Some Chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, APC, have disregarded the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, which barred party members from instituting legal actions before the court, on the composition of the new National Caretaker Committee, and the dissolution of the former National Working Committee, NWC,
Three weeks after the party’s National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting, an APC Leader, Barrister Kalu Agu, approached the court with a fresh suit challenging NEC’s dissolution of the former National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee.
Before Agu’s legal action, another APC Chieftain in Lagos State, Chief Lateef Arigbaruwo, had also filed a suit against the party, at the Federal High Court in Lagos, seeking the sack of the Caretaker Committee members.
Agu, a Youth Leader of the party in Abia State, is questioning the powers of the National Executive Council, NEC, to sack the National Leaders, barely two years out of their constitutionally guaranteed four year term of Office.
President Buhari had at the APC NEC meeting, which sacked the Oshiomhole-led NWC, on June 25, this year, directed that from that day, there should be no more litigation among members of the party, or against the party, and that cases in court involving crisis in the party, should be withdrawn.
The President had said: “In this regard, it is important to discontinue all litigation involving members of the party, which are connected to issues of the party, and in respect of which several Court Orders and Counter-Orders have been issued against the party, and some specific members of the party.
“This directive has been issued by the party before; unfortunately, some members failed to heed the directive. Thus, at this time, it must be made a Resolution of the party, which must be effectively enforced with dire consequences for members who choose to ignore the directive.”
However, in the fresh case with suit number: FHC/ABJ/ CS/736/2020, Agu is praying for an order of the Federal High Court in Abuja, to set aside the dissolution of the NWC, as resolved by the APC NEC meeting, which held at the Presidential Villa, last month.
He is also praying the court for an order restraining the National Caretaker Committee led by the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, from parading themselves as National Officers of the APC, and from usurping the functions of the party’s NWC.
The Plaintiff who further prayed the court for an order restraining the National Caretaker Committee from putting into effect the resolution of the APC’s NEC meeting passed on June 25, 2020, also asked for an order stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from recognising, dealing with, or relating with the Caretaker Committee in whatever guise, to usurp the functions of the NWC.
Similarly, the Plaintiff also prayed for an order of mandatory injunction, compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission to continue to recognise the Oshiomhole-led members of the NWC, as the authentic National Officers of the party.
In the suit filed on his behalf by Mr. Ukpai Ukairo, on July 8, the APC Chieftain asked the court to strike down Article 17 of the APC constitution, which provides for the appointment of Officers into the organs of the party, the ground that it is inconsistent with Section 223 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and section 85 of the Electoral Act of 2010.
Insisting that the 1999 Constitution guaranteed four-year tenure for party Officials, Agu argued that the APC NEC meeting on June 25, 2020, passed an illegal and unlawful resolution dissolving the NWC, and also setting up an illegal Caretaker Committee of the NWC.
Stressing that the setting up of the Caretaker Committee was in breach of the Constitution, he said that members of sacked APC NWC, had barely spent two years out of their four-year tenure in Office, before they were purportedly dissolved by the NEC.
Agu therefore, prayed the court for a declaration that the dissolution of the NWC was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void, as well as a declaration that the recognition accorded the Caretaker Committee is unconstitutional and illegal.
In a 44- paragraph affidavit in support of the originating summons, the Plaintiff who said that he is a foundation member of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, under which he contested for the House of Representatives in Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency of Abia State in 2011, stated that he and other members automatically became APC members, after the merger of the defunct legacies parties in 2013.
He maintained that he is an accredited APC member, and that he was elected as the Abia State Youth Leader in April 2014, during the State’s Congress, which held at Umuahia, adding that, the National Officers of the APC were also elected in 2014, in accordance with the party’s constitution.
Joined as Respondents in the case are: INEC, APC, Governor Mai Mala Buni, Isiaka Oyebola, Ken Nnamani, Stella Okorete, Governor Sani Bello, Dr. James Lalu, Senator Abubakar Yusuf, Hon. Akinyemi Olaide, David Leon, Professor Their Mamman, Isiaka Ahmed, and Senator Akpan Udoedehe.
Meanwhile, another APC member in Lagos State, Chief Lateef Arigbaruwo, had filed a suit against the party at the Federal High Court in Lagos, seeking the sack of the Caretaker Committee.
Arigbaruwo, in the suit number FHC/L/CS/789/2020, which also faulted the NEC meeting of the party that held on June 25, has the APC, Mr. Victor Giadom, NEC, and INEC, as the first to fourth Respondents, respectively.
Arigbaruwo who claims to be a Chieftain of the APC in Ojo Local Government Area in Lagos State, is asking the court to determine whether having regards to Article 25, paragraph B (i) and (ii) of the constitution of the party, the 24-hours notice given by the 2nd Defendant for the NEC meeting, which held on June 25, was valid and legal.
The suit which was filed on July 1, on behalf of the Plaintiff by Mr. Dimien Edonkumoh, is also seeking for “an order of the court setting aside all the decisions taken in the NEC meeting, which he declared illegal, on the grounds that it was conveyed on June 24, and held on June 25, contrary to Article 25 of the APC constitution”.
The Plaintiff, while asking the court to restrain the Caretaker Committee members from parading themselves in that capacity, also requested the court to grant an order allowing the APC National Vice Chairman, South-South, Mr. Hilliard Eta, to pilot the affairs of the APC as Acting National Chairman, and to preside at all meetings of the National Working Committee and NEC.