APC Ward Congresses May Face Legal Hurdles, Nullification, Says Former Legal Advisors

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    The legality burden hanging on the Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), headed by Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni is not going away soon as two former National Legal Adviser of the ruling party, said Saturday’s ward congresses across the nation shouldn’t have been held.

    In fact, the two former legal advisers, Muiz Banire and Babatunde Ogala said the congresses may be nullified by the court because of the legal conundrum.

    Ogala, the immediate past national legal adviser of the party, in his own submission, his second attempt at intervening over the judgment of the Supreme Court on the Ondo State governorship race maintained that the best option left for the party was to re-instate its sacked National Working Committee (NWC), saying the CECPC is not recognized by the 1999 Constitution.

    According to Ogala, APC may be in serious jeopardy in future as the 1999 constitution does not recognize caretaker committee to run the affairs of political parties.

    Ogala said: “My decision to be actively engaged in this process of helping the party find a solution is also driven by my sense of responsibility because after the dissolution of the National Working Committee, many senior colleagues reached out to me to express disappointment that I did not do more to offer guidance to the process.

    “Firstly, I hold the view that it is incorrect (factually and contextually) to state that the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Tribunal regarding the impact of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended) and Article 17(iv) of the APC Constitution. If this was the case, the Court would not require that Governor Mai Mala Buni ought to have been joined as the Court would have already determined the question in his absence.

    “That opinion most respectfully stands logic on its head, and it is therefore misleading in my opinion.

    “Also, it is not correct to insist that the opinion of the minority in this case in meaningless taking into account the fact that the majority rested its decision on a technical point. The technical point which is non-joinder is one that can be cured in any subsequent suit and that is why the failure of the majority decision to directly disagree with the substance of the minority decision presents an existential threat to the All Progressives Congress.

    “As I noted in my earlier opinion, the Court gave a hint by the silence of the majority and a wink by the decision of the minority.

    “It is my view that it is wrong and unfair on APC and all those who seek office through its platform to be asked to face the risk faced by our Governor, Arakurin Akeredolu. This can be avoided by doing the right thing.

    “The PDP and its candidate did not challenge the votes cast in that election but rather zeroed in on the nomination of the APC candidate and the nomination process and in response to that the apex Court said Governor Buni ought to have been joined. Does this not say it all?

    “In another breath, those who compare APC to a club or an association of elected officers miss the point completely.

    “Besides being a constitutional entity provided for in Sections 221, 222 and 223 of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended), APC has presence of party leadership through its Polling Unit Committee in over 170,000 Polling Units in Nigeria. The Chairman of the NWC and his team are responsible for the day-to-day running of this huge statutory entity and that is the role being played by Governor Buni and his team today.

    “How can this not be an executive position as contemplated by Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution?

    “The apex Court has not left anyone in doubt except those who choose to ignore them.

    “I hold the view that the untenable position of Governor Mai Mala Buni as de facto APC National Chairman is the smallest of APC’s problem.

    “The bigger issue is the fact that the entire Caretaker Committee structure is unconstitutional as it runs counter to the spirit of Section 223 of the 1999 Constitution, which mandates political parties to have only democratically elected leadership.

    “Therefore, without a doubt, APC must use this opportunity to correct all mistakes by going back to that dissolution of its NWC and all democratically built structures and re-instate the democratically elected NWC members, and other structures of the party.”

    In his own intervention, Banire said the Buni-led committee should have been circumspect in conducting the congresses when the Supreme Court ruling on the Ondo governorship election was not yet clear.

    He said: “Nobody has seen the full judgment of the Supreme Court. The expectation is that by tomorrow, the certified true copy will be released for people to digest and now be able to make informed decision and opinion. In such circumstances, why will they be proved with the congress?

    “Why are they in a hurry to do something which eventually might end up being calamitous? If eventually, it is the truth that the Supreme Court came to the conclusion unanimously for that matter that Governor Buni ought not to have signed any of the nomination papers of Governor Akeredolu, the same thing will apply to the congress they are doing.”

    “This is because the letter of notification to INEC was equally signed by Governor Mai Mala Buni. If the foundation is lacking, certainly they can’t build anything on it. At the end of the day, the whole exercise will be a nullity. It is a complete waste of everybody’s time.”

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