Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), has said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cannot extend the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari beyond the statutory 2023 even if elections do not hold in the South-East region.
Adegboruwa said on Sunday that the warnings issued by INEC to arsonists burning its offices in the South-East should not translate into threats that the current government’s tenure could be extended if elections fail to hold in the South-East.
In a release, the human rights lawyer added that the situation in the North-East was worse in 2015 when the country held elections that brought in Buhari.
He said, “We are a nation governed by law and the most important one is the constitution. The tenure of the current President cannot be extended by one second; whether Nigeria burns or rain or brimstones fall from heaven. As long as we are still operating this constitution, the tenure of this president is predictable, it’s determined, it’s statutory; nobody has any power to extend it.
“Even if election does not hold, that will not lead to the extension of the tenure of the current President. The constitution is clear about what happens if election does not hold. Having said that, there is no reason why election should not hold in Nigeria. The situation we have in the South-East now is not as bad as what we had in the North-East in 2015 and elections held successfully then. So, it is possible to isolate particular zones and areas where there may be violence for election to hold in other areas where there is peace and when there is a return of peace, we can always go back to conduct elections in those places.
“The time lag for transition is so elongated in the constitution that nobody can use that (South-East situation) to birth a third-term agenda for the current President. It will not work. Let INEC not sell that dummy to anybody. Whether there are fifth columnists within this regime that are being paid to go and orchestrate violence in the South-East by burning INEC offices and whether even INEC headquarters in Abuja is burnt down, this current regime will expire in 2023!
“No Jupiter can extend that tenure! So, if anybody is doing that for the purpose of getting any illegal extension, they should better have a rethink because Nigerians will not accept it. We will not accept an extension of the tenure of this regime, we will not accept a military rule; we will not accept anything that will elongate this wickedness, suffering and violence! And it is not a new thing for us to demand that the tenure of this regime should end; if the President will not reward us with good governance, at least he can reward us with integrity by sticking to the oath that he took on the 29th of May 2019 when he was sworn in for second term.”
Adegboruwa added that there is no provision for being sworn in for third term, either by extension or failure to conduct election.
“So, for me, Nigerians are ready; we are not blind people and we are not daft. Whatever is going on in the South-East, in terms of INEC offices, all these press conferences that the INEC Chairman is holding and sending warnings, he is only warning himself; it doesn’t concern us as Nigerians. Whatever happens, this particular Muhammadu Buhari regime will come to an end in 2023. That idea (tenure extension) cannot hold water, nobody should sell it, nobody should dream about it, we will not accept it as a nation,” he added.