Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
The nation’s capital, Abuja, was on Friday thrown into several round of protests by residents following the controversial one-year tenure extension secured by the six Area Council Chairmen.
Supporters of the various council chairmen-elect on Friday took to the streets of Abuja to protest the suspension of the swearing in ceremony of new area council chairmen earlier scheduled for Friday.
From Giri Junction to the Permanent Site of the University of Abuja and the Area 11 office of the Federal Capital Territory FCT Minister, security personnel had a hectic time trying to control the crowd.
The decision to suspend the event was as a result of the judgment of an FCT High Court which granted a one-year tenure extension to the incumbent six Area Council Chairmen whose tenures end on Friday, May 20.
In March of 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC had conducted Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory, whereby Six Council Chairmen and their Councillors were elected.
These six Council Chairmen of the FCT were then inaugurated on the 20th of May 2019, under the 2010 Electoral Act and based on that Act, the tenure of the Chairmen would end on Friday and the new Chairmen, based on the elections held in February this year, were to be sworn in on 20th May 2022.
However, Bello said few days ago, the FCT Administration received communication of a judgment by a court in the FCT directing it to “suspend the inauguration of the new Chairmen, based on the fact that the current Chairmen’s tenure would end on Thursday 19th May 2022”.
According to the judgment, based on the recently signed Electoral Act 2022, which stipulates that the tenure of office of the Chairmen of the Area Councils in FCT would now be four years instead of three years, the existing Chairmen whose tenure were meant to expire on Thursday, have another one year to continue, based on the new law.
Chanting “FCT Minister, you must swear them in”, the protesters were equally armed with their placards which carried various inscriptions such as “FCT Minister, we know you obey the law swear in as enshrined in the constitution; “You were sworn in with the old Electoral Act, the new Chairmen should be sworn in with the new Electoral Act”, among others.
They also ensured that activities at the FCTA Secretariat were grounded as staff were neither allowed to gain entrance nor exit the premises.
At the moment, both the FCT minister and the Minister of state are out of the country as the protesters insisted they be addressed by one of them as well as ensure that their demands are met today.
In the Giri area, the protests nearly turned violent following the seeing up of fires on the Abuja-Lokoja highway, with many travellers stranded.