Exclusive:  APC May Shift National Convention Again Following Legal Advice

A new legal advice may see the Caretaker Committee Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, Mai Mala Buni, accede to another shift in the date of the party’s national convention, THE WHISTLER has learnt.

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It was gathered that the legal advice will be made available to Buni when he returns from medical trip.

But Buni would face an uphill battle if he decides to shift the convention date following mounting pressure from some governors who want it to hold at all cost.

The advice, which is contained in an internal party memo sighted by our correspondent on Tuesday morning at the party’s National Secretariat, highlighted the reasons for the proposed shift and steps to be taken.

The legal department of the party, which gave the advice, reiterated the need to vacate all cases involving the party in courts and the to give the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC,  a fresh 21 days’ notice on the new date for the convention.

It quoted section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 as cited by INEC in its last letter advising the party that it must comply with extant rules on all events the party wants to organize.

INEC in its last correspondence to the APC wrote, “The APC is reminded of the provision in Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, which requires ‘at least 21 days’ notice of any convention, congress, conference, or meeting convened for the purpose of ‘merger’ and electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any elective office.”

The new legal advice also drew the party’s attention to the recognized Chairman and Secretary of the party saying “No correspondence can be entertained from the INEC except signed by His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni and Senator John James Akpanudoedehe as earlier pointed out.”

In the last letter written and signed by the party’s Acting Chairman, Mr Abubakar Sani Bello and others inviting INEC to its National Executive Committee meeting, the Commission rejected it saying it only recognised Buni and Mr John Akpanudoedehe as National Chairman and Secretary respectively.

The INEC wrote the party saying, “The Commission draws your attention to the fact that the notice for the meeting was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC contrary to the provision of the Article 1.1.3 of the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018).”

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The party under Sani Bello responded by saying it was not required to write a second letter to the commission, saying earlier notice of its initial convention billed for February 26 suffices.

However, the new letter advised that it’s better to “err on the side of caution than to embark on the convention that may be declared illegal, similar to what the party experienced in Rivers and Zamfara States respectively.”

The letter also mentioned several cases that have been instituted against the convention, some of which have secured perpetual injunctions that have not been set aside.

Other cases the letter referenced were against the leadership of the party, “Thus requiring complete resolution of all these court cases before going on convention,” part of the legal advice read.

The letter further advised that the recognized chairman should employ “the window available to write the INEC by giving the Commission a 21-day notice immediately.”

When our correspondent contacted Akpanudoedehe on the development, he failed to pick his calls. No response was also received from the text messages sent to his phone as at the time of filing this report.

Buni is expected back to the country later this week after going on medical leave.

Mr Mamman Mohammed, the Chief Press Secretary to the Yobe State Governor, told newsmen that “Mai Mala Buni is still in Dubai receiving the last lap of his treatment as such he didn’t meet the President in the United Kingdom. You know when there is an issue, people tend to speculate but then, it ends in speculation.

“As I speak with you now, Mai Mala Buni is in Dubai receiving the last lap of his treatment. We are expecting him back to the country by the end of this week. Some media houses speculated that he was being expected in the country today but everything ended in speculation.”

The division in the party widened on Monday when Imo State Governor, Mr Hope Uzodimma, countered his Kaduna State counterpart, Mr Nasir El-Rufai, accusing him of lying that Buhari ordered Buni’s sack.

Uzodimma, who appeared on Politics Today, on Channels Television, said, “I am not aware of such an order,” adding that, ““It will be unfair for anybody to say that because in our last meeting with Governor Buni, he outlined all the activities. He also informed us that he would be travelling for his medicals and while he is there, Bello, who is going to act, would do all that. The decision to swear in the state chairman was taken in a meeting all of us were present.”

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