FCT Council Chairmen’s Tenure Expires in 2026 – FCT clarifies

According to the INEC Chairman, the tenure of office of the elected officers begins on the date of taking oath of office, not the date of conduct of election.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has clarified that the council chairmen and councillors in the Federal Capital Territory would remain in office till 2026.

The Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the clarification at a meeting with the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) on Friday in Abuja, following the agitation for the conduct of fresh elections in the FCT.

According to the INEC Chairman, the tenure of office of the elected officers begins on the date of taking the oath of office, not the date of conduct of the election.

He explained that the National Assembly has since repealed and re-enacted the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which provided for a three-year tenure for Chairmen and Councillors as the Electoral Act 2022.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,” Yakubu said.

He further explained that in the case of the FCT, Section 108(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 under which the current Chairmen and Councillors were sworn-in on 14th June 2022, is clear and therefore unambiguous.

“(1) An Area Council shall stand dissolved at the expiration of 4 years commencing from the date – (a) when the Chairman took the oath of office; or (b) when the legislative arm of the Council was inaugurated whichever is earlier,” the INEC chief noted.

Yakubu noted that there are several judicial authorities, including the judgement of the Supreme Court, that tenure begins from the date of oath of office and not the date of the election.

He said, “You may also wish to note that when the Electoral Act 2022 was signed into law two weeks after the Commission conducted the last Area Council elections in the FCT, the incumbent holders (Chairmen and Councillors) challenged us that we conducted the election too early, claiming that the new Electoral Act extended their tenure from three to four years.

“We reminded them that they took their oath of office under the old law before the coming into force of the new Electoral Act. Therefore, their tenure will expire in June 2022.

“I wish to reassure you that we are aware of our responsibilities under the law. Section 28(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 requires the Commission to release the Timetable and Schedule of Activities 360 days (i.e. One year) before the date fixed for the election. It cannot be released two years ahead of the elections.

“As you are all aware, the Area Council election in the FCT conducted by INEC remains a model for Local Government elections in the country. There is stability of tenure for Chairmen and Councillors.

“There has never been a caretaker committee in any Area Council in the FCT. Democratic elections are conducted on a regular basis. There is a plurality of electoral outcomes as no single political party has ever won elections in all the 68 Constituencies (six Area Council Chairmen and 62 Councillors).

“We will continue to uphold the sanctity of tenure and improve the credibility of these elections.”

The INEC Chairman appealed to all persons with the ambition to contest for the positions of Chairmen and Councillors in the FCT to be guided by the provisions of the law and judicial pronouncements on the issue of tenure.

He also appealed to political parties to enlighten their members accordingly, adding that at the appropriate time, the Commission will release the timetable and schedule of activities for the election.

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