A human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), on Wednesday said he would challenge the legal validity of the proposed tenure elongation for local government chairmen and councilors in Lagos State.
Falana made this known in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
NAN reports that the Local Government Amendment Bill, 2013, is being debated by members of the Lagos State House of Assembly.
It states: “Not withstanding the provisions of Sections 12(1) and 27(3), Councillors and Chairmen of Local Government Areas that were sworn in prior to the commencement of this Law may hold office for the term prescribed by this Law.”
Falana said the extension of the tenure of the chairmen and councilor, under any guise, was illegal and immoral.
He said: “With respect, the proposal is illegal in every material particular.
“It has to be withdrawn or struck down in the overall interest of the people of Lagos State who are due to participate in fresh local government election in October 2013.
“As the chairmen and councillors were elected in October 2010 for a fixed period of three years, their term of office will expire in October 2013.
“However, if the Local Government Law is amended to provide for a four-year tenure for chairmen and councillors, the amendment cannot benefit the current chairmen and councillors, whose term of office is for three years.”
The human rights lawyer maintained that the action of the Lagos Assembly was a dangerous precedence capable of truncating the nation’s democracy.
Falana said: “We urge members of the Lagos State House of Assembly to jettison the proposed elongation of the tenure of chairmen and councillors of local government councils in Lagos State forthwith.
”However, if the dangerous Bill is passed by the House and signed into law by Gov. Babatunde Fashola, we shall not hesitate to challenge its validity in court without any further notice.”
Another Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Jiti Ogunye, also condemned the proposal to elongate the tenure of the council chairmen and councillors.
Ogunye told NAN in an interview that the action of the legislators would deprive the electorate in the state the right to periodic elections as guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution.
He said:”If there is a bill that enables democratically elected persons to continue to be in office after the expiration of their tenures, and without any election, that bill is unconstitutional.”
Ogunye advised the lawmakers to channel their energy towards other issues that would be beneficial to the people of their constituencies, rather than engaging in unconstitutional actions.
By Funke Busari/Ikeja