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Olanipekun Blasts Clarke

Eminent lawyer, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) has lambasted Robert Clarke (SAN) for calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to extend his tenure.

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 the fact that the end result of such a proposition would further compound the conundrum that we have steeped into and, plunge us to 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 no doubt aggravate our already compounded woes and terminate the survival of the present democratic adventure. It is apt to caution, applying the old 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 29th May 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 so do.”

“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 certain 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.”

For those who don’t know, this was what Clarke said:

“The Constitution provides that the President can stay longer than eight years. I’ve always said it. It is in the Constitution.”

“If the situation in which we’re in now continues, and it is impossible to vote in the 2023 election, the Constitution says if a situation persists, the President will write INEC in view of all insurgencies, in view of kidnappings, in view of Boko Haram, I don’t think in these different areas of Nigeria, we can have a good election.”

“The Constitution says I am going to stay for six months and in the first instance. So, the fact that the Constitution says the president cannot stay for more than eight years is wrong. Because the same constitution says he can be giving himself six months if those conditions persist.”

“Now, I don’t see any green light. I don’t see how what is happening today can be stopped within a period of six months from today or before February next year when the elections will be held.”

“The alternative then is for Mr. President to continue as president, allow the security watches to carry up the mopping up and Nigeria will become stable.”

“Because I swear to God Almighty, without stability in Nigeria, without security, Nigeria is going nowhere. No foreigner will bring his money and put in any business in Nigeria when he knows that any of his expatriates who are sent to Nigeria can be kidnapped at any time. So, until all these things are sorted out, I don’t see any green light.”

“If nothing happens before the elections, God forbids, this country will be in flames.”

“I am 84 years old, and I can assure you I’ve had the best time in my life, both in my legal practice, in my social life, in every aspect of life, but I can assure you, that those days are gone by. Since 1999, I have not been a happy man, the way and manner Nigeria has been moved.”

“For instance, look at our first President, Obasanjo with due respect. What was the first negative act he did? I want a third term. Can you imagine? But he says, oh, it’s not me who wants it, is my friend who are asking me to go for a third term.”

“That is how we started 1999 constitution by looking for loopholes to breach the Constitution. I don’t see any green light for Nigeria. And if we’re not careful, if we’re not careful…the only consolation is this.”

“The same Constitution has made politics become not only very attractive, but the only lucrative business in Nigeria today.”

“What this means is that any election that holds under the present scenario will end up producing transactional and recycled leaders, with no ability to turn things around.’’

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