Tenure extension call unconstitutional, threat to democracy, Olanipekun warns
Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), has described as unconstitutional, immoral and threat to Nigeria’s democracy the call by Chief Robert Clarke (SAN) to President Muhammadu Buhari to extend his tenure on account of the nation’s insecurity.
The head of the highest body of law experts in the country argued in a statement, yesterday, in Abuja, that no provision in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) supports Clarke’s proposition, noting that the only situation where election could be shifted “is when the nation is at war with a foreign country as provided in Section 135(3).”
The one-time President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) contended that the current security challenge in the country could not be equated with strife envisaged in the law book, urging the Nigerian leader to resist every temptation to stay in power beyond his constitutional term of office.
Wondering why Clarke, who condemned ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s reported third term bid, would turn around to advise Buhari to engage in direct “breach of the Constitution,” Olanipekun, stated that the President was not under compulsion to deal with all of the nation’s challenges before vacating office.
He said: “I am afraid, I cannot agree with the postulations and prognosis of my learned friend of the Inner Bar (Clarke) as, same, with much respect to him, are not constitutional, legal, legitimate, moral, democratic, acceptable, reasonable, or in the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“While it is glaring that Nigeria is bedeviled by a mountain of daunting challenges, including insecurity, this cannot be any justification for a call for PMB or any President, howsoever, to extend his tenure outside the constitutionally provided maximum period of eight years as prescribed by the combined provisions of Sections 135(2) and 137(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
“With further respect, the suggestion is a direct call to breach of the Constitution, as well as its spirit, tenor and letter. There is no gainsaying the fact that the end result of such a proposition would further compound the conundrum that we have steeped into and, plunge us to a latent state of anomie.”
Olanipekun added: “It is quite disturbing, unfortunate and very worrisome that since 1999, Nigeria has been migrating from one problem to another, oscillating from one crisis to another, graduating from one degree of catastrophe to another, as a result of which the landscape has become a practising pitch for all sorts of theories, ideologies, ideas, suggestions, prognosis and hypothesis, the last of which has just come from the respected Chief Robert Clarke, SAN.”