The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, has suspended the inauguration of the six newly-elected area council chairmen and councilors scheduled for today.
The minister said this was due to a court’s judgment, directing the administration to suspend the inauguration of the new chairmen.
The tenure of the outgoing chairmen expired on Thursday but Justice Ibrahim Mohammed of FCT High Court ordered that their tenure should be extended by one year in line with the Electoral Act 2022.
The Act stipulates that the tenure of office of the chairman of FCT Area Councils would now be four years instead of three years.
The minister, in a statement he personally signed, said: “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.
“While complying, we are also making efforts to vacate the judgment and if the need arises, to appeal the judgment, so that the correct position of the law will be determined by the legal processes.”
But in a swift reaction, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rejected the suspension and asked the chairmen and councilors-elect to prepare for swearing-in.
Debo Ologunagba, PDP National Publicity Secretary, while addressing newsmen yesterday in Abuja, said: “The PDP vehemently and without equivocation rejects the judgement in its entirety. This judgment cannot be executed as it is unconstitutional, illegal, baseless and devoid of any legal foundation and reasoning for implementation.”
The Executive Director of Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), Dr Ibrahim Zikirullahi, said the suspension of the inauguration was done in bad faith just because the newly elected area council executives are largely from the opposition party.
“In a way, this is a subtle annulment of the area council election by the FCTA. I don’t think the suspension holds water. A court order cannot be implemented retroactively. In fact, the newly elected officials of the area councils should be the beneficiaries of the extension order granted by the court,” Zikirullahi said.
By Abbas Jimoh & Baba Martins