A Nigerian parliamentary panel says the president should be allowed three terms in office, up from the current limit of two.

If approved by the full parliament, the move could clear the way for President Olusegun Obasanjo to seek re-election when his current term expires next year.

Senators reviewing the constitution made the recommendation late Thursday during a meeting in the city of Port Harcourt.

However, the committee did not specify whether the three-term mandate would start with current office holders.

Senators opposed to the recommendation staged a walk-out, with some saying the president's office has scripted the review process.

One warned that the move could increase internal tensions, and leave Nigeria with a bad president for up to 12 years at a time.

President Obasanjo was first elected in 1999 and re-elected in 2003. He has not said whether he would seek another term. But his supporters have been pushing for a constitutional change that would make it possible.

In announcing the recommendation, Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu said the review committee is trying to "harmonize" the constitution with the views of the Nigerian public.

The committee held public hearings in six Nigerian cities last month.