Following a recent Supreme Court judgement on the election of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, a fresh storm has engulfed the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as some chieftains of the party, including aides of President Muhammadu Buhari, have called for the sack of the national Caretaker Committee of the party, Mai Mala Buni.
The apex court, had, on Wednesday, July 28, in a split decision of four-to-three, dismissed the appeal brought by candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Eyitayo Jedege, in the October 10, 2020 governorship election.
One point that has continued to raise concerns was when 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 Nigerian Constitution, 1999.
The judgement, however, opened a fresh challenge to the ruling party as to whether it should continue to put the running of its affairs in the hands the Yobe State governor, with many stakeholders calling for his sack.
A wide range of APC chieftains are also divided as to whether the party, under Buni, is not digging its own grave by its continued stay in office and running its affairs.
Shortly after the announcement of the judgement, Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Festus Keyamo (SAN) advised the party to put a halt to “all preparations to conduct congresses nationwide forthwith.”
Also reacting to the close judgement call, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, joined the call for Buni to step aside and his committee disbanded.
In a statement jointly signed by the presidential aides, the duo said the judgement appeared to have “swept the carpet of legality off the committee, rendering it illegal, null, void and of no legal capacity to undertake any action on behalf and in the name of the party.”
“In view of the impending ward, local government, states and zonal congresses and indeed the national convention, which the CECPC was primarily set up to do, it is our view:
“That the party carefully and dispassionately cause her team of legal experts to review, appraise and give considered opinion on the import of the majority and in extreme particular the reasonings in the minority judgment of the Supreme Court as to the legal status of the CECPC to proceed further with any activity in the name of the party or otherwise.
“That options, including painful ones be recommended to perfect the party leadership in the eyes of the law with legal capacity to do what it ought to do.
“That the team also recommend measures to perfect matters in respect of pending elections and matters to rescue challenged pending processes.
“That time being of the essence, very limited timelines be set for each of the proposed steps.
“Finally, this being a Supreme Court judgement, we should be thankful that it has come very early that it will guide our party to victory in 2023 as we mind carefully the legal status of our systems, guiding us on avoidable actions as we approach the 2023 tape to brace successfully,” the statement read.
Another APC chieftain, Hon. Isaac Kekemeke, a former Secretary to the Ondo State Government and former chairman of the party in the state, also called for the resignation of the Mala Buni led committee following the Supreme Court ruling.
To Kekemeke, Buni should have resigned after the Supreme Court ruling to avoid the party walking on a landmine.
“In saner climes, Governor Buni and all those serving in executive positions in the APC Caretaker Committee should have step down for an ad hoc committee or some emergency committee to start immediately the process of a convention with a view to electing officials who will have to adopt or approve decisions taken so that opposition parties or aggrieved members do not wait for us.
“Our party must cease to be a party of only people in political office. It must be a party that accommodates everyone, those in government and those outside of government.
“I am sure our leadership will be sensitive enough to take the requisite required action so that we do not walk on landmines.
“It must promote and develop democratic practice. Apart from Buni and the Governors, there are millions of other party men who have capacity to run this party.
“The earlier the party leadership from the President and the Governors act, the better. We should not be known for impunity.
“Now is the time for us to follow, observe the provisions of the Nigeria constitution and our own party,” Kekemeke said.
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