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100 APC Members Sue Party, Buni Over ‘Illegal’ Caretaker Committee

100 APC Members Sue Party, Buni Over ‘Illegal’ Caretaker Committee
A file photo of APC Caretaker Committee Chairman and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, at the APC National Secretariat in Abuja on June 29, 2020.

About 100 aggrieved members of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State, have sued the Party, and its Caretaker Committee Chairman, Governor Mai Mala Buni, seeking dissolution of the 13-member committee and nullification of all their actions.

Also listed as co-defendant in the originating summon registered as Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/938/2021, are Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and others.

The motion for interlocutory injunction was filed by their lawyer, Mr Samuel E. Irabor at the Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday, 18th August, 2021.

According to the plaintiffs, the APC Caretaker Committee should be dissolved on the following grounds:

1. That the 13 members Caretaker Committee falls short of the constitutionally required 24 members spread across not less than two-third of the 36 States and the FCT for any governing body of a political party, whether substantive or acting, as stipulated under Section 223(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as altered).

2. That the headship of the Caretaker Committee by a sitting Governor holding dual executive offices is prohibited by Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 17(4) of the APC Constitution, 2014 (as amended)

3. That by Article 13(4)(xvi) of the APC Constitution, 2014 (as amended) only the National Working Committee rather than the NEC of the party can constitute a Caretaker Committee in whatever form, nature or guise.

4. That the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, who administered oath of office on Gov. Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State as purported Caretaker Chairman lacks the powers to do so under any provision of the APC Constitution, 2014 (as amended) as he is neither a member of the National Working Committee or even a member of the NEC of the APC.
Controversy hinged on legal clauses
The row over the status of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention (CECPC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has for a while threatened the fragile peace within the ruling party.

While disgruntled factions of the APC hold that there is a flaw in having Governor Mai Mala Buni remain as Chairman of CECPC, others argue that there is no constitutional breach in having a serving governor lead the party at the moment.

In a recent communique aimed at making clear its position on the controversy over the legality of CECPC and that of its chairman, the APC stated that;

On both issues, we will state the position and decision of the Supreme Court only. The decision here is the majority judgment of the Supreme Court which is now the Law.

The decision and judgment was read and concurred to by the justices who were in the majority. Any other statements in their various additional contributions by the justices complement the lead judgment.

It is therefore right to say that the issues and ratio in the lead judgment reflect the views of the majority. The minority judgment, although important as it is, is not the judgment of the court.

The statement further notes that the Supreme Court in its judgment affirmed the legality of the CECPC, stressing;

The court stated that the NEC under Article 13 (3) IV of the APC constitution has power to create, elect and appoint a committee and endow it with powers and functions. It drew a parallel with Article 33(3) of PDP constitution (2012) with similar powers granted to its National Convention which in turn appointed a National Caretaker in 2016, which the Supreme Court ruled legal in Sheriff VS PDP.

On the status of the Acting National Chairman, His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni, the Supreme Court held that he was appointed only in acting capacity, on temporary basis to carry out and fill in the seat of the National Chairman, pending the election of new officers.

It added;

The Apex Court also held that Mai Mala Buni’s position as Acting Chairman of the Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee is not contrary to the provision of Section 183 of the CFRN because the appointment, ad-hoc, is on a temporary basis which is not akin to Executive office or paid employment as envisaged by Section 183 of the CFRN.

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