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Somehow, President Muhammdu Buhari and his men in the ruling APC have been carrying on as though there were no law—until the Supreme Court exposed—and nearly punished—the party, and its Ondo guber candidate July 28.
While Gov Rotimi Akeredolu has wriggled out of the legal maze (by 4-3 at the apex court log-rolling), the party has landed in a knottier mesh. Trouble will start brewing going into its July 30 national congress.
Justice Emmanuel Agim, in the majority lead judgement he delivered, pointed out how the APC made a sitting Governor Mai Mala Buni chairman of its party, contrary to the provision of the Article 17 of the party’s constitution.
The rulebook forbids any person from holding two elective offices, yet the party leader breached the provision.
“The vires of this decision of the party is non-justiciable,” Agim said. And three other justices nodded in unison.
Buni, therefore, has been an illegal chairman, conducting illegal party affairs for almost a year now.
Buhari appointed the governor in the wake of the ouster of former National Chairman Adams Oshiomole in 2020. The governor’s initial six-month tenure was later stretched long enough to oversee the nomination of Akeredolu then, and now a national congress where the party will choose a consensus candidate for the 2023 presidential election.
Even in her minority lead judgement which nearly disqualified Akeredolu on the grounds of Buni illegitimate chairmanship, Justice Mary Odili agreed the APC disregarded its own constitution and section 183 of the 1999 Constitution.
“Therefore when the second respondent (APC) put up a person not qualified to author its nomination by virtue of the provision of Article 1z(4) of its constitution and Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution to do so, that document has no validity, and thereby void,” she said.
If Buni nominating Akeredolu then was a nullity, the chairman organizing a congress, seeking consensus candidates can’t be no less illegal.
According to the apex court, had the PDP candidate Eyitayo Jegede joined Buni in the case seeking the disqualification of Akeredolu on the illegal sponsorship, the APC would be counting its loss in Ondo now.
“The person, who ought to be declared winner of the election is the first appellant (Jegede), who has the majority of valid votes,” she said. And Justices Ejembi Eko and Mohammed Saulawa agreed with her.
Political observers and even party members believe the end has now come to the impunity, seeing how vulnerable the party has become to both internal and external legal threat.
In about less than 48 hours, the APC national congress will tee off.
How Buni will manage it without the party imploding is already attracting attention.
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