All Progressives Congress, APC
, has vowed to go ahead with the conduct of its State congresses scheduled for July 31, 2021, despite legal concerns by some members of the party.
Members of the ruling APC and the nation’s political space were Wednesday thrown into anxiety and panic mode over an imminent legal clog to the success of the party’s congresses and national convention leading to the 2023 general elections
following a minority judgment at the Supreme court in the governorship election petition case between Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State of APC and Eyitayo Jegede of People’s Democratic Party.
Barristers Festus Keyamo and Kayode Ajulo, both prominent members of the party had called for the immediate resignation of the acting national chairman, Mai Mala Buni, and cancellation of the planned State congresses given that his double positions as national chairman and Yobe State governor contradicts section 183 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria and that of the party’s constitution and as such jeopardizes the fortune of the party in the future elections.
According to the dissecting judgment of three justices of the supreme court against four, the party erred and contravenes the constitution in allowing a sitting governor sit as its national chairman.
But the petition was dismissed given that the petitioner, Eyitayo Jegede , who was the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in the disputed election failed to join Mai Mala Buni and the party’s national secretary, Sen John James Akpanudoedehe, in the suit.
In his immediate reaction, Barr. Kayode Ajulo said, Without prejudice to the ratio decidendi of the majority decision of the Court, it is imperative to state prestissimo and very clearly too that with the unanimous position of the Apex Court that it appears the actions of the All Progressives Congress in permitting a sitting Governor as the Interim Chairman of the Party is in violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is my sincere view that the Interim Chairman of the All Progressive Congress should immediately step down.
“My humble but cosmic review of the judgment comes with an indication that the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni has to vacate his seat, as the Chairman of APC with immediate effect.
“The provision of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) is clear and unambiguous to the effect that “The Governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.”
On the other hand, Keyamo, in a statement attributed to him said, “The little technical point that saved Gov AKEREDOLU was that Jegede failed to join GOV. Mai Mala Buni in the suit.
“Jegede was challenging the competence of Gov. Mai Mala Buni as a sitting Governor to run the affairs of the APC as Chairman of the Caretaker Committee. He contends that this is against Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution which states that a sitting Governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever. In other words, had Buni been joined in the suit, the story may have been different today as we would have lost Ondo State to the PDP.
Therefore, any other person affected by the actions of the Buni-led Committee will henceforth not fail to join him in any subsequent case in court. These includes any subsequent election matter in any part of this country and all the APC Congresses that are about to hold. The Supreme Court has just weaponised all those that would be aggrieved by the APC Congresses to proceed to court to Challenge the competence of the Buni-led CECPC to organise the Congresses and National Convention.
Keyamo said, “The planned Congresses across the country slated for this weekend must immediately be suspended because it will be an exercise in futility as analysed above. The competence of Gov. Mai Mala Buni to organise the congresses has been called to question by the Supreme Court.
But reacting to the statements by Keyamo and Ajulo, one of the lead counsel to the APC in the petition, Chief Niyi Akintola SAN, described the statements as their personal opinions in interpreting the judgment.
Akintola, who is also a chieftain of the APC said the minority judgement is of no legal value as it cannot be cited in any case in court and can only remain in the realm of academic discourse.
He said the election petition had tribunal ruled that holding of party positions does not contravene section 183 of the constitution as being claimed by the petitioner and that position was what was upheld by the appeal and supreme court’s respectively.
National secretary to the caretaker committee, Sen John James Akpanudoedehe, in his reaction, said the party would go ahead with the congresses as scheduled and advised members of the party not to fear.