The Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), has described calls for tenure extension for President Muhammadu Buhari as unconstitutional, immoral and threat to the nation’s democracy.
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Robert Clarke, had in an interview on Tuesday on Arise TV, argued that President Buhari ought to extend his tenure for six months on account of the nation’s security challenges.
But Olanipekun on Wednesday countered that a president’s tenure can only be extended when the nation is at war with a foreign country as provided in Section 135(3) of the Nigerian Constitution.
Olanipekun, who wondered why Clarke, who condemned ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s bid for third term, would turn around to advice President Buhari to engage in direct breach of the constitution, said Buhari was not expected to deal with all 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 said the president should treat the advice with a pinch of salt, and to nip such proposition in the bud.
“In parenthesis, the President does not have the power to extend his tenure; no President has that power or vires to so do.
“The tenure was given to him by Nigerians and, as at the time of donating that tenure to him, the covenant between the donors and the donee was that in the first instance, it was for a term certain of four years; and upon renewal in 2019, it was for an extended term certain of four years; no more, no less.
“If, for example, as rightly surmised by Chief Robert Clarke, that Obasanjo did a ‘negative act’ by seeking a third term in office, wanting to goad the National Assembly into rubber stamping his unconstitutional bid, why then is the High Chief Clarke prompting PMB to follow the same illegal and undemocratic route?
“To my mind, this is a suggestion akin to advising PMB to embark on a third term bid or adventure like OBJ, who Chief Robert Clarke pointed out as having done a ‘negative act.’
“The celebrated case of Marwa V. Nyako (2012) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1296) 199 resolves all issues and doubts relating and pertaining to the certainty and sanctity of the eight-year maximum period permitted by the Constitution for a Chief Executive, either of the State or Federation.”