APC congress: Omo – Agege faults Keyamo over alleged legal hurdle

The Deputy President of the Senate , Ovie Omo – Agege , has faulted the arguments canvassed by the Minister of State for Labour , Festus Keyamo that the ward congresses of the ruling All Progressives Congress ( APC) , scheduled  for Saturday , July 31, 2021, will amount to illegality if not put on hold in view of recent Supreme Court Judgement.

Keyamo had in the wake of Supreme Court Judgement which upheld the Election of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu  of Ondo State but in a minority ruling , frowned at  Mala Buni led National Caretaker Commitee of the party being a serving Governor .

He therefore urged the party not to conduct Congresses and convention under Governor Mala Buni leadership to avoid nullification of such exercise by courts of competent jurisdiction upon litigations to that effect by any of the opposition parties .

But the Deputy President of the Senate in a personally signed statement on Friday , faulted Keyamo’s argument by declaring that the Supreme Court Judgement did not in anyway , rendered Mala Buni led National Caretaker Commitee of the party illegal.

Omo- Agege in the Statement titled : “Why there is nothing stopping the APC Ward Congresses Scheduled for Saturday , 31st July , 2021 “, accused Keyamo of misinterpreting the judgement and that minority judgement is not as important as being portrayed by him .

The statement reads : ” A few while ago, I issued a statement expressing my legal opinion on the purport of the decision of the Supreme Court in-respect of Eyitayo Jegede’s appeal against the election of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and the misinterpretation of the said judgment from certain quarters, vis-a-vis the purport of section 183 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), as it affects the A.P.C Congresses scheduled for Saturday.

“I have however, taken time to critically digest and juxtapose the divergent views on the issue and came to realise that the mischief-makers propagating confusion aimed at misleading our party into a state of disarray, did not study the petition filed by Jegede at the lower Court.

“It is worthy to note, that a decision of court is only an authority for what it decides and nothing more. This was clearly stated by the Supreme Court in the case of SKYE BANK & ANOR V. AKINPELU (2010) LPELR-3073 (SC), Pp. 48-49, paras. E-B, as follows:

“It must be borne in mind always, that each case must be considered on its own particular or peculiar facts or circumstances. No one case is identical with the other or another. They may be similar, but never identical.

“Of particular importance is the fact that the Petition in Ondo State did not challenge the legality or competence of the APC Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Committee, but rather challenged the letter dated 27th July, 2020 forwarding the name of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and his running mate to INEC as the candidates of the APC, on the ground that Mai Buni  ought not to have signed the letter, him being the Executive Governor of Yobe State.

“From the clear content of the substratum of Jegede’s petition at the lower court, I find it very difficult to understand how it relates to the competence of the Caretaker/ Extra-Ordinary Convention Committee constituted by NEC of the APC.

“In other to deliberately misled gullible minds, one of the proponents for the cancellation of the Ward Congresses alluded to the fact, that if the APC proceeds with the Congresses, the opposition would simply wait till the APC Presidential Primaries in 2023 to disqualify our Candidate and destroy the party. This reasoning with all due respect, is not only tenuous in law, but strange.

“It is elementary knowledge that complaints touching on the nomination or election of leaders of a political party or issues as to membership of a political party are matters exclusively within the internal affairs of a political party and are not justiciable. The Supreme Court in the case of UFOMBA V. INEC & ORS (2017) LPELR-42079 (SC), Pp. 46-48, paras. D-B, clearly held thus:

“The law is trite that Courts jurisdiction is ousted in matters dealing with internal affairs or resolution of a political party regarding nomination or leadership of that political party as in this instant case.

“How the process of electing the leaders or Executives of the APC on Saturday, 31st day of July, 2021, can be relied upon by the PDP or any other opposition party, to disqualify our candidates in 2023, is what beats my imagination.

“Assuming but not conceding, that the grievances (if any) arising from the Congresses, would amount or qualify as a pre-election dispute and assuming the PDP or any other opposition  party has the right to challenge the outcome of the Congresses, such a right of action will not last in perpetuity. By 2023, the 14 days statutorily period provided for in Section 285 (9) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No. 21,) Act 2017 would have elapsed.

“In 2023, APC would have gotten substantive National Officers, State, Local Government and Wards Executives and the NEC of the APC will constitute and inaugurate the Committees to conduct the Presidential and Governorship primaries, how PDP will sue to disqualify our Presidential and all the candidates of the APC in 2023 remains mystical.

“As ministers in the temple of justice and noble men, we should all eschew mischievous behaviours and deliberate attempts at misinterpreting and misrepresenting the law to satisfy an egocentric agenda”.