May 29 must remain presidential inauguration date, Ekweremadu insists

OrderPaperToday – The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has lauded the move by President Muhammadu Buhari of declaring June 12 as Democracy Day.
According to Ekweremadu, this would serve as a good development for the country, saying all injustices across the country should be addressed.
But in a statement released by his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu, Ekweremadu warned against the shift from May 29 to June 12.
He indicated that the change should not be mistaken as an extension of tenure for the President and Governors.
He stressed that there must be necessary amendments effected in the Constitution for the move to be legal.
 
He said: “This is a good day for Nigeria. I think that we must commend the President that finally, we are beginning to address injustices in this country. Our prayer is that this must be sustained.
 
“We must address the injustices all over the country. For those complaining about environmental degradation, marginalisation, the killings or any kind of injustice, this is time for us to address it because any country that sustains injustice is heading for major crisis, so, we must address all the injustices in this country.
 
“Let me also say that I support the proposal by Senator Olujimi that the results of the June 12 election need to be declared because it is mere perception that MKO Abiola won the election. INEC has to announce the figures and let it be on record that Abiola was President and Kingibe was Vice President. It is good for us to have that record.”
Buttressing on two legal issues he raised on change of date for democracy day, the deputy senate president, he said: “There are two legal issues involved. The provisions of Section 135(2)(b) of our Constitution on the tenure of the president, because they are now saying that June 12 is now the Democracy Day deposing that, that means that in 2019, the President will be sworn-in on the 12th of June.
“This is legally impossible because the law says that subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a person shall hold the office of the President until (a) when his successor in office takes the oath of that office; (b) he dies whilst holding that office; (c) the date when his resignation from office takes effect; or (d) he otherwise ceases to hold office in accordance with the provisions of this constitution.
 
“Section 135 (2) says: ‘Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this Section, the President shall vacate his office at the expiration of a period of four years commencing from the date, when (a) in the case of a person first elected as President under this Constitution, he took Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of Office; and (b) in any other case, the person last elected to that under this Constitution took the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office or would, but for his death, have taken such oaths’.
 
“The implication, therefore, is that, the 29th of May remains the day the President will be inaugurated and he will take his Oath of Office. If we are moving from 29th May to 12th of June, it means that we will have to amend this Constitution. Otherwise, we would be extending the tenure of a President beyond what the Constitution contemplates.”
He advised on these amendments so that there won’t be a “constitutional lock jam when we get to next year.”
Finally, he added: “It is important that this point be put in true perspective that the issue of the tenure of office of the President is from the 29th of May 2015 to 29th May 2019. We cannot extend it to 12th of June without amending the Constitution.”
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