The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege on Friday has disagreed with a statement by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo over the legality of Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, as the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Keyamo had criticised the appointment of Buni as the APC‘s Chairman in the wake of the Supreme Court judgement affirming the candidacy of Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.
Four out of the seven-member panel of the apex court dismissed the appeal of Eyitayo Jegede, the October 2020 Governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo, to remove Mr Akeredolu as the elected state governor.
In his reaction to this judgement, Mr Keyamo said the ruling party would have lost the case if Mr Jegede had joined Mr Buni in the suit
Keyamo said, “The little technical point that saved Gov AKEREDOLU was that Jegede failed to join GOV. Mai Mala Buni in the suit. Jegede was challenging the competence of Gov. Mai Mala Buni as a sitting Governor to run the affairs of the APC as Chairman of the Caretaker Committee.
“He contends that this is against Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution which states that a sitting Governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever. In other words, had Buni been joined in the suit, the story may have been different today as we would have lost Ondo State to the PDP,” he noted.
However, in his response via a statement issued on Friday, Omo-Agege stated that such a position must not be salaried executive office while explaining that a governor could lead a committee or group such as the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF).
Omo-Agege also said he believes the law does not forbid a sitting governor from holding another position.
In his legal opinion as a lawyer, Senator Omo-Agege disagreed with Keyamo’s position.
He stressed that it was absolutely impossible and untenable to argue that the provisions of Section 183 barred a governor from being a chairman or member of a caretaker committee set up by his or her political party.
In reaction to the Supreme Court’s judgement on the Ondo State elections, an excerpt from Omo-Agege’s statement reads, “Without much ado, it is important to state that the majority decision of the Supreme Court in Jegede’s case, emphatically dismissed the appeal and did not consider the issue of the provisions of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution, neither did the majority decision make any comments on the competence of Governor Mai Mala Bumi as the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee.
“The sole question that begs for consideration is whether the appointment of Governor Mai Mala Bumi as the APC Caretaker Committee Chairman offends the provisions of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)?
“In answering the above question, it is pertinent to reproduce the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) as follows:
“The governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.”
“From the explicit provision of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is absolutely impossible and untenable to argue that the provisions of Section 183 bar a Governor from being a Chairman or member of a Caretaker Committee set up by his or her political party.
“There is no law under our legal jurisprudence that bars or prohibits a Governor who is a member of a political party and won elections under the political party from carrying out specific assignments on behalf of his party. How this will amount to holding an Executive office is beyond every stretch of human comprehension.”
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