Abuja Court Ruling: Tinubu, Ekiti Gov-Elect, Other APC Candidates Risk Disqualification

The Evangelist edition
October 3, 2022

THERE is growing concern in the All Progressives Congress over the judgement of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja which nullified the nomination of Governor Isiaka Oyetola and his deputy governorship candidate, Benedict Alabi, for the 2022 Osun State governorship election.

Ruling on a suit filed by the People’s Democratic Party challenging the nomination of Oyetola and Alabi, Justice Emeka Nwite agreed with the submission of the PDP on the grounds that Governor Mai Mala Buni who submitted their names to INEC violated the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act 2022.

The court declared that Governor Mai Mala Buni acted in contravention of the provision of Section 183 of the Constitution when he held dual executive positions as the Governor of Yobe State and the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of APC.

The provisions of Section 183 read in part: “The Governor, shall not, during the period he holds office, holds any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.”

While the legal representatives of Osun State governor had promised to appeal the ruling, its implication, Sunday Tribune learnt, is already causing panic in the ruling party.

According to legal opinions on the issue, the ruling in its current subsisting nature, means that all actions of Buni while in office as APC acting boss, stand invalidated.

These actions, include the signing of the nomination of Ekiti governor-elect Abiodun Oyebanji, as APC candidate for the June 18, 2022 poll in the state, the nominations of candidates for other outlier legislative polls, as well as the conduct of the party’s elective national convention which gave birth to the current NWC, among others.

The biggest threat posed by the ruling to APC, is the possible consequential disqualification of all its candidates for the 2023 poll, including the presidential ticket of Senator Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, considering that Adamu’s NWC, conducted the primaries.

Once the NWC is invalidated by the reason of Buni’s involvement, all actions of the NWC, would be deemed null and void.

Reacting to the unfolding legal drama, constitutional lawyer, Dr Kayode Ajulo, said “It is a plague that could have been avoided if only they took my position on Governor Buni’s chairmanship misadventures serious. But the judgement has vindicated me.”

In an earlier statement, dated July 31, 2021, he warned that the party could come to greater grief if Buni stayed, considering the subtle warning in the favourable majority decision.

On Saturday, Ajulo referenced the statement which read in part; “Without prejudice to the ratio decidendi of the majority decision of the Court, it is imperative to state pressistimo and very clearly too that with the unanimous position of the Apex Court that it appears the actions of the APC in permitting a sitting Governor as the Interim Chairman of the Party is in violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is my sincere view that the Interim Chairman of the APC should immediately step down. My humble but cosmic review of the judgment comes with an indication that the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni has to vacate his seat, as the Chairman of APC with immediate effect.”

Breaking down the implication of the Friday ruling, he said if the apex court goes with the decision of the high court, the current National Executive of the party, will have to go.

“If the Supreme Court upheld the judgment, the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, and other APC candidates for every elective position will have no business in participating in the 2023 General Election.

“Can one put something on nothing and expect it to stand? Unless some strategic steps are quickly taken, invalidation of the party’s executives and candidates across all levels will be a great disaster to the APC and could mark its total collapse. This development is a stern warning to politicians to henceforth have regards for law and reasoned thoughts,” he reasoned.

But the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr Felix Morka, a lawyer, dismissed the fears being expressed as misplaced.

Speaking with Sunday Tribune in an interview, Morka expressed confidence that the judgment of the High Court would be set aside by the Court of Appeal.

He maintained that Justice Nwite erred in his pronouncement.

He said:” The judgment of the Court is unsupportable. We are confident that the Court of Appeal will upturn the judgment.

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