National convention: Uncertainty In APC As Court Fixes Date For Hearing On Legality Of Buni Committee

There are fears that the Caretaker/ extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the All Progressives Congress, APC, may be swept aside, causing a huge set back for the party ahead of its national convention and general elections in 2023.

This is due to a suit that has been listed for hearing by the court. The court has fixed December 17 to determine the legality or otherwise of the Buni-led Committee.

Route To The Buni Committee

The crisis rocking the APC came to a head forcing the removal of Mr Adams Oshiomhole, who was accused of highhandedness.

Mt Oshiomhole’s final ordeal came after he was expelled from the party in his state following his struggle for supremacy with the State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki.

Following that removal, and the several court cases that followed, he was finally eased out of power while a 13-man Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC led by Governor Mai Bala Buni of Yobe State was created to administer the party and take it to convention.

The Committee was inaugurated in June 2020, even as some party faithful kicked against its headship because the occupant of the office cannot double as an executive chairman and serving governor.

But that position went unheeded until the supreme court ruling in a Governorship Election suit instituted by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr Eyitayo Jegede.

Jegede had gone to court to challenge the legal validity of Mr Rotimi Akeredolu’s nomination by the national Caretaker Committee of the APC headed by Buni.

The supreme court ruled through the majority decision that the non joinder of Buni as a party in the matter, proved fatal to Jegede’s case, acknowledging that the issue raised by the Appellants had merit and constitutional implication.

While the majority decision accepted there was a merit in the case and only saw the non-joinder of Buni as the lacuna which in effect could not allow for a positive declaration in favour of Mr Jegede, the minority decision said the APC and Buni were one and the claimant was not bound by law to join him.

Soon after that decision, party top shots and stakeholders began to call for Buni’s removal as all decisions undertaken by the caretaker Chairman will be a nullity if joined in any suit.

While various groups afterwards had pronounced the removal of Buni and creation of new national caretaker executives, all attempts by the APC Governors Forum to wade in and successfully steer the party to a peaceful convention has failed.

After protracted negotiation, the party suggested February, exactly one year to the Presidential election as the month for its national convention. That date was approved by the President before it was announced.

This is as the appeal committee tasked with finding solutions to the lingering crises tearing the party apart following the conduct of the state congresses has failed to resolve any crisis so far.

Court Suit

Following what they perceived as illegality taken too far, some aggrieved members of the party led by Mr Okosisi Emeka Ngwu, filed a suit at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, sitting in Jabi, challenging Buni’s Committee.

The court has fixed December 17 to commence hearing in the suit.

Ngwu is seeking an order setting aside all actions and decisions taken by the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the party.

Justice Babangida Hassan gave the order in the suit marked FCT/HC/CV/1824/2021 and filed by his lawyer, Chief Oba Maduabuchi (SAN).

The plaintiff is further seeking an order of court dissolving the Committee known as the Caretaker/ extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.

Other defendants in the matter are the All Progressives Congress; Isiaka Oyebola; Ken Nnamani; Stella Okorete; Governor Sani Bello; Dr. James Lalu; Senator Abubakar Yusuf; Hon Akenyemi Olaiade: David Leon; Abba Ali; Prof. Tahir Mammam, Ismail Ahmed and Senator James Akpan Udoedehe.

Ngwu stated that he wanted to contest the position of the National Chairman of the APC in 2018 when the term of the national chairman of the party expired but was prevailed upon to allow Adams Oshiomhole to be returned un-opposed.

That after two years, he was surprised to hear that the National Executive Committee and National Working Committee had been dissolved and a contraption known as Caretaker/Extraordinary Planning Committee was created by an unknown person and Mai Mala Buni asked unilaterally to head the committee.

That he was surprised by the constitution of the party, the National Executive Committee would be in office for four years until June 22, 2022.

He is therefore seeking a declaration that unless an election is conducted in accordance with the Electoral Act and by an organ known to and created by the constitution of the All Progressives Congress, no valid candidate can emerge from such a primary.

Whether there is any organ of the All Progressives Congress known as Caretaker/Extra Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) created in or by the Constitution of the party.

Whether the organisation known as and called Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee is one of the organs created by Article 11 of the constitution of the political party known as,and called the All Progressives Congress.

He also sought to know whether a valid candidate or officer of the party can emerge from a congress fixed by any other organ of a political party outside the National Executive Committee of a political party including the APC.

Consequent upon this, the court granted an order for extension of time for the APC to enter its appearance in the suit and to file other processes as was prayed by its counsel, Daniel Akinwale.

While efforts have been made to ensure Nwagwu withdraws the suit to prevent setting the party backwards, he said he’s determined to proceed with it casting fears that the party might sink deeper than it could handle ahead of its convention and bid to retain the federal government.

In fact, it has been gathered that some purist in the Committee and party fear the court decision will nullify all of Buni’s decisions including the date of its national convention, which will spell doom for the party.

A member of the caretaker Committee told THE WHISTLER on phone that if the suit proceeds, the party will be split and “scattered beyond repair before 2023 election,” blaming the development on those who undertook the decision to create a committee without leveraging on the extant law.

He told our correspondent that “There is confusion and anger in the party as sincere members in the Committee and the party know the Committee is illegal,” he revealed.

He said further that “We can’t say anything because we will become victims.

“The Minister of State for Labour, Mr Festus Keyamo, wrote the president informing him that the Committee was illegal both in its creation and existence, those who felt they can exist in illegality branded him an illiterate.

“These same people will decamp and leave the party when the party becomes divided. Even if a national Chairman emerges in February, who says another person won’t take the party to court that the Committee which handled that was illegal?

“What’s wrong with putting a neutral party as the Chairman just like the People’s Democratic Party did? Why and how can you put a man with vested interest as the chairman of the party? It’s totally wrong,” he said.

When contacted the spokesman of the APC, John Akpanudoedeh, failed to respond to the claim that the party fears it could face setback ahead of its national convention.

But another source said all will be done to settle the case out of court, noting that there will be a bargain.

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