The All Progressives Congress (APC), risks being excluded from the forthcoming Anambra State Governorship Election following a Suit filed the Young Progressives Party (YPP) at the Federal High Court, Awka on Thursday. In Suit No. FHC/AWK/CS/69/21 filed on behalf of the party by D.C DeNwigwe, SAN, YPP asked the Court to interpret Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) in respect of the Nomination of Senator Andy Uba as the Candidate of APC by the party for the forthcoming Anambra State Governorship Election which took place under the National leadership of Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni. The party also asked the Court to nullify the purported Nomination because when it took place, the party’s National Caretaker Committee Chairman Mai Mala Buni was also the Executive Governor of Yobe State which is contrary to Section 183 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which states that a sitting governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.
Also in the Suit, YPP asked the Court to nullify the purported Nomination since Mai Mala Buni in his capacity as the Chairman of the APC National Caretaker Committee, joined one Sen. John J. Akpan Udoedehe PhD who both signed and submitted the Sponsorship Letters and Nomination Forms EC9 and EC9B and the Covering Letter of Senator Andy Uba and Johnbosco Okechukwu Anaedobe as APC’s Candidate and Deputy Governorship Candidate respectively for the forthcoming Anambra State Governorship Election.
Another prayer of YPP in the suit is for the Court to determine whether the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as a public regulatory body for political parties, is right to have accepted and acted upon the nomination of Senator Andy Uba and Johnbosco Okechukwu Anaedobe as the Governorship and Deputy Governorship Candidates of the APC for the forthcoming Anambra State Governorship Election.
The suit may not be unconnected with Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling on the election of Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu. Delivering the judgement, three Justices of the Apex Court namely Justice Mary Peter-Odili, Justice Ejembi Eko and Justice Muhammed Saulawa endorsed a minority judgement. After reading the dissenting judgement, Justice Odili added that Article 17(4) of the APC constitution which provided for offices that the party’s members could occupy at a time drew its strength from Section 183 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and that when APC put up a person not qualified to author its nomination by virtue of the provision of Article 1z(4) of the party’s constitution and section 183 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to do so, the document has no validity and thereby void.
The Apex Court however, didn’t nullify Akeredolu’s election despite the provision of Section 183 of the constitution (as amended) because the PDP governorship Candidate for the said Election that produced Akeredolu as governor, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, failed to join the APC National Caretaker Committee Chairman and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni in the Suit.
After the Supreme Court judgement, The Minister of State for Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo, SAN, said that APC risks being destroyed from top to bottom by the judiciary if the party chose to ignore what the Supreme Court Justices said. He further said that any other person affected by the actions of the Buni-led Committee will henceforth, not fail to join him in any subsequent case in court. According to him, these include any subsequent election matter in any part of this country and all the APC congresses that are about to hold. He also advised the APC to terminate the plans to hold its Ward Congresses on Saturday.
YPP joined five parties in the suit namely INEC, APC, Senator Andy Uba, Johnbosco Okechukwu Anaedobe and Mai Mala Buni. However, in a supporting Affidavit deposed by Peter Okoye, and written address, the party disclosed that Mai Mala Buni is joined in the suit in his personal capacity as the Chairman of the APC National Caretaker Committee and that his immunity as a Governor does not avail him having regard to the fact that the matter is an election related matter which is Sui generis.