A repeat of a Third Term agenda call which nearly ruined the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, which again resurfaced a few days ago, has continued to attract criticisms from well- meaning Nigerians.
From the political class to the Bar, Nigerians have continued to condemn advocates of a Third term tenure for President Mohamadu Buhari.
Two legal luminaries of Senior Advocate status have engaged themselves in argument over the legality of tenure elongation for the present administration.
President Buhari had waved aside the call for tenure elongation as he declared that 29th May, 2023 remains sacosant.
Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said it is unconstitutional, immoral and threat to the nation’s democracy the call by Robert Clarke (SAN), on President Muhamadu Buhari to extend his tenure on account of the nation’s security challenge.
Olanipekun, who currently heads the highest body of law experts in Nigeria (BoB), in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja pointed out that no provision in the Constitution supports Clarke’s proposition.
According to him, the only situation where election could be shifted is when the Nation is at war with a foreign country as provided in Section 135(3).
The former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), maintained that Nigeria is not at war at present that could justify that call.
The legal luminary stated that current security challenges in the country could not be equated with war envisaged under Section 135(3) of the Constitution and urged President Buhari to resist every temptation to stay in power at the expiration of his tenure.
Olanipekun, said that Clarke, who condemned former President Obasanjo’s bid for third term, is now advising President Buhari to engage in direct breach of the Constitution.
“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.
“It is quite disturbing, unfortunate, uncheering, and very worrisome that since 1999, Nigeria has been migrating from one problem to another, oscillating from one crisis to another; graduating from one degree of catastrophe to another; as a result of which the landscape has become a practicing pitch for all sorts of theories, ideologies, ideas, suggestions, prognosis and hypothesis, the last of which has just come from the respected Chief Robert Clarke, SAN.
“As stated earlier, this suggestion, if considered at all, how much being implemented, would no doubt aggravate our already compounded woes and terminate the survival of the present democratic adventure.
“It is apt to caution, applying the old adage: ‘ye deity, if you cannot improve or salvage my situation, leave me as you have met me.’
“To PMB, my honest, friendly, professional and civic advice is that he should treat this advice or any invitation to him to extend his tenure by a millisecond beyond 29th May, 2023, with a pinch of salt. It is in our collective interest if this proposition is nipped 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.”
Clarke shocked most Nigerians by his unsolicited suggestion of an elongation in office for President Buhari.