Council of State Has No Power To Postpone Elections, By Femi Falana
The Council of State is one of the Federal executive bodies established by Section 153(1) of the Constitution. The Council is constituted by the President as the Chairman, Vice President as the Deputy Chairman, all former Presidents and all former Heads of the Government of the Federation, all former Chief Justices, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Governors of the States, and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The Council is vested with the power to advise the President in the exercise of his powers with respect to:
i. National population census and compilation; publication and keeping of records and other information concerning the same
ii. Prerogative of mercy;
iii. Award of honours
iv. The Independent National Electoral Commission (including the appointment of members of that Commission).
v. The National Judicial Council (including the appointment of the members, other than ex officio members of that Council), and
vi. The National Population Commission (including the appointment of members of the Commission); and
b. advise the President whenever requested to do so on the maintenance of public order within the Federal or any part thereof and on such other matters as the President may direct.
From the foregoing it is crystal clear that the Council has no power to take a decision on any national policy but to advise the President in the exercise of his powers in the aforementioned matters.
With respect to the INEC the Council may advise the President in the exercise of his powers to appoint the Chairman of the INEC, the National Commissioners and the Resident Electoral Commissioners. Since the power of organizing and conducting the General Election including the fixing of dates for the election is the exclusive responsibility of the INEC the Council of State is not competent to advise the President or direct the INEC to postpone the General Election.
Mr. Falana, former President of the Africa Bar Association, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, is a public interest litigant and human rights attorney in Lagos.