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INEC Clarifies Confusion On Tenure of Local Government Chairmen

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has clarified the tenure duration for Area Council Chairmen and Councillors in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), emphasising adherence to the Electoral Act 2022.

Speaking at a meeting with the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Abuja, INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu outlined the legal framework governing the tenure of current officeholders.

Yakubu informed stakeholders that the Electoral Act 2022 superseded the previous provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), extending the tenure of FCT Area Council Chairmen and Councillors from three years to four years.

He stressed that this extension aligns with executive and legislative elections nationwide.

Addressing concerns raised by various parties and stakeholders, Yakubu stated, “The Act guarantees a four-year tenure for the Chairmen and Councillors, not the three years provided in the Electoral Act 2010.”

He highlighted that the current incumbents’ tenure, which began with their oath of office under the new law on June 14, 2022, will conclude in June 2026.

Yakubu said: “Nigerians are aware that the National Assembly has since repealed and re-enacted the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) as the Electoral Act 2022.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 law-making 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 on the basis of 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.

“For the avoidance of doubt, tenure is not defined by the date of election but 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.

The INEC Chairman recounted inquiries received from law firms, individuals, political parties, and aspirant forums regarding the tenure duration and election timetable for the FCT Area Councils.

He clarified that elections are scheduled based on the expiration of incumbent tenures, not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the end of their terms.

Yakubu emphasised the Commission’s commitment to upholding electoral laws and ensuring democratic processes, noting the exemplary conduct of previous Area Council elections in the FCT.

He reassured stakeholders of INEC’s readiness to release the election timetable and schedule of activities in due course, urging political parties and aspirants to abide by legal provisions and judicial precedents regarding tenure issues.

In response, IPAC National Chairman Yusuf Mohammed Dantalle expressed appreciation for the clarification, affirming stakeholders’ commitment to electoral guidelines and legal frameworks. He underscored the importance of adhering to the rule of law and promoting electoral stability in the FCT.

The meeting concluded with stakeholders acknowledging INEC’s role in maintaining electoral integrity and ensuring transparent processes in the upcoming FCT Area Council elections.

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