The Many Faces of Anti-Party Activities 



Party Defections

In this election season, Nigerians have witnessed possibly an unprecedented level of Party Defections and Anti-Party Activities – they both go hand in hand, with the former sometimes being a follow up of the latter.  It is now more or less common place, to see an individual speaking as a spokesperson for a candidate in Party A this week, and next week, becoming a spokesperson for the candidate in opposing Party B! And, the way they speak with so much conviction about their  principals in the new parties being the best thing after sliced bread, having previously said the same thing about their old principals in their former parties, makes any right-thinking person wonder! The frequency of such occurrences, rather than party defections being few and far between and based on some strong principle, makes the discerning come to the irresistible conclusion that Nigerian politics usually has less to do with ideology, and more to do with self-service! I use the word ‘usually’ because, there are a few exceptions to this, that is, party defection based on genuine reasons. A politician friend of mine prefers to refer to such defections and betrayals as an “Evolution” in our politics and democracy, and insists that, in other more developed democracies, such things occurred regularly in their pasts, as they gradually transcended.

Of course, nothing in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended in 2018)(the Constitution) prohibits politicians from defecting from one party to another, except Sections 68(1)(g) & 109(1)(g) thereof which preclude National and State Legislators respectively, from defecting from the party that sponsored them into office to another, before the expiration of that particular term in whichever Legislative House they are in, save in certain circumstances, for instance, if there is a division in the political party that sponsored such a Legislator into office.  We all know that even these two provisions seem to have been jettisoned, as Legislators too freely jump from one party to another without the conditions in the aforementioned Sections 68 & 109 being satisfied, and they do not vacate their seats. See the case of Ogbuoji & Ors v Umahi & Ors (2022) LPELR-57166(CA) per Oyewole JCA; AGF & Ors v Alhaji Atiku Abubakar & Ors S.C. 31/2007 2007 NGSC 179 per Sunday Akintan JSC.

APC & PDP Constitutions: Anti-Party Activity Offences & Disciplinary Measures

Anti-party activities, that is, being engaged in activities which undermine or are detrimental to your political party, or may ruin its chances at the polls or bring it into disrepute, have also become the order of the day in this election cycle. Of course, lack of internal democracy within political parties thereby foisting unpopular or wrong candidates on party members, is a major contributor to anti-party activities. In Isa v CPC & Ors 2013 LPELR-22376 (CA), the Court of Appeal held inter alia that a political party should not be allowed to violate or breach its own guidelines and constitution, and foist excesses and arbitrariness on a member of the party. 

An obvious example of an anti-party activity however, one which is common in today’s electoral cycle, is supporting a candidate of another political party, whether secretly or openly, over and above the candidate of your own party vying for the same elective office. The other day, I saw a flyer on social media, where in the same flyer, the candidate for one elective office was from Party A, while that of the Presidential candidate was from Party L. Also, making public derogatory statements about one’s party, which can tend to bring the party into contempt, hatred, odium or opprobrium, or lower the party in the estimation of the public, is also an anti-party activity. In this second scenario, we have seen some make such statements, especially as they are exiting from the party. 

I perused the constitutions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and I discovered that though the term was not specifically defined by either party’s constitution, and seems to be quite fluid in meaning, both parties consider anti-party activities to be an offence, and have disciplinary measures in place in case of a member being found guilty of such infraction.

Chapter 10 Section 58(1)(b) & (f) of the PDP Constitution 2012 lists saying or doing anything likely to bring the party into disrepute, hatred or contempt, or engaging in anti-party activities, as offences, while Section 59 thereof prescribes various types of punishments ranging from Reprimand to Expulsion from the party, if a member commits any of the Section 58 offences.

Article 21 A (ii) of the APC Constitution provides that anti-party activity is an offence against the Party, “or any conduct which is likely to embarrass or have adverse effect on the party or bring the party into hatred, contempt, ridicule or disrepute”. 

Article 21 A (xi)  also makes alteration of Delegates lists and falsification of nomination results and tampering with internal democracy, infractions that result in expulsion from the party and criminal prosecution. However, just like Government observes laws in their breach, so also do party members not have any regard for the offences and disciplinary aspects of their constitutions. The recent incident where aspirants who were unsuccessful in their bid to get their Party Presidential ticket, and mysteriously claimed to have simultaneously secured Senatorial tickets without participating in the primaries, not only went unpunished, APC sought to foist the Senate President on the Party as its consensus candidate, and forward his name to INEC as its candidate for Yobe North Senatorial District, when Bashir Machina was the one who participated in the primaries and won. See Section 84(9)-(11) of the Electoral Act 2022 (EA) and Isa v CPC & Ors (Supra). 

Government & Anti-Party Activities

Can the APC Government itself also be accused of engaging in anti-party activities? When an election is so close by, and some deliberate acts and omissions of a Government whose party is also running for re-election, have the resultant effect of ramming all sorts of hardship down the people’s throats, do those acts and omissions not qualify as anti-party activities, because instead of endearing the party to the people, the people are riled up and disgruntled? 

Less than one month to the Presidential election, the fuel queues are getting longer instead of reducing. The nationwide fuel shortage has lingered for months on end, and is something that has unleashed untold suffering on Nigerians. Therefore, there are many making snide remarks about how bizarre it is that the APC hopes to win the election, when people cannot even purchase fuel, and there is a negative multiplier effect of inconvenience and higher prices stemming therefrom. Some leave home as early as 3am, or even spend the night at petrol stations, to be able to get fuel to buy. People are definitely spitting venom about APC! This fuel shortage issue seems to fit into Article 21 A (ii) of the APC Constitution as an offence against the party, as it is not only a constant embarrassment and has an adverse effect on the APC, but brings the party into hatred, contempt, ridicule and disrepute. One would expect that a Government that wants its party to be re-elected would have sorted this fuel shortage problem a long time ago, but instead, it seems totally unconcerned about the situation! Government has not said anything comforting, nor done much to alleviate this bad situation. See Chapter II of the Constitution (Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy) Is Government engaged in an anti-party activity?

Interestingly, some APC politicians are also categorising the CBN’s new currency change without adequate preparation, restrictions on the withdrawal of cash coming on the eve of the 2023 general elections, and non-availability of the new currency for Nigerians, whether at the ATMs or from the Banks themselves, as anti-party activities, since it has the stamp of approval of President Muhammadu Buhari (being the President, the most senior APC member) and his APC administration! While a politician friend of mine makes a half-convincing argument that, unlike a place like the UK, since Nigeria doesn’t have a volunteering culture where party agents would volunteer to carry out their functions free-of-charge, here in Nigeria, they have to be paid (in cash) in order not to mess up their candidates on Election Day by selling out to the highest bidder who may be ready to pay, we all know that the two major political parties APC and PDP are chronic vote-buyers, and we witnessed samples of their vote-buying techniques during their party primaries last year. It therefore, goes without saying, that Government’s new currency regime will have an adverse effect on those who were planning to use vote-buying as their election strategy! However, more importantly, it also has an adverse effect on the ruling APC, as the public who have been unable to collect cash from the Banks across Nigeria, are murmuring against the APC Government, grumbling that they have failed and do not deserve to be re-elected next month. Could the new currency regime introduced by this APC Government, also be said to qualify as an Article 21 A(ii) APC Constitution Anti-Party Activity Offence, since it will most likely have an adverse effect on the party during the elections? 


The 2023 election is now less than four weeks away. Undoubtedly, we may probably see some more high profile party defections at the last minute, and definitely, more anti-party activities, even if they are covert. It is an open secret that high ranking members of parties, are secretly working for the victory of opponents for various reasons, including ethnicity, religion, self-interest, hedging their bets in order to stay relevant politically, and so on. 

P.S. 2022 Osun Gubernatorial: Oyetola v Adeleke

A look at the Osun State judgement delivered last week in the matter of the Gubernatorial election, Oyetola v Adeleke, raised pertinent questions. Aside from the playfulness displayed in such a serious matter – in the majority decision, with the reference to Kizz Daniel’s hit song “Buga” and the repetition of the chorus of the song in the said judgement (I received several calls and messages, asking me if it was a real judgement or a prank), it is important to ask whether the BVAS machine (Bimodal Voter Accreditation System) itself was examined during the Tribunal proceedings, as it would be the sure means to clear up any discrepancies between any forms, reports etc. I ask because, there is a process for voting. The voter must be accredited with the BVAS, before voting. See Section 47(1) & (2) of the EA. There is a logical conclusion therefore, that lawful voters must have been accredited. The record of all accredited voters, remains in the BVAS, as this device is the primary custodian of accredited voters on Election Day, and the way to ascertain whether there was over-voting in any election, would be to actually examine the BVAS machines tendered in evidence in an election petition, to make comparison with whatever results are generated. Was this done? After all, one of the reasons for the introduction of the BVAS, is to eliminate the various opportunities for election rigging and controversy regarding the number of voters and results, that have always plagued our elections.

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