration of the oath of office upon the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent holders of the offices. Elections are only held earlier to a avoid vacuum. That is why the Constitution empowers the Commission to hold elections not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the end of the tenure of incumbent holders of elective offices,” he stressed.

The INEC chairman further stated, “Again, there are several judicial authorities, including the judgment of the Supreme Court, that tenure begins from the date of oath of office and not the date of the election.

“The Law Firms that have written INEC on behalf of their clients ought to have drawn their attention to both the law and judicial pronouncements on the matter.

“You may also wish to note that when the Electoral Act 2022 was signed into law two weeks after the commission conducted the last Area Council elections in the FCT, the incumbent holders (Chairmen and Councillors) challenged us that we conducted the election too early, claiming that the new Electoral Act extended their tenure from three to four years.

“We reminded them that they took their oath of office under the old law before the coming into force of the new Electoral Act. Therefore, their tenure will expire in June 2022,.”

He reassured all that INEC was committed to upholding the law and would release the timetable and schedule of activities for the next Area Council elections by the required 360-day notice before the election date.

Yakubu urged all aspirants and political parties to adhere to the legal provisions and judicial pronouncements regarding tenure and reassured the public of INEC’s dedication to maintaining the integrity and stability of FCT elections.

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