Olusegun Ariyo

Although many observers says what is seen play-out having a sitting governor of the All Progressive Party becoming chairman of caretaker committee was never in the party’s constitution, but what is however in contention now is the plot to sack Buni, a sitting governor of Yobe state coming from Oshiomhole led national working committee that have approached a federal high court, requesting a reinstatement of their perspective offices.

The group, led by Mr. Hilliard Eta, yesterday, asked the court to stop the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led National Caretaker Committee (NCC) members of the party from going ahead with the planned national convention.

The suit is coming against the backdrop of moves by the NCC to conduct a revalidation of membership registration exercise before fixing a date for the party’s convention next year.

Eta, the plaintiff in the suit, through his Counsel, Chief Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), raise some questions for determination.

Defendants in the suit are Buni, Senator John Akpan Udoedehe, Isiaka Oyetola, Sani Bello, Stella Oketete and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In the Originating Summons, Buni, Udoedehe, Oyetola, Bello and Oketete are the 1st to 5th defendants, while INEC is the 6th defendant.

The plaintiff, who is a key ally of a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, prayed the court to determine the following questions:

Whether, having regard to Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) and Article 17 (iv) of the Constitution of APC, it is an illegality and a void act for a person to hold an executive office in the government simultaneously with an office in any organ of the APC at any level, in whatever capacity.

Whether, having regard to the above mentioned, only persons who are not disqualified from holding office by virtue of the constitution may run the affairs of the party, including the holding of a national conventions and congresses of the APC.
*Whether an act perpetuated in violation of the above mentioned is void ab initio, conferring or extinguishing no legal rights whatsoever.

The plaintiffs also prayed the court for the following: “An order setting aside and nullifying the appointment and constitution of the 1st to 5th defendants into a caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee of the APC.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the to defendants, acting by themselves or through their agents and servants, from continuing to hold out, present and or parade themselves as the caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee of the APC or from taking any steps whatsoever as either national chairman, national secretary or members, respectively, of the caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee of the APC.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the six defendant from recognizing and or continuing to recognise the 1st to 5th defendants as national chairman, national secretary or members respectively of the caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee of the APC.

In the affidavit in support of the summons, Eta said the NWC reacted to the proposed illegal meeting in a document captioned, ‘Press Statement by APC NWC,’ clearly expressing that the proposed meeting violated the party’s constitution.

Prior to the June 25 NEC meeting, the party had been enmeshed in serious crisis, during which about three persons laid claim to the position of the national chairman at the same time, coupled with conflicting court judgments obtained by the warring factions.

The raging crisis had prompted the NEC to summon the meeting, during which it passed a resolution to give the Buni-led interim committee a six-month tenure within which to organise a national convention to produce the substantive leaders of the party.

Few hours after the dissolution, 18 members of the NWC loyal to Oshiomhole said in a statement that the NEC meeting was illegal. In the statement signed by the then acting National Chairman, Eta, and acting National Secretary, Waziri Bulama, the group made it clear that they were consulting other stakeholders and their lawyers on the dissolution as well as other decisions taken by the NEC.

Eta, who was initially the National Vice Chairman, South-South, had emerged as the acting National Chairman of the party following the inability of the then National Vice Chairman, South, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, to assume the position. The chairman’s position became vacant following the sacking of Oshiomhole by the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

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