FCT politicians kick against February 12 election date
Cyril Mbah, Abuja
Some politicians in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have kicked against the February 12, 2022 date fixed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the Abuja Area Council Elections saying it was not enough time was not given to resolve disputes arising from party congresses and for campaigns.
INEC fixed February 12, 2022 as election date for the six area councils of the Federal Capital Territory to fill the positions of chairmen and councillors that will become vacate as a result of tenure expiration as it affects serving political office holders.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, while disclosing details of the election in a statement said the three-year tenure of the six chairmen and 62 councillors would expire in May 2022.
The statement said : “By virtue of Section 108 (1) & (3) and 113 (1)(a) and (b) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), election into all area councils shall be held on the same date and time throughout the FCT. This shall take place not less than 150 days before and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of that office.
“Furthermore, by section 113 of the Electoral Act, an area council shall stand dissolved at the expiration of a three year period, starting from the date the chairman took the oath of office, or when the legislative arm of the council was inaugurated, whichever is earlier.
“The chairman and councillors of the area councils were elected on March 9, 2019, and sworn in on the May 19, 2019 and by paragraph 1© of the commission’s guidelines and regulations, “where the end of the tenure of FCT Area Council does not coincide with a general election year, the election to the office of the chairman, vice-chairman and councillors of the area councils shall hold on Saturday closest to 100 days to the end of the tenure of the elected officials of the area councils.”
Okoye further explained that the commission was concerned about the spate of acrimonious primaries, as well as the nomination of unqualified candidates, which results in avoidable litigations, and the nullification of elections by-election petition tribunals.
He advised political parties to conduct rancour-free primaries, guarantee a level playing field for all aspirants and conduct necessary due diligence on all forms and documents that would be submitted to the commission.
The commissioner again urged registered political parties to pay close attention to the timelines and schedule of activities outlined in the timetable and schedule of activities as they are constitutional and statutory provisions.
FCT is the only part of the country where INEC is responsible for the conduct of local council elections.
While calling for change in the date of elections, an All Progressive Party (APC) chairmanship aspirant in Abaji, Alhaji Mohammed Angulu Loko, who spoke to newsmen on behalf of aggrieved APC chairmanship aspirants, now challenging in court the decision of the party to submit the names of persons who were not declared winner in the primaries, said holding the elections before the conclusion of the cases in court will amount to injustice.
Loko said the aggrieved APC members have forwarded a petition to INEC stating their position and asking for a shift in election date to give room for the conclusion of the court cases.
However, a prominent APC elder in the FCT and former House of Representatives member, Alhaji Zakari Angulu Dobi faulted the decision of the aspirants to petition the INEC seeking the postponement of the election.
Alhaji Zakari Angulu Dobi reminded the petitioners that the tenure of the executive chairmen will end in May next year and stated that INEC will be violating the constitution by yielding to their demands to shift the date of the election.
Also speaking on the matter, the FCT Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP], Mr. Sunday Zaka Dogo appealed to the Independent Electoral Commission to ignore any request for the postponement or cancelation of the February election and resist pressures to do anything contrary to the constitution.
He said the PDP has upgraded its preparedness for the election and will oppose every effort or plans to thwart the will of the people through illegal shift in the election date.