...cracks as Lagos chapter pulls out of deal
… some leaders constitutional breaches
Palpable tension exist in the All Progressives Congress(APC) following the pulling out of some chapter from the recently granted tenure elongation to members of the Party’s National Working Committee and all elected or appointed party officials by the National Executive Committee.
APC, at its last NEC meeting on February 27, had announced a 12-month extension for its elected and appointed executives at all levels of the party.
The disagreement may have pushed some APC Chieftains into instituting cases in the Court over the tenure elongation handed over to Mr John Oyegun led National Working Committee.
Not long a member of APC from Imo State,Mr Uzochukwu Okere took the Party’s to court over her decision at NEC elongating the tenure of Oyegun led NWC by 12 month,another chieftain of the APC in Lagos State, Dr. Wale Ahmed, has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Lagos, challenging the decision of the party’s NEC to extend Odigie-Oyegun’s tenure.
The plaintiff, Ahmed, who is a former Commissioner for Special Duties in the state, in his originating summons in a suit numbered: FHC/L/CS/364/18, which was made available on Friday, said the decision to extend the tenure ran contrary to section 223 (1a and 2a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Ahmed is praying the court to declare as null and void and of no effect the elongation of the tenure of the NEC, contrary to the extant laws.
Joined in the suit are the Deputy National Chairman (South), Chief Segun Oni; Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu; National Secretary, Mallam Ibrahim Gubi; National Vice Chairman (South-West), Chief Pius Akinyelure; the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Worried by the decision of the ruling party which was found to be at variance with her constitution and the subtle moves being made by the Party to reconvene the NEC before the end of March,2018 to make ratification on the constitution amendement processes initiated by Oyegun through an adhoc committee inaugurated January 17,2017 and was headed by Muniz Banire SAN,APC’s legal Adviser to close every noticeable loopholes, some have vowed to reject the planned amendment, which according to them violates Article 13(3-4) of the APC Constitution and Section 223(1-2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Citing Article 13 of the APC constitution, which empowers the NEC to carry out the functions of the convention, the party said NEC decided to extend the tenure of the current NWC members and other executive committees at various levels for another twelve months, starting from June 30, 2018.
Though, the Party in her decision to extend the tenure saw it wise to prevent the likelihood of discord that might arise from a convention of the party in the run up to the 2019 elections.
Some members have challenged the process as according to them it is only a “mere expression of interest” cautioning that the amendment of constitution can only happen through a properly organized convention.
Moreso, the process by which the National Working Committee (NWC) under the chairmanship of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun had set up the Constitution Amendment Committee led by the National Legal Adviser of the APC, Mr. Muiz Banire on January 25, 2017, is being said to be at variance with Article 13(3-4) of the party’s constitution.
Article 13(4) of the APC Constitution empowers the NWC “to establish ad-hoc and/or standing committees of the party and appoint members to such committees”.
While Article 13(3) empowers the NEC “to ratify the type, nature and membership of the ad-hoc and/or standing committees to be set up by the National Working Committee”, a condition the source said the party leadership did not comply with.
Contingent on these provisions, some APC leaders have faulted the process that set up the constitution amendment committee in January last year, noting that the NWC constituted the committee without NEC’s ratification as provided in Article 13(3).
Also, some legal minds have warned that the path been followed by APC leadership would be at variance with Section 223(1-2) of the 1999 Constitution, which according to him, states clearly the processes, procedures and requirements for the emergence of political party officials.
Section 223(1) states that the constitution and rules of a political party “shall provide for a periodical election on a democratic basis of the principal officers and members of the executive committee or other governing body of the political party…”
Section 223(2) further states: “The election of the officers or members of the executive committee of a political party shall be deemed to be periodical only if it is made at regular intervals not exceeding four years.”
“The power to amend the party’s constitution can only be exercised by the National Convention. Even if the NEC can exercise the party’s constitution, it cannot amend it to deviate from the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
“Section 223(1-2) of the 1999 Constitution is clear about the conduct of national conventions and congresses. The section states clearly how the officials of parties at all levels can emerge at the end of their tenure.
The Party is said to be at cross-road and from our source even the Presidency is said be worried over joining in the fray of elongation, and is making efforts to see the NEC reconvened immediately to correct the anormally. Also, effort is being made to pacify the aggrieved leaders and the chapter to drop the cases.
However, the Party’s National Publicity Secretary,Mallam Abdulahi Bolaji, while reacting on the rejection of earlier decision of NEC on Friday in Abuja advised the Lagos chapter to wait for the next NEC or National convection to canvass her position.
Abdullahi said, “Well, that’s democracy. A decision has been taken by the second highest decision making body of the party, which is the NEC.
“If one out of the several chapters of the party disagrees, it does not invalidate the decision.
“The chapter concerned can wait for another NEC meeting or the National Convention to make its case; this is the beauty of party democracy. We have internal mechanisms for resolving whatever issues that arise and we advise that these mechanisms be explored.”said APC Spokesperson