Judgement: APC has reasons to worry over National Convention — Lawyers

Posted by News Express | 9 October 2022 | 523 times

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Indications have emerged that the Convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which brought the Abdullahi Adamu led National Working Committee (NWC) into office may be declared null and void.

That is no thanks to the recent Federal High Court, Abuja, ruling which nullified the candidacy of the Governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola and his deputy in the governorship election of the state held July 16, 2023.

Some lawyers, who spoke with Sunday Telegraph in different interviews while reacting to the ruling said it was dangerous.

An Abuja Lawyer, Dr. Abdul Mahmud noted that APC was walking on a legal slippery slope.

He said: “The Constitution is about the fact that the headship of the Caretaker Committee by a sitting Governor holding dual executive offices is prohibited by Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution and even by Article 17(4) of the APC Constitution, 2014 (as amended)”.

In his own reaction, Chief Iheke Solomon, noted that Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Friday 30th September 2022, nullified the nomination of Governor Oyetola and his Deputy, Benedict Alabi, as candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the just concluded governorship election in Osun State.

“In the said judgment in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/468/2022, the former Acting Chairman of the APC and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni and four others were defendants, who were held by the Court to have acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally by signing and submitting the nomination papers of Oyetola and his deputy to INEC in violation of the provisions of Section 183 of the CFRN 1999 (as amended) and Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act 2022.

“That by the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution, the Governor of Yobe State and the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of APC, econowas precluded from holding dual executive positions as the Governor of Yobe State and the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of APC, simultaneously.

“Accordingly, all the steps, decisions and activities of the Buni led caretaker committee of APC, in law null and void.

“Over a year or so ago, the Supreme Court in Ondo Governorship election litigation gave a foreboding decision that foretells the legal crisis awaiting APC concerning Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee of the party.

“The controversy over Buni’s status as APC chairman had taken a worrisome dimension earlier in July, when the minority judgement of Mary Odili, JSC (as she then was) of the Supreme Court in the case between Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu and Eyitayo Jegede, held that Buni violated the 1999 Constitution by performing the duties of a sitting Governor and Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee – both executive positions.

“The majority of Emmanuel Agim, JSC, enabled Governor Akeredolu, SAN to cling on to power on the tenuous ground that Mai Buni, was not joined in the action, even though the party he chaired was a party on the records.

“For the record, section 183 of the 1999 constitution says: “The Governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.

“However, in the current FHC suit, Justice Emeka Nwite agreed with the submissions of the plaintiff’s counsel that Governor Buni acted in contravention of the provision of Section 183 of the Constitution by holding dual executive positions as the Governor of Yobe State and the Chairman of the defunct National Caretaker Committee of APC, which supervised the party’s primary election in Osun. The court did not hesitate to declare as null and void the nomination of Governor Isiaka Oyetola and Benedict Alabi in the APC governorship election.

“The legal implications of Justice Emeka Nwite’s judgment have far reaching and horrendous consequences on all the primaries supervised and conducted by the Buni caretaker committee. The Federal High Court judgement can rightly be construed to mean that Oyetola, who is still sulking from his defeat at the polls, was not even qualified to participate in the election, and also that the integrity of all the other primary elections including that of the presidential primary conducted or supervised by the Buni-led caretaker committee are not only bad but incurably bad, consequently void ab initio.

“It is to be noted that both the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court acknowledged that there might have been a violation of Section 183 of the constitution in the Akeredolu case and but for the non-joinder of Mai Buni, the outcome would have been different. Therefore, although the suit was dismissed, the Supreme Court’s verdict did not particularly validate the primary election conducted by the Buni-committee. In the split decision of four to three, the apex court ruled that the suit lacked merit since the appellants did not join Governor Buni as a defendant. The majority verdict of the Supreme Court held that Buni should have been included in the suit while the minority led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, held that there was no need to join Buni in the suit, since APC was the principal and was made a party.

“From the above, it is clear that there is a pre-election cause of action against APC and all the candidates of the party whose primaries were conducted by the Buni-led caretaker committee, and this includes the legality of all the activities and businesses transacted and conducted by Buni Committee at the convention that produced the current officials of the party.

“On the authority of Macfoy v. United Africa Company, 3 All ER 1169 at 1172 (1961) and all the unbroken currents of judicial authorities, one can safely conclude as follows that the activities of the Buni Committee are void, and that any proceedings founded on the Buni Committee is not only bad but incurably bad. (Sunday Telegraph)

Source: News Express

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