Buni: Confusion at APC secretariat as Buhari’s aides, Minister insist on dissolution of caretaker committee 

Posted by News Express | 30 July 2021 | 1,443 times

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Chieftains and stakeholders in the All Progressives Congress (APC) have continued to give divergent opinions and legal interpretations to the Supreme Court Justices pronouncements on the eligibility of the Yobe State governor and Chairman All Progressives Congress, Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, to hold both elective and party positions.

On Thursday, two of President Muhammadu Buhari’s aides joined the league of APC chieftains smarting for the dissolution of the APCECPC led by Governor Buni.

Checks revealed that the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in October 10, 2020, Ondo governorship election, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), in his petition had argued that Governor Buni, according to Section 183 of the constitution and article 17(4) of the APC, could not function both as governor and acting chairman of the APC concurrently.

His prayer was hinged on the fact that the acting National Chairman of the APC and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, was the one, who forwarded Akeredolu’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the candidate of the APC.

The PDP candidate submitted that Akeredolu’s nomination breached the law and as such, his election should be nullified.

Further investigation revealed that Justices Mary Peter-Odili, Justices Ejembi Eko and Ibrahim Saulawa in their minority judgments declared that Akeredolu’s election should have been nullified, while the appellants, (PDP and Jegede) declared winner of the October 20, 2020 governorship poll.

Justice Eko, further maintained that Buni violated the Constitution, when as a sitting governor, still acted as Chairman of the APC by submitting Akeredolu’s name to INEC for purposes of the governorship poll.

Against the backdrop of the minority judgments, a chieftain of the APC and Minister of State, Labour, Festus Keyamo,(SAN) in a private memo to the party stakeholders which had since gone viral called for a halt to the ward Congresses slated for Saturday while he equally demanded that machinery be set in motion to see to the exit of Governor Buni led CECPC from the party national secretariat.

The main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party spoke in a similar vein as it called for the dissolution of the interim leadership of its main rival, the APC.

In a joint statement on Thursday, Senators Babafemi Ojudu and Ita Enang,

Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, respectively asked stakeholders in the ruling party to shut the gate of the party national secretariat against Governor Buni and his team.

The duo argued that the minority judgment should not be disregarded as they claimed that it has far-reaching implications on the party in the face of forthcoming governorship elections in Anambra and other off-season elections.

They called for a halt to Saturday ward Congresses, slated to hold across the country.

“It has long been in contention whether unelected officers of a political party can exercise the powers of party vested in the Chairman and officers of the Party who ought, by Party’s Constitution to be elected at a duly convened convention of the Party at the National level and congresses at State and other levels.

“A cursory reading of the Minority judgment, we submitted, appears to have swept the carpet of legality off the CECPC rendering it illegal, null, void and of no legal capacity to undertake any action on behalf and in the name of the Party.

“It has also brought to question the legality of all the actions taken by her since inception. Accordingly, in view of the impending Ward, Local Government, States and Zonal Congresses and indeed the National Convention (which the CECPC was primarily set up to do), it is our view:

“That the Ward and other Congresses scheduled for July 31, 2021, be paused, suspended and put on hold pending the determination of the legal Status of the CECPC to undertake all the activities it so far has, and indeed jurisdiction to conduct the congresses and convention.”

Chief Adeniyi Akintola, (SAN) one of the lead counsels of the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu in the election petition decided in his favour on Wednesday by the Supreme Court however differed.

Addressing newsmen on Thursday at the party national secretariat in Abuja, Chief Akintola (SAN) faulted the position canvassed by Chief Keyamo(SAN) and certain chieftains of the party.

He told newsmen that no Court in the land would attach value to minority judgements as he noted that it was of no value.

He maintained that by the pronouncements of the Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal which was affirmed by the apex court, Governor Buni could combine both party and elective positions.

He said:” Let me make this clear: this isn’t the first time we would be having minority judgements. A minority judgement has no value. You can’t cite it as an authority. It has no effect.

“In 2008, Abubakar Atiku versus Sheu Musa Yar’Adua, there was minority judgements given by Justice George Oguntade, Justice Walter Onoghen and one other justice while Justice Niki Tobi delivered the majority judgement. So, there has always been precedence.

“There is no value attributed to minority judgement. So, what happened yesterday isn’t strange. So we are worried that some lawyers are attaching value to it. Section183, according to the justices wasn’t violated by Buni. That was the reasoning of the tribunal. The Court of Appeal even affirmed the election petition stance that Section 183 wasn’t breached.

“The Supreme Court upheld the position of Court of Appeal and the Election Petition Tribunal that Buni position as governor doesn’t contravene provisions of Section 183. The Congress can go on as scheduled. There was nowhere the majority judgment says Buni breached section 183. The minority judgments are of no value, it has no consequences,” he said.

Also speaking at the media briefing, the national secretary of the party, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe maintained that the party faithful has nothing to worry about. He assured that the ward Congresses fixed for Saturday would not be halted.

He further alleged that certain aggrieved chieftains of the party are anxious to cause confusion and instigate crisis in the party by giving a conflicting interpretation to the judgement of the Supreme Court.

“Some people want to use the judgement to vent their anger. I want to assure you that the Congresses will be held across the country. We shall be fair to all, and be firm. We remain committed and loyal to the Buhari administration. We won’t be used to bring down the government of Buhari. We would hold the Congresses as scheduled.”

Deputy Senate President and Senator representing Delta Central, Ovie Omo Agege aligned with the position of Chief Akintola (SAN) and Senator Akpanudoedehe.

In a statement that he personally signed and made available to newsmen in Abuja, the Deputy Senate President said the party has no reason to entertain any fear over the eligibility of Governor Buni to hold a party and elective positions, concurrently.

His statement read in part: “Without much ado, it is important to state that the majority decision of the Supreme Court in Jegede’s case, emphatically dismissed the appeal and did not consider the issue of the provisions of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution, neither did the majority decision make any comments on the competence of Governor Mai Mala Bumi as the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee. The appeal was dismissed on the ground of competence or lack thereof for the non-joinder of a necessary party to the suit at the lower court.

“It is therefore disingenuous, unsound and mischievous, to attempt to misinform the reading public of what was not the ratio decidendi of the judgment of the court. Even if the apex court had considered the provisions of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution, the majority panel would still have dismissed the appeal.

“Having established the above point, it is necessary to proceed to clear the gross misconception of the provisions of section 183 of the 1999 Constitution.

“The sole question that begs for consideration is whether the appointment of Governor Mai Mala Bumi as the APC Caretaker Committee Chairman offends the provisions of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)?

“In answering the above question, it is pertinent to reproduce the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) as follows: The governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.

“In view of the foregoing constitutional provisions, the question becomes: Is the appointment of a Governor to Chair a Caretaker Committee of his political party, same not being an ‘Executive Office’ in respect of which he is to be paid remuneration, incompetent? Can it be said that a State Governor who is the Chairman of the Governors Forum of Nigeria is occupying an ‘Executive office’? Can it also be argued that the President cannot be appointed as the Chairman of the Africa Union?

“From the explicit provision of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is absolutely impossible and untenable to argue that the provisions of Section 183 bars a Governor from being a Chairman or member of a Caretaker Committee set up by his or her political party. More so, the position of the Chairman of a Caretaker Committee cannot by any sense of imagination, logic or simple common sense be classified as being a salaried Executive office.

“It is important at this point to restate the fact, that the Caretaker Committee was duly constituted by the NEC of the party and given a specific mandate to put necessary measures in place to conduct a seamless elective National Convention.

“There is no law under our legal jurisprudence that bars or prohibits a Governor who is a member of a political party and won elections under the political party from carrying out specific assignments on behalf of his party. How this will amount to holding an Executive office is beyond every stretch of human comprehension.

“In the light of the foregoing exposition, it is humbly and firmly stated that Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) only bars a Governor from holding Executive positions like being a Minister, or any other executive positions for which he shall be paid for. It does not by any scintilla of imagination, render the appointment of Governor Bumi as APC Caretaker Committee Chairman incompetent and will not in any way, affect the legality or competence of the APC scheduled Congresses,” he said.

(Nigerian Tribune)

Source: News Express

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