Supreme Court Rules Buni’s APC Chairmanship unlawful and unconstitutional
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling that the chairmanship of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) under Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State is unlawful and unconstitutional, the party’s leadership is fearful.
Buni’s position as an incumbent executive governor and executive chairman of the APC at the same time contradicts and violates the Nigerian and party constitutions, according to the seven Justices of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court made the revelation in its decision on the appeal marked SC/448/21, which included cross-appeals marked SC/501/21, SC/508/21, and SC/509/21.
The decision was handed down in Abuja by Justices Emmanuel Agim, John Okoro, Lawal Garba, Tijani Abubakar, Mary Peter-Odili, Ejembi Eko, and Mohammed Saulawa.
They cited the law in an appeal filed before them by Eyitayo Jegede SAN, a candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Ondo election, in which they questioned Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s nomination/sponsorship for the election by the APC, claiming that the letter conveying his nomination/sponsorship to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wilfully misrepresented his qualifications.
Buni acted unlawfully by being Yobe Governor and APC Chairman at the same time, according to Jegede and the PDP, citing Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 17 (4) of the APC constitution.
As a result, the two appellants argued that Governor Buni’s nomination/sponsorship letter for APC, notifying INEC of Akeredolu and Lucky Aiydatiwa’s (as governorship and deputy governorship candidates) candidacy, was void.
Following their findings of facts, the Supreme Court Justices agreed that the law prohibits a person from simultaneously holding two executive offices, such as governorship and chairmanship of a political party in Nigeria.
Four of the Justices, on the other hand, refused to remove Akeredolu as governor of Ondo on technical grounds, claiming that Mai Mala Buni’s name was not explicitly stated on the appellants’ papers, making it impossible for him to defend himself.
The other three Justices disagreed, saying that because the APC’s name was on the court process and its letter paper was used to convey the incompetent nomination, Akeredolu should be removed from office.
Justices John Okoro, Lawal Garba, and Tijani Abubakar joined Justice Emmanuel Agim in reading the lead majority judgement of the four justices, which was supported by Justices John Okoro, Lawal Garba, and Tijani Abubakar.
Because Jegede and the PDP made Buni the centre of their allegation of constitutional violations, Justice Agim ruled that he (Buni) should have been made a party to the case so that he could defend himself by the doctrine of fair haring.
“Despite the provision of Article 1z(4 of its constitution, the APC decided to allow Buni to act as its National Committee Chairman, thereby making the decision internal to the party.”
In their dissenting minority judgement, Justices Mary Peter-Odili, Ejembi Eko, and Mohammed Saulawa held the opposite view.
Because the APC, for which Buni worked, was a party in the case, Justice Odili felt there was no need to include him as a party.
She added that the party should leave by the consequences of its lawlessness after allowing Buni to act on its behalf in signing the nomination/sponsorship letters of its candidates in Ondo despite the clear provisions of section 183 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 17(4) of the APC constitution.
“I disagree with the majority judgement,” she said, noting that the APC’s constitution, Article 17(4), specifies how its affairs should be managed and which offices its members should hold at any given time.
“Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution provides support for this article. As a result, the second respondent (APC) nominated someone who was not qualified to do so under the provisions of Article 1z(4) of its constitution and Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution. As a result, that document is invalid and void,” she explained.
Bunin’s simultaneous serving as the National Chairman of the APC and the Governor of Yobe State, according to Justice Peter-Odili, was illegal and a violation of Article 17(4) of the APC constitution and Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution.
Meanwhile, following the Supreme Court’s findings of facts, there has been concern and anxiety at the APC National Secretariat, as well as among state and national leaderships, about the party’s fate in the run-up to the 2023 general elections.
The party has received good and great hints from the Supreme Court, according to a party chieftain who did not want his name published, and will do the necessary in the coming days.
“There is no such thing as a monopoly of legal knowledge. We did not consider that aspect of the law when we appointed His Excellency as the APC executive chairman. I am confident that Governor Buni will arrive soon to help us decide our next course of action.”
“Our governors have learned of the new position, and they will all converge here to free us from the clutches of that law before it is too late,” he said.
“Several state chairmen of committees established by Governor Buni have bombarded the national secretariat, demanding to know what is going on in this regard, and we have assured them that there is no cause for alarm,” says the statement.
“We will not allow what happened in Zamfara in 2019 to happen again. As I previously stated, we will take action as soon as possible.”
However, Deputy National Publicity of the party, My Yekini Nabena was not available for comment when our correspondent visited his office.
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