June 12: Lawyers disagree on Buhari's assent to bill on new Democracy Day
Jun. 12, 2019
- President Buhari has been commended for assenting to the bill making June 12 Democracy Day and a public holiday
- However, lawyers have expressed divergent views over the matter
- Some are of the opinion that inauguration should remain May 29 without a public holiday while June 12 can be a public holiday
Lawyers have shared varying opinions over President Muhammadu Buhari's assent to the bill on June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria.
Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) said any attempt to elongate the tenures of the president and state governors beyond the existing May 29 inauguration date could lead to constitutional controversy, Daily Trust reports.
He said: “Even if you amend the constitution, you can’t give more time to people that have just started their own tenures on May 29. It’s not possible to take a retroactive effect. The way I see it is that June 12 will remain a symbolic Democracy Day, inauguration will remain May 29.”
The lawyer called for a a consensus on how the transition could be attained in 2023 and the future.
Also speaking, Lagos-based constitutional lawyer, Barrister Jiti Ogunye, said the federal government should consolidate the May 29 public holiday and the June 12 democracy day to avoid a constitutional lacuna.
He also called for an extension of the tenure of the newly sworn in lawmakers, saying once May 29 and June 12 are consolidated by a constitutional amendment, the tenure of the members of the National Assembly could then be extended by some days.
“If we have two days of holiday – one inauguration day and the second democracy day, we need a kind of consolidation of the two holidays. Once we observe this day, the NASS can by constitutional amendments legislate on the subject regardless of the fact that they were sworn in on May 29 and have their tenure extended by some days so that June 12 will be marked as inauguration and democracy day holiday," he said.
On his part, Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) said inauguration should remain May 29 without a public holiday while commemoration would hold on June 12. He added that it would not require any tenure elongation for occupants of the offices.
“And that should not mean that people would not work. Then on June 12, there would be public holiday. There would be no tenure elongation. There is no legal quagmire here.
"Not all elected governors are sworn in on May 29. There are staggered elections in Ondo, Osun, Edo, Ekiti, Bayelsa and Anambra,” he said.
According to him, the idea of different dates for inauguration also applied in the United States and other advanced democracies.
President Buhari had on Monday, June 10, signed into law the public holiday amendment bill, making June 12 of every year a national public holiday and Democracy Day. This came 48 hours to the first official celebration of June 12, as Democracy Day in Nigeria.
Presidential aide, Senator Ita Enang, explained that the newly amended law allows public holiday to be declared on June 12, every year while May 29th will no longer be public holiday.
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