Legal Nigeria

Justices’ position has no effect on our leadership, says party

All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday insisted that the minority verdict by Supreme Court justices in the judgment upholding Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s victory will not affect its national leadership.

Three justices in the minority judgment read by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, contended that Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni’s position as Chairman of the APC caretaker committee while being governor is against Section 183 of the Constitution.

But, the caretaker secretary Senator John Akpanudoedehe, said: “While it is not our intention to join issues with these commentators, the Supreme Court in its Wednesday judgment affirming the Election victory of the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu SAN had no bearing on the CECPC’s status and its membership.”

Despite the growing controversy, Akpanudoedehe said tomorrow’s ward Congresses to elect party executives will hold across the country on as scheduled, adding that it is sacrosanct.

Akpanudoedehe said the clarification became necessary, following the interpretations and opinion by some party chieftains on the Supreme Court judgement.

He added: “Ward Congress Committees of the Party has already been inaugurated and delegated with the responsibility of conducting, supervising, monitoring and giving feedback to the Party on the outcome of the scheduled Ward Congresses.

The party got the support from Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege and legal luminary Adeniyi Akintola, a member of the APC.

Another lawyer Isaac Kekemeke and party chief in Ondo State, said Buni should resign as chairman.

Omo-Agege said: “Yesterday, Wednesday 28th, July, 2021, the Supreme Court delivered its judgment dismissing the appeal initiated by Eyitayo Jegede against the election of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.

“Surprisingly, mischiefmakers, for obviously nefarious intensions, resort to misinterpret the said judgment vis-a-vis the purport of section 183 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), as it affects the APC Congresses scheduled for Saturday.

“Without much ado, it is important to state that the majority decision of the Supreme Court in Jegede’s case, emphatically dismissed the appeal and did not consider the issue of the provisions of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution. Neither did the majority decision make any comments on the competence of Governor Mai Mala Bumi as the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee.

“The appeal was dismissed on the ground of competence or lack thereof for the non-joinder of a necessary party to the suit at the lower court.”

Omo-Agege faulted the interpretation of the judgment by some critics.

He added: “It is therefore disingenuous, unsound and mischievous to attempt to misinform the reading public of what was not the ratio decidendi of the judgment of the court.

APC lead counsel Akintola (SAN), said the judgment has not affected the status of the caretaker committee.

Akintola maintained that the legal practice minority judgment is inconsequential adding that the majority judgment did not say that members holding political office cannot hold other positions in the party.

He said: “A minority judgment remains what it is. A minority judgment. It has no efficacy. It has no value. The only value a minority judgment has is for academic purposes and research. You cannot even cite it as an authority. Our adjectival law and jurisprudence do not allow for any efficacy to be attributed to minority judgment.

“Our judiciary has matured over the years and those of us who practice law, not “media lawyers” will know that no value is attributed to minority judgment. So what happened yesterday (Wednesday) is not strange. So, all the noise and hullabaloo is nothing. While should anybody in his or her right senses be attaching too much importance to something that should be in the realm of academic discourse? For those of us in the legal profession, you cannot even go to court and cite it.”

Akintola said Keyamo’s interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment cannot hold sway.

He stressed: “The positions of Caretaker Committee Chairman and Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC are very sacrosanct. You can take that to the bank. The position of the National Chairman of our party and the Secretary is sacrosanct. nd our members should entertain no fear at all. Our candidate in Anambra is on very firm ground.

But, the PYM leader Princess Zahra Mustapha Audu, maintained that the caretaker committee should step aside.

She said: “We have patiently watched to get the party’s reaction to the Supreme Court judgment yesterday (Wednesday) which we narrowly escaped losing. We congratulate Gov. Akeredolu of Ondo state who is an exceptional governor.

“We would have lost that state but for God. However, we are not prepared to take any chances anymore. We cannot keep playing this game with or party, with our future, with our lives. Enough is enough. We believe that within the APC, we have capable hands, former leaders regardless of generational differences at this point who can manage the affairs of our party. Why must it be one individual or the other?

“At this point, I think it is a bit selfish for us to expect a sitting governor who has several issues to stop manage in his state because we have a lot of insecurity in the country, we expect him to also man a party like the APC. I do not think we are being fair to him. Gov. Buni is doing his best, but as a party we are unfair. We have people who are not doing anything who can do handle this party and protect it.

“We should not rush and go ahead with the congresses or convention or whatever else is going on. Let us follow the law because our party will not muscle or bribe the judiciary. Do, we should not expect favours from the judiciary if we do not do the needful. So, it is for that reason that we are asking the entire Caretaker Committee to immediately step down and put people that can carry this party forward.”

A group, APC Concerned Members, appealed to Buni to resign in the interest of the party.  In a letter to Buni by its convener, Comrade Okpokwu Ogenyi, the group said: “If you keep holding on to power and we proceed with the Congresses, we may have planted our downfall for the nearest future especially in 2023.”

“We advise you immediately resign your appointment as Chairman, APC Caretaker /Convention Extraordinary Committee alongside other executive officers who are members of the Caretaker/Convention Extraordinary Committee of our great Party with immediate effect or holt the proposed 

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