Over 200 court cases threaten APC convention

0
245

The All Progressives Congress is currently battling no fewer than 208 court cases with some of them challenging the leadership of the party in various states and the legitimacy of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.

The cases, which among others, are seeking a declaration nullifying all state congresses under the leadership of the CECPC, are threatening the party’s national convention scheduled for March 26.

This came to the fore on Thursday as Yusuf Ali, an aide to the Yobe State Governor and CECPC Chairman, Mai Mala Buni, told one of our correspondents that Buni remained the APC chairman.

At a June 25, 2020 meeting presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), where Buni, emerged as the chairman of the caretaker committee, the party had asked all members with pending court cases to withdraw them.

To demonstrate the seriousness attached to the directive, the National Executive Council at its meeting on December 8, 2020, announced the expulsion of the former APC National Vice Chairman (South-South), Hilliard Eta, for going to court to challenge the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee.

A document obtained on Thursday, however, showed that in the last one year, 208 cases had been instituted against the APC. In some of the cases, litigants had obtained court injunctions restraining the party from conducting its convention or recognising the leadership of some states.

Nine cases challenge caretaker panel, seek indefinite postponement of convention

A breakdown of the document showed that nine of such cases were challenging the validity of the caretaker committee to continue to conduct the affairs of the party and were seeking the indefinite postponement of the planned convention.

One of such cases is the one filed by Mr Salisu Umoru against the APC, the Independent National Electoral Commission and Governor Buni.

In the case marked FCT/HC/CV/2958/2021, the applicant obtained an interlocutory injunction “restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants/respondents, their allies, agents, representatives, associates or whoever is acting for them or through them from organising, holding or conducting the national convention of the APC in January and February, 2022 or at any other date either before or after pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”

In another case instituted by Christian Abeh against the APC, the applicant in the suit marked FHC/ASB/CS/59/2021 challenged the appointment of Buni and averred that by virtue of section 183 of the 1999 constitution the chairman being the Yobe State Governor, “cannot validly be appointed as the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee.”

The plaintiff is seeking a declaration amongst others, that all decisions and actions taken by the chairman are null and void and of no effect.

In yet another suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1577/2021 filed by Princess Zahrah Mustapha, the plaintiff is challenging the validity and legality of the caretaker committee being that the chairman of the committee is the ‘sitting governor’.

She is therefore seeking for an order of court to “restrain the defendant from carrying out duties as the chairman CECPC and further planning convention.”

In a separate case marked FHC/PH/CS/105/21, the plaintiff, Ushie Eneji and 80 others jointly challenged the constitutionality of the national caretaker committee as well as the states caretaker committee on the grounds that Section 223 of the 1999 Constitution and Articles 17 and 20 of the APC Constitution does not recognise any interim caretaker executive officers at the wards, local governments, states and national levels.

The National Legal Adviser of the APC, Prof. Tahir Mamman (SAN), neither responded to calls nor a text message on Thursday.

Meanwhile, a letter on Thursday showed that Buni indeed willingly transmitted power to Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, to act as the chairman of the caretaker committee of the APC pending his medical leave.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State had on Wednesday stated that Buni transmitted power to Bello but Buhari later ordered that Bello take over the affairs of the party permanently after discovering that Buni and others in the party were not serious about holding the convention.

Buni writes handover letter to Bello

The letter dated February 28, 2022, was sent to Bello and other members of the caretaker committee before his departure.

The letter read in part, “This is to inform you that I will be embarking on a medical trip to the United Arab Emirates from today, February 28, 2022. I will resume office upon my discharge from the hospital.

“In my absence, I hereby transmit the functions of my office as the national chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee to you. This is to enable the committee to conclude all arrangements leading to the national convention slated for March 26, 2022 and other duties that may be required of the office.

“I invite all members to cooperate with Governor Abubakar Sani Bello by extending to him all the support that I have enjoyed from you.”

I didn’t receive Buni’s letter – Bello

But addressing a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, the Niger State governor denied receiving the letter.

“No, I haven’t seen it yet,” said Bello, adding that the party had also informed INEC of its planned convention for March 26.