The Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun, has criticised Robert Clarke for calling President Muhammdau Buhari (retd.) to extend his tenure and fight security challenges in the nation.
He described Clarke’s comment as unconstitutional, immoral and a threat to the nation’s democracy.
Olanipekun noted that no provision in the constitution supports Clarke’s claim, stressing that in Section 135(3) of the Constitution, the election can only be shifted when the nation is at war with a foreign country.
Olanipekun noted that the current security challenge in the country could not be equated with war as enlisted under Section 135(3) of the constitution.
He, therefore, called on President Buhari to resist the call demanding the extension of his tenure after its expiration.
The former president of the Nigeria Bar Association noted that Clarke had condemned ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s bid for a third term but now supporting Buhari to engage in direct breach of the constitution.
Olanipekun said, “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 bedevilled 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 a breach of the constitution, as well as its spirit, tenor and letter. There is no gainsaying that the result of such a proposition would further compound the problem that we have steeped into and plunge us into 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 practising 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 undoubtedly aggravate our already compounded woes and terminate the survival of the present democratic adventure. It is apt to caution, applying the 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 May 29 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 do so.
“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 sure 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.”