The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) led by the minister in charge of the capital city has suspended the inauguration of the newly elected chairpersons and councillors of the six council areas in the Nigeria’s capital.
The newly elected officials were scheduled to be inaugurated on Thursday, the day the tenure of the outgoing officials was expected to come to an end.
But announcing the suspension of the inauguration in a statement on Thursday, the minister of the FCT, Muhammad Bello, said the decision was taken decision in line with a court order.
The court order, according to the minister, extended the tenure of the existing local council officials from three to four years based on the provision of the new amended Electoral Act.
The minister said, by virtue of the court order, the existing chairpersons and councillors, whose original three-year tenure was expected to end on Thursday would now stay in office for an additional year.
“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 their 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,” the minister’s statement
The minister said the FCTA, as a law-abiding government, “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.”
But he said the administration was not satisfied with the judgement, and would appeal against it at the Court of Appeal.
“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,” he stated.
The minister called on residents to be calm, law abiding “and to await the outcome of the legal processes.”
He added, “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.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted the chairmanship and councillorship elections in all the six council areas of the FCT on February 12, 2022.
The council areas are Abaji, Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kuje, Kwali and Abuja Municipal (AMAC).
Over 400 candidates and their running mates contested for the six chairmanship positions – one for each area council – and available 62 councillorship positions in the council areas.
The candidates vied for the offices on the platforms of 14 political parties.
At the end of the elections, the two major parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won three councils apiece. While APC won in Gwagwalada, Kwali and Abaji, PDP won in AMAC, Bwari and Kuje.