Banking on Malami’s Rule of Law, APC Holds Ward Congresses Today
*Threatens sanctions against members scheming parallel meetings
*Buni considers his options
*Party chieftain wants court to stop congresses, National Convention over Buni’s chairmanship
Adedayo Akinwale and Alex Enumah in Abuja
Rattled by last Wednesday’s minority judgement of the Supreme Court on the Ondo State governorship election, which punched holes in the legality of the actions of its National Caretaker Committee’s Chairman, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, members of the All Progressives Congress’ Caretaker Committee yesterday scampered to the Minister of Justice/Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, for advice on whether to go ahead with today’s ward congresses.
On the same day, a chieftain of the APC from Abia State, Kalu Agu, asked a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the APC from going ahead with its ward congresses today, as well as subsequent local governments, states, zonal congresses, and the party’s National Convention.
As for Buni, sources said he was also distressed by the Supreme Court indictment, and “he is seriously weighing his options about either staying as party Chair or returning to his job as Yobe State governor.”
Another source said the decision to consult Malami on the issue was in conformity with the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Of course, Malami, after an elaborate analysis, cleared the Caretaker Committee to proceed with the ward congresses, assuring that Buni’s continued stay as Chair would not portend any crisis for the party.
The sources said Malami told the caretaker members that the Supreme Court judgement did not render the committee illegal and that it still “has legal capacity to undertake any action on behalf and in the name of the party.”
Malami said further that the judgement did not question the legality of all the actions taken by the Buni-committee since inception.
A member of Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Prof. Mamman Tahir, who confirmed this development, while addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, said Malami assured that Buni’s stay was legal, and would not turn the congresses into a nullity.
Tahir stated: “I am here this afternoon to reconfirm that our Congresses are on course to hold tomorrow (Saturday) and this Committee is working closely with the Attorney-General of the Federation and he has offered advice that we are on good ground and we are comfortable with that position.
“So, our programmes will continue to roll on in the normal course of things. We want to assure teeming members of the APC across the country to come out and elect officers at the ward levels. This party believes so much in grassroots politics, grassroots democracy; that is the strength of the party.
“I call on all members to come out tomorrow and elect leaders of their choice at the Ward level before the party moves to the next stage of the democratisation process.”
Asked if Congresses will hold in Zamfara and Anambra, Tahir said: “Another date is being fixed for those states because we have an election coming up in Anambra. We don’t want to jeopardise our position there. Though in Zamfara, only recently, they are still doing their validation and continuation of membership registration. So that is the position.”
APC Reads Riot Act, Warns against Parallel Congress
The National Secretary of APC’s CECPC, John Akpanudoedehe, was also buoyed by Malami’s assurances, issued a statement yesterday, saying today’s ward congresses would go ahead as planned.
Akpanudoedehe warned that any parallel congress, parallel party organ and or parallel party office would not be tolerated by the national leadership of the party ahead of the ward congresses.
In a notice to party members, he said the APC would deploy the full weight of the law as stipulated in Section 21(D) of the party’s Constitution on any one who engaged in such act.
In the notice, the party said it was important that the attention of all party faithful be drawn to the resolution of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of 8th December, 2020, which subsists and extends to the conduct of party members during the congresses.
The APC re-stated that all pending litigations instituted by members against the party should be withdrawn forthwith, “and going forward, no member should institute matters against the party, without exhausting the internal mechanism for conflict resolution, as enshrined in the party’s constitution.”
The ruling party said as a result of the above, party members should note that all activities that may be carried out by persons to put the party and its officers in bad light, before, during and after the congresses should be jettisoned.
It added: “All activities or processes congresses and thereafter which do not have the approval of the CECPC are exercises in futility. This is to say that: any purported; parallel congress, parallel party organ and or parallel party office, is to say the least a nullity. These divisive activities will not be tolerated.
In its split judgment of four against three by the seven member-panel, which sat on the Ondo governorship election petition, the Supreme Court had contended that the reason it did not sack Governor Akeredolu, was because the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate in the October 10, 2020 election, Eyitayo Jegede, failed to join Buni in the suit, even when the issues revolved around him.
Although Justice Mary Odili, in a dissenting minority verdict, upheld Jegede’s appeal that the nomination of Akeredolu, which was signed by Buni, was not valid under Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution.
After the judgement, the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, was the first to advise the APC to halt all preparations and conduct of congresses nationwide forthwith, having analysed the implications of the judgment.
Said Keyamo: “The planned congresses across the country slated for this weekend must immediately be suspended, because it will be an exercise in futility as analysed above. The competence of Governor Buni to organise the congresses has been called to question by the Supreme Court.”
Buni Sues for Peace
Meanwhile, Buni, has enjoined party stakeholders and members to conduct the exercise peacefully.
Buni, in a statement issued yesterday called on officials conducting the Congress to be fair and objective to all candidates contesting the election.
The chairman warned that the party would not hesitate to take decisive measures against anyone who deliberately sabotage the Congress.
He noted that adequate arrangements had been made by the party to conduct successful and acceptable congresses across the country.
Buni said: “As stakeholders of the party, we have great responsibility to make the ward Congress in all the participating states successful. We should endeavour to place the party and members’ interests above personal interests.
“We have come a long way repositioning the party, we have reconciled many groups and individuals, we must not allow personal interests in this election to divide us and draw us back.”
The Chairman also charged aggrieved members to channel their grievances to the appropriate quarters at the party secretariat.
Court Stops Imo Congress
The APC Ward congresses in Imo State have been stopped by an Abuja federal high court.
Justice Valentine Oriji, in his ruling on the suit filed by Okey Anyikwa, who is the APC Chairman in Ideato South Local Government Area, threatened to invalidate the outcome of congresses if the party disregards the position of the Court.
Anyikwa had approached the court to stop the APC in the state from going ahead with the congresses because of the judgement of the Appeal Court that upheld the tenure of the state’s Exco elected in 2018.
All action regarding APC congresses in the state are to be placed on hold, pending the hearing of the application slated for August 10.
APC Chieftain, Kalu Asks Court to Halt Party’s Congresses
A chieftain of the APC from Abia State, Mr Kalu Agu, yesterday asked a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the APC from going ahead with its planned Ward congress scheduled for today as well as subsequent local governments, states, zonal Congresses and the party’s National Convention.
Agu in the suit marked CV/1812/2021, dated July 29 and filed July 30, 2021 is also asking the court to declare as null and void, any of the APC’s congresses and convention held under the current acting National Chairman of the APC’s Caretaker Committee.
The suit filed by his lawyer, Ukpai Ukairo, has the APC and Buni as first and second defendants respectively.
The plaintiff by the suit is claiming that the second defendant was never elected at any congress to run the affairs of the APC, adding that the party’s Constitution does not allow any person who holds an executive position to occupy any position in any of its organs.
In a 38 paragraph affidavit deposed to in support of the suit, the plaintiff, stated that Buni “is being sued solely in his capacity as henchman of the usurpers of the functions of the organs and elected officers of the first defendant and as representing the other usurpers of the functions of the organs and elected officers of the first defendant.”
Agu, who disclosed that he intends to contest for the position of National Legal Adviser of the APC during the party’s next convention said his interest would be affected by “a coñduct of a congress superintended by the second defendant who is a sitting Governor of Yobe State and also discharging the functions of the elected National Chairman and the National Working Committee of the first defendant”.
While claiming that APC does not have an elected ward congress and that Buni is not also elected, the deponent added that “some persons not known to the Constitution of the party are determined to come together and appoint themselves as ward executive committee, thereby excluding him from the process of contesting for the said position.
Among the issues he wants the court to determine are: whether the APC can conduct a ward congress when there is no elected ward executive committee of the APC.
He further wants the court to determine whether the APC can lawfully conduct a ward congress, local government congress, state congress, zonal congress, national convention for the election of officers into the various levels of the structure of the APC established by the constitution of the APC for its administration when it has usurpers of the functions of the organs and elected officers of the APC who are not elected in accordance with the 1999 Constitution, the Electoral Act and the APC’s Constitution.
He sought an order of mandatory injunction setting aside any decision, act, steps, notifications taken or made out for the purpose of holding any ward, Local Government, State, Zonal Congresses or National Convention of the party.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.