…Says Planned Gathering is Unconstitutional, Demands Delisting of Ruling Party …Consensus Mode for Choosing Party Officials Violates Electoral Act…Ajulo …We’ll Settle for Other Mode if Consensus Fails…Governor Sule …Rivers Delegates List Contain Dead Persons…Abe Faction The National Convention of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) slated to hold on Saturday, is already embroiled in land
…Says Planned Gathering is Unconstitutional, Demands Delisting of Ruling Party
…Consensus Mode for Choosing Party Officials Violates Electoral Act…Ajulo
…We’ll Settle for Other Mode if Consensus Fails…Governor Sule
…Rivers Delegates List Contain Dead Persons…Abe Faction
The National Convention of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) slated to hold on Saturday, is already embroiled in land mines as the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the Abuja division of the Federal High Court to declare the planned exercise unconstitutional and illegal. This is coming as a constitutional lawyer, Dr Kayode Ajulo says the consensus arrangement being adopted by the APC to elect its members may run into stone wall as it’s a violation of Electoral Act 2022.
In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/ 389 2022, and dated March 25, 2022, the PDP listed the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), the All Progressive Congress (APC), the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee(CECPC) and the Chairman of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee as defendants.
In the suit filed by its counsel, Mr Samuel Irabor, it is the case of the plaintiff that by a certified true copy of INEC’s list of APC’s current Exco, the party is being run by a 13 member Exco which is below the constitutional stipulations in Section 223 of the 1999 constitution that the Exco or Governing body of a political party must be drawn from 2/3 of the 36 states of Nigeria which is mathematically 24.
The PDP is therefore urging the Court to declare all the prior acts of the Mai Mala Buni led caretaker committee leading to the institution of the suit as well as all subsequent acts, including the convention of March 26 as null and void and proceed further to order a de-registration of the APC by INEC in line with Section 225A of the 1999 constitution.
Consensus is Unconstitutional
A Constitutional Lawyer, Dr Kayode Ajulo, says the consensus arrangement being adopted by the APC for the election of its national executive officers is a violation of the Electoral Act 2022.
Ajulo said this assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja, making reference to Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
“It provides that the election of members of the executive committee or other governing body of a political party, including the election to fill a vacant position shall be conducted democratically.’’
He said the section further allowed members of the party or duly elected delegates to vote in support of a candidate of their choice.
Ajulo, who has a PhD in Law, said that the provision means that the only mode of election of members of the executive committee or governing body of a political party shall be by direct or indirect election.
“It therefore implies that the Electoral Act, 2022 has expressly abrogated consensus mode of election of members of the executive committee or other governing body of a political party.’’
The lawyer said that the position of the law was clear to the effect that the provisions of the constitution or a statute should not be interpreted in isolation.
“It is settled that in interpreting the provisions or section of a statute or indeed the constitution, such provisions or sections should not be read in isolation of the other parts.’’
He said that the statute or constitution should be read as a whole in order to determine the intendment of the makers of the statute or constitution.
According to him, it is therefore apposite to draw inference from other provision of the Electoral Act, 2022 in order to arrive at a holistic conclusion.
“Section 84(2) of the Act provides that the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions shall be by direct, indirect primaries or consensus.
“Section 84(9) of the Act further provides that political party that adopts a consensus candidate shall secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position,”
According to him, this indicates their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate.
He said that the provisions of sections 84(2) and 84(9) of the Electoral Act specifically deal with conduct of party primaries
“One point that is clear is that if the drafters of the Act would have permitted consensus mode of election of members of the executive of a political party, it would have been stated.”
Ajulo however said that it was safe to conclude that the drafters never intended that consensus mode should be applied in the election of members of executive of a political party.
He said it was imperative to advise decision-makers of APC to be wary of the harms that would be occasioned if the members of the executive of the party were elected by consensus mode.
He said that if the consensus mode was used at the National Convention of the APC, it could be challenged by appropriate party members with potential disastrous consequences for the party at the general election.
He therefore admonished the party to immediately resort to direct or indirect mode of electing members of the executive at the National Convention.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the APC has adopted a consensus mode of electing its party executives ahead of its national convention slated for March 26.
Exploring Other Options
Nasarawa State Governor, Mr Abdullahi Sule said the APC will explore other options if the consensus arrangement does not work out at its convention slated for Saturday.
Addressing newsmen at the APC National Secretariat in Abuja, on Friday, Sule said at the moment, consensus is the first option.
He said the “unity list”, indicating consensus across the six geopolitical zones in the country would be ready between Friday and Saturday.
He added that appointees of the President who held key positions in the past and are qualified to become statutory delegates would be allowed to play their role as delegates to the convention.
“One thing I can tell you clearly, the leadership of this party, the stakeholders of this party, the governors are united.”
“Our first choice is always consensus. And we are still on that first choice. However, democracy demands, even our (APC) Constitution demands and the constitution of Nigeria demands that if that doesn’t work, we will go ahead and look at the other options. But right now, that remains our option.
“On the issue of political appointees of Mr. President, Some of them are actually statutory delegates. So if you have a former president as a political appointee, if you have a former senator as a political appointee, these are already automatic delegates. So let’s not confuse the two, because being an appointee doesn’t necessarily take you out of being a delegate, because our delegates are classified, clearly.
“Former president of our party, former elected this, elected that, party officials and the rest of that. I don’t think anybody who holds any political party office is actually right now a political appointee of the President, or the governors and the rest of that.
“We have had on the various regions, you know, that unity list will be ready today, you know, it will actually be submitted and somebody was asking whether it is for real. Of course, yes, we are going to have a unity list. If you are talking of consensus, you must have unity list, because that is the whole essence of consensus.
“You know, if you are having consensus, you are going to have people who have agreed; aspirants who have agreed, stakeholders who have agreed, and also the constituency that have agreed, and in that case, that name automatically will be adopted. And that’s just the meaning of the unity list. That is how unity list is going to be put together,” the Governor said.
Status of Delegates
The APC is also enmeshed in unending conflicts over the status of delegates. The Rivers State chapter of the party is embroiled in a scandal as the Senator Magnus Abe-led faction has alleged the inclusion of dead persons and those who had deflected from the party on the list of authentic delegates from the state.
The group is accusing the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, of inclusion of the names even as the leadership of the Rivers APC has described the action as “an obvious oversight”
Abe’s group has already submitted a petition jointly signed by former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Rivers state, Mr Worgu Boms, Senator Magnus Abe and Senator Wilson Ake among others, saying that it observed the deliberate inclusion of deceased persons on the delegates’ list already submitted for the convention by the Minister.
“We examined the list and found that it was inflated by adding names of deceased persons and persons who were never principal officers in the Rivers State House of Assembly (two categories of invalidity and nullity of delegates) status are attached to over twenty persons on the list in three broad categories of deceased persons, impostors, and persons who are no longer members of the APC”.
According to the petitioners such names as Chief D.U. Anucha, Hon. Apollos Amadi, Hon Martins Mannah, Hon Andrew Miller and Hon Felicia Tane who are included in the list had since died, yet they were named as delegates for the convention.
In another category, the petitioners stated that some of the names included on the lists were never in the position ascribed to them by the Minister and therefore should be regarded as imposters.
“They were so presented so as to bring them into the delegates’ category since being a member of House of Assembly is not. We do not say that they were not in the state legislature on the dates listed against their names. We state that it is not true that they were principal officers as claimed”.
The Abe faction of the party claimed that members like Hon Samuel Oguru, Hon Bob Fredrick, Hon Victoria Nyeche, Hon Collins Ordu, Hon Onari Brown and Hon Ibroma Kitchner were not principal officers in the Rivers state House of Assembly as described by the list.
Also in that category are Hon Gift Wokocha, Hon Lucky Odili and Hon Ishmael Singer on the delegates’ list in the category of present and past principal officers of the State Assembly.
Others are Hon Maureen Tamuno, Hon Chidiebere Okwu-Worlu, Hon Belema Okpokiri, Hon Charles Anyanwu and Hon John Bazia.
The petitioners said a letter they got from the Clerk of the Rivers state House of Assembly denied the claim that the above names were principal officers of the House when they were members.
Also, the petitioners alleged that three persons whose names appeared on the list had since defected to the PDP, hence are no more members of the APC in Rivers state and wondered why they should be included in the delegates’ list.
Hon Fred Igwe, Hon Aboko Agolia and Senator Osinakachi Ideozu, had since left or were not even members of the APC and therefore calls for questions why such names should be found on the list.
The petitioners however urged the convention committee to expunge such fake names from the list for the sanctity of the convention and the dignity of the party in particular.
Reacting to the allegation, Darlington Nwauju, deputy spokesperson of Rivers APC described the inclusion of the controversial names as an obvious oversight saying that it was a pity that Senator Abe’s style of painting Rivers APC in bad light has not changed.
He explained: “The State Exco of the APC was only inaugurated on the 7th of February 2022 and inherited a list of delegates which only required to be updated”.
‘What would it have taken Senator Abe as a member of the Accreditation Committee to draw the attention of State Exco to an obvious oversight? Must he and his group of friends always seek media attention?
“We see this as Senator Abe’s way of showing his group’s frustration at the outcome of the party’s decision to adopt the consensus method in choosing party officers in the 26th of March National Convention”, Nwauju stated.