- They’ve no case- APC
- Lawyers differ
The splinter group that recently announced its formation within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to disband the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party.
In a letter to the INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the Reformed-APC, led by Engr. Buba Galadima, hinged its arguments on the grounds that the APC national convention held last month was flawed.
Galadima had on Thursday, July 5 led some members of the nPDP and others he said were from the defunct ACN, CPC, ANPP and a faction of APGA, to unveil the R-APC.
The R-APC had also teamed up with the Peoples Democratic Party and over 30 others to start a Coalition of Political Parties (CUPP) in an effort to dislodge the APC in 2019 elections.
Erstwhile leader of the nPDP, Kawu Baraje, had since returned to the PDP. His move is seen as a precursor to what step Senate President Bukola Saraki and others may take in the coming days.
The letter by the R-APC to INEC, dated July 4, only became public yesterday. It asked the electoral unpire to stop recognizing the Oshiomhole-led APC leadership because the convention fell short of legal requirements.
“I write as a foundation member of the APC, a member of its Board of Trustees, National Caucus and an automatic delegate at its national convention, to bring to your notice that on 23rd June, 2018, the APC purportedly held a very flawed and undemocratic convention for the purpose of electing its national officers following the disputed congresses held in various Wards (May 2, 2018), Local Governments (May 5, 2018), State Congress (May 8, 2018).
“These congresses leading up to the national convention of the party was marred with serious irregularities and manipulations to the extent that in at least 22 states, parallel congresses were held and different set of delegates and officers emerged. Some of the States includes: Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Cross-River, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Niger, Ondo, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto and Zamfara.
“In particular the ‘election’ was in direct contravention of Article 20(1) of the APC Constitution, which says unless otherwise provided for, all party posts prescribed or implied by this constitution shall be filled by democratically conducted elections at the respective national convention or congress subject, where possible, to consensus, provided that where a candidate has emerged by consensus for an elective position, a vote of “Yes” or “No” by ballot or voice shall be called, to ensure that it was not an imposition which could breed discontent and crisis,” it said.
Engr. Galadima said “What transpired was that the chairman of the convention [Jigawa State Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar] flagrantly usurped the powers of the delegates and declared 18 officers elected without following the laid down criteria.
He said Section 223 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 provides that political parties must conduct periodic elections but alleged that the APC had violated that provision.
“Furthermore, the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended gives INEC enormous powers to monitor political parties.
“All attempts to activate the appeal processes and internal mechanisms of seeking redress as a senior member of the APC was frustrated by the party.
“We respectfully, therefore, request INEC to intervene, following precedents established over the years, to declare invalid and unlawful and not to accord any form of recognition to officers purportedly elected at the APC,” he said.
Spokesman of INEC, Rotimi Oyekanmi, told Daily Trust last night he was not aware of a petition from R-APC calling on the body not to recognize the current leadership of APC.
“There may be such a petition but honestly speaking as I speak with you now, that has not come to my notice,” Oyekanmi said.
Daily Trust has however seen a copy of the letter purportedly acknowledged on July 11 by the electoral commission.
What they should have done – APC
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, in a phone interview with Daily Trust last night, said INEC cannot handle the petition written by the R-APC.
He said “INEC does not have any role to play in the issues of congresses and convention, rather than being an observer. If anybody who is an aspirant is not happy because of the congresses or convention, the first thing to do is to go to the appeal panel. That is why we have the appeal panel because it is essentially an internal affair of the party.
“In the first place, they have to be aspirants. And I don’t think anyone among them is an aspirant at the convention. They didn’t even participate at the convention. They have to be aspirants before they can even write the appeal panel.
“If they are not satisfied, then they can now go to court. The court will now decide whether in conducting the convention, the party adhered to its guidelines.”
They pose no threat – Oshiomhole
Meanwhile, the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said yesterday that the Buba-Galadima-led group could not threaten the party.
Oshiomhole however said the party would do everything possible to assuage those who had genuine grievances.
“And if any of us had doubts, from what we saw the other day, a collection of old coaches searching frantically for new ideas. The more they search, the more they get old players, not even the best of them, but the worst of old players and I do not think Nigerians can be fooled by a coalition of that.
“If you harness the energy of one million snails and transform it into one snail to run, it cannot catch up with an antelope. So, when we were told 50 political parties had merged to confront us towards 2019, I was excited. That is a clear admission that as things stand today, neither the one we defeated before, the PDP, nor the new one that claim they have formed a new party but populated by the same old tired legs, or the mushroom parties that were formed for the purpose of getting hand-outs from INEC, they have agreed that none of them has what it takes.
“And they are now saying to Nigerians that ‘we want to capture power even though we are different, but for the purpose of capturing power, we will unite’, and I do not think Nigerians need any further explanation that enough of this opportunistic politicking.”
Lawyers disagree on R-APC’s move
Senior lawyers have disagreed on whether or not the R-APC has the locus standi to petition INEC to disregard the national convention.
Dr. Biodun Layonu (SAN) said, “It is an exercise in futility. It’s a way of scandalising the party, to cause confusion and generate unnecessary crisis. Anybody is free to join or leave a political party, but you cannot want to leave a party and at the same time want to destroy it. You either leave and let the other members carry on or you stay and comply.
“If they are not satisfied with the convention, the court is there for them to approach. INEC by law has to be present at a party’s convention. INEC made their observations, they have their report and they did not make any statement doubting the integrity of that convention. So, if the break-away faction members are not satisfied, INEC is not the appropriate venue to do that, the courts are free for them to go and make these complaints.”
However, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) said “R-APC members have the right to tell INEC to recognise them and disregard the convention because it was fundamentally flawed right from the ward, local governments and states. Only last week, the court declared the ward congresses in Imo State null and void. And if the court made this declaration in Imo State and those same delegates were those who went to Abuja to elect their national executives, it means that the vice that tainted the lower congresses also tainted the higher congress. So they have their rights.”
On whether INEC is the right place to take this complaint, Ozekhome said, “Even if INEC was at the convention and the court now make this pronouncement, which one has primacy? The court of law has primacy over whatever INEC must have observed. Many a times, INEC officials are complicit in the fraud.”
Former Deputy Director-General and Head of Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Enugu, Professor Ernest Ojukwu (SAN) said INEC has some powers which are quasi-judicial in making decisions about political processes. He, however, said the best option would have been to approach the courts for judicial interpretation in any intervention in a political party issue.
“In most cases, bodies like INEC may also want to approach the court themselves when they are in a quagmire as to which faction to recognise. So the best option is judicial intervention,” he said.