- Says appeal report lacks logic legally, politically Confusion as NWC keeps mum on appeal panel’s report
Olawale Olaleye in Lagos and James Sowole in Akure
The National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN), has written a strongly-worded letter to the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, over the appeal panel’s report on the Ondo State governorship primary of the party, saying the report was bereft of logic and facts, both legally and politically.
Banire, whose advice the party cannot afford to take with a pinch of salt given its legal standing, subtly warned the party leadership not to accede to the recommendations of the panel because it held grave consequences in all ramification, especially on the integrity of the committee that conducted the election and led by the Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Badaru Abubakar.
“In summary, I recommend the rejection of the recommendations of the Appeal Committee and the dismissal of the petitions as same are lacking in merit,” Banire said in the five-page letter.
According to him, beyond the legal evaluation of the matter, “political exigency does not support nullification of the election or revisit of the procedure of conducting same as they can create more bitterness than can ever be imagined.
“Apart from occasioning waste of scarce resources, both human and material resources in this period of austere economy of the nation, it will also constitute serious indictment on the integrity of the members of the electoral committee, whose efforts had been generally commended by all and sundry including both the NWC and even the appeal committee.
Politically speaking, he was of the view that “It would be grave disincentive to others, who would be saddled with such responsibilities in future. Thus, both legally and politically, it is unwise to toe the path of the appeal committee’s recommendations as even courts of law do not tamper with election results lightly. A most recent example is the Kogi State election petition results upheld by the Supreme Court few hours ago.”
Thus, building up his argument, Banire noted that “I have carefully gone through the report of the appeal committee on the petitions against the just concluded Ondo State governorship primary election. I have also taken into consideration the pieces of evidence relied upon by the committee in arriving at its recommendation that the election result be nullified and a fresh election to be conducted. Based on my observations, I hereby make the following submissions:
“On the allegation of fake delegates voting, apart from the oral evidence of the so-called delegates, is there any other credible evidence unequivocally showing that such fake delegates actually participated in the primary election? Did the committee verify the names of such fake delegates on the Register? How did they get the accreditation cards? How did they get into the venue? How did they get the ballot papers? All these queries require answers that the committee’s report did not answer.
“It is also important to determine the source of the delegates’ list. Who or which organ of the party is appropriate to issue delegates’ list for an election of this nature? It is incontrovertible that it is the NWC of the party. If the list emanated from the NWC, it is authentic except if it is proved that the list emanated from some other source or sources, which is not the case. The Appeal Committee did not bother to verify or confirm from the NWC the source of the delegates’ list.”
While bringing the NWC up to speed, he contended: “The two local government areas complained of were cleared by the last meeting of the NWC before the election, wherein we got submissions on the two pending court cases. In the first one, the court case was already dismissed thereby paving the way for recognition of the delegates’ list originally challenged in that local government area. It was not used hitherto because it was challenged, hence no manipulation of the list in this regard.
“As per Owo Local Government Area, the delegates’ list was equally not used then because it was challenged. However, upon the determination of the issue submitted to the court, judgment was given in favour of the recognition of the delegates’ list. An appeal was entered by an interested party but no stay of execution order was obtained and neither was the appeal diligently prosecuted. Consequently, the only valid list in existence as at the time of the primary election, based on the subsisting court judgment, was the list cleared to be used by the NWC. Again, having cleared same, NWC cannot reprobate on it.
“Therefore, it is my submission that the Appeal Committee goofed in this regard as they failed to ask nor answer this crucial question as to who or what body of the party is the appropriate organ to issue delegates’ list, which is the gravamen of all the complaints. They did not bother to find out whether the NWC confirmed the authenticity of the delegates’ list. To agree otherwise is to constitute an indictment on the NWC as it is the aspirants that would now determine, who would be their personal delegates,” he said.
Meanwhile, confusion and uncertainty now pervade the ranks of aspirants, leaders and members of the APC in Ondo State on the silence of the National Working Committee (NWC) on the report of the Appeal Committee of the primary that produced Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) as candidate of the party.
Though, there were speculations that the. NWC of the APC had overruled the report of the Appeal Committee, which recommended cancellation of the primary held on September 3 and ordered a new one.
While those in the camp of Akeredolu were celebrating the decision of the Appeal Panel that upheld the outcome of the election of Akeredolu as the candidate of the party, those in the camps of other aspirants were refuting the report of the decision of the party.
.In fact, members of the party in Ondo East and West Local Government Areas of the state yesterday took to the streets to protest the decision of panel and another speculated decision of the NWC, which rejected the recommendation of the panel.
The members led by the Chairman of the party in Ondo East, Mr. Temitope Akintunde, said the decision of the NWC to accept the governorship primary showed that they were insensitive to the aspiration of the party to win the state in the governorship election.
The aggrieved party members who had earlier gathered to celebrate the cancellation of the governorship primary that produced Akeredolu later turned it to a protest on learning that the highest organ of the party had thrown the report into trash can.
The party members and sympathisers moved round the town with placards protesting the outcome of the NWC’s decision nullifying the Appeal Panel report.
Some inscriptions on their placards read: ‘We reject the NWC Report,’ ‘Let the decision of the Appeal Committee Stand,’ ‘Bola Tinubu and Baba Akande are our leaders,’ ‘Bola Ilori is a hero,’ ‘Bola Ilori thank you for been the voice of the voiceless,’ ‘A candidate that disrespect leaders is an emperor in the making,’ ‘Ondo East and West says thank you all’.
Akintunde expressed his disappointment that his petition which was favourably considered by Appeal Committee was rejected by NWC.
He said the last primary election was the very definition of fraud, it was Free-fair-fraud and wondered why the NWC rejected the report.
However, one of the aspirants, Dr Segun Abraham told his supporters not to panic as the decision of the Appeal Committee on the governorship primary stands.
Abraham who came second in the primary election said in a statement commended his supporters and people of the state.
“Thankfully, and as you know, our party’s Electoral Appeal Committee has given a recommendation that is consistent with facts and the anti-corruption stance of our great party, with the hope to right the many wrongs of the September 3rd Primary election.
“As we await the ratification of this recommendation by the National Working Committee (NWC), some desperate ones have rushed to the media to give misleading, wrong, unauthorised and anti-party information, in a contemptuous attempt to jettison the ongoing deliberations of our NWC.
“I urge you to disregard and discard them all. We are not desperate, rather, we are further encouraged and resolute on rescuing the mandate of Blessings for you, my dear people, via a truly credible process.
“Assuredly, our state will be rescued from the clueless clutches of the pseudo-government of the PDP, and my promise of a truly practical and experienced-based governance remains unshaken.
As we wait, be calm dear people, and again, I say, Keep faith” he said.