President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the Constitution Fourth Alteration Bill which bars presidents and governors from being sworn into office more than twice.
According to the new law, any second-in-command , who has been sworn in to complete the tenure of an elected president or governor, cannot do more than a single fresh term.
The president’s senior special assistant on National Assembly (Senate), Ita Enang, who disclosed this in a statement, said, “The other one is Act or Bill number 16, which is now an Act, and the intent of that Act is to ensure that where a vice president succeeds that president or where a deputy governor succeeds a governor, he can no more contest for that office more than once. And the fact is that having taken the oath as president once, you can only contest for once again and no more. That is the intent of this amendment.”
President Buhari also assented to a bill which grants financial autonomy and independence to the State Houses of Assembly and to the Judiciary of the states.
Enang noted that, upon this assent, the amounts standing to the credit of the judiciary are to be now paid directly to the judiciary of those states. Also, the amounts standing to the credit of the Houses of Assembly of the respective states are now to be paid directly to the Houses of Assembly of the respective states for the benefit of the legislators and the management of the State Houses of Assembly. They will no longer be paid through the governors.
“This allows the State Houses of Assembly to operate like the National Assembly does because the National Assembly does not get its fund from the executive,” he stated.
LEADERSHIP Weekend reports that this law now grants full financial autonomy to both the judiciary and the Houses of Assembly at the state level.
Consequently, the law that bars persons from being sworn into elective offices thrice has ruled out the likes of former president Goodluck Jonathan from running for election in the 2019 general election and subsequently.
It would be recalled that Jonathan was first sworn in as president in May 2010 after the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
After completing Yar’Adua’s tenure, Jonathan contested and won the presidential election in 2011. He contested again in 2015 and lost, but with this new law, he ineligible to contest again.
Another possible casualty is the former governor of Oyo State, Adebayo Alao-Akala, who has been campaigning for the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the oncoming governorship primaries.
Alao-Akala was in January 2016 sworn in as governor following the purported impeachment of his principal, Senator Rasidi Adewolu Ladoja.
Ladoja however returned to office as governor in December 2006, following a judgment of the Supreme Court on November 11 which declared his impeachment null and void.
In 2007, Alao-Akala won the governorship election on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and sworn in for the second time. He also re-contested in 2011 but lost to the incumbent Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
Alao-Akala again contested for the same office in 2015 on the platform of Labour Party, and until yesterday he was preparing to vie in the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial primaries, having defected to the party in December 2017.
Another politician that this new law relates to is the Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Gaidam
The governor is fortunate to be serving out his last term in office which ends in 2019 after being sworn in on three different occasions.
Gaidam, who is former Yobe State deputy governor, was sworn in as governor in January 2009 following the death of Governor Mamman Ali.
Geidam was sworn in as the democratically elected governor on May 29, 2011 and again May 29, 2015, making it the third time he would be sworn into the office of governor.
LEADERSHIP Weekend recalls that Geidam had legal battles at both the conventional court and the election tribunal regarding his eligibility to contest in 2015 election even after he had already won the election.
It was the same with President Jonathan whose eligibility to vie again in 2015 was contested in court after he had been sworn in twice earlier.
Had this law been in place at the time, both men would not have been eligible to contest.
Enang further disclosed that another of the Act which has come into force is Constitution amendment number 21 which relates to the determination of pre-election matters.
The new law, according to him, has reduced the date and time of determining pre-election matters to ensure that pre-election matters in court do not extend to the time of the elections, or thereafter.
He revealed that the relevant sections of the constitution had been amended by this Act.
He said, “The other amendment is Bill number 9, now an Act, which gives the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) sufficient time to conduct by-elections.
“It has increased the number from seven to 21 days and generally widened the latitude of INEC to handle election matters upon vacancy occurring.”
The presidential aide noted that these four bills, in addition to the Not-Too-Young-To-Run-Act, had now become law after being assented to by Mr. President.
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