There is fear among the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) following the findings by the Supreme Court that the Chairmanship of the party under Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State was unlawful and unconstitutional.
Seven Justices of the apex court had held that Buni’s position as an incumbent executive governor and also as acting caretaker chairman of APC at the same time contradicts and violates the Constitution of Nigeria and that of the party.
The revelation by the Supreme Court emanated in the judgement on the appeal marked: SC/448/21; including the cross-appeals marked: SC/501/21; SC/508/21 and SC/509/21.
Justices Emmanuel Agim, John Okoro, Lawal Garba, Tijani Abubakar, Mary Peter-Odili, Ejembi Eko and Mohammed Saulawa gave the judgement in Abuja.
They said the position of the law in the appeal filed before them by the candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in the Ondo election, Eyitayo Jegede SAN, in which they challenged the competence of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s nomination/sponsorship for the election by the APC, claiming that the letter conveying his nomination/sponsorship to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was incompetent, having been signed by Buni and others.
Jegede and PDP contended that by the provision of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 17 (4) of the APC Constitution, Buni acted unlawfully by being the Yobe governor and also serving as APC’s chairman at the same time.
The two appellants had argued that as such, the nomination/sponsorship letter signed by Buni for APC, notifying INEC of the candidacy of Akeredolu and Lucky Aiydatiwa (as governorship and deputy governorship candidates) was void.
The apex court justices after their finding of facts agreed that the law prohibits a person from holding two executive offices as in that of a governor and chairmanship of a political party in Nigeria at the same time.
Four of the justices, however, on technical grounds, declined to remove Akeredolu as Ondo governor on the ground that Mai Mala Buni’s name was not expressly stated on the appellants’ papers for him to defend himself.
Other three justices held contrary decisions, stating that since APC’s name was on the court process and its letterhead paper used in conveying the incompetent nomination, Akeredolu ought and should be removed from office.
Justice Emmanuel Agim read the lead majority judgment of the four justices which was supported by Justices John Okoro, Lawal Garba and Tijani Abubakar.
Justice Agim held that, since Jegede and the PDP made Buni the centre of their allegation of constitutional breaches, he (Buni) ought to have been made a party in the case to enable him to defend himself in line with the doctrine of fair hearing.
“The decision to allow Buni act as its National Caretaker Committee chairman was made by the APC, despite the provision of Article 1z(4 of its Constitution, thereby making the decision internal to the party”.
The other three, Justices Mary Peter-Odili, Ejembi Eko and Mohammed Saulawa held otherwise in their dissenting minority judgment.
Justice Peter-Odili was of the view that since the APC, for which Buni acted, was a party in the case, there was no need to include him as a party.
She added that having allowed Buni to act on its behalf in signing the nomination/sponsorship letter of its candidates in Ondo despite the clear provisions of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 17(4) of the APC Constitution, the party should leave by the consequences of its lawlessness.
“I do not agree with the majority judgment”, she said, noting that the APC, by Article 17(4) of its Constitution has provided for how its affairs should be managed and what offices its membership occupies at a time.
“This Article draws strength from 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 Section183 of the 1999 Constitution to do so. Therefore, that document has no validity, and thereby void,”she said.
Justice Peter-Odili held that it was unlawful and a violation of Article 17(4) of the APC Constitution and Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution for Buni to be serving as the national chairman of the APC and the governor of Yobe State at the same time.
Meanwhile, following the Supreme Court findings of facts, there has been apprehension and anxiety at the APC National Secretariat and among national leaderships as to what may become the fate of the party in the build-up to the 2023 general election.
A chieftain of the party, who did not want his name in print, said that the party has got good and great hints from the Supreme Court and would do the needful in the next few days.
“No one person has the monopoly of legal knowledge. At the time of making him the APC executive chairman, we did not consider that aspect of the law. I am so sure Governor Buni will soon be here for us to decide the next line of action.
“Our governors have become aware of the new position and they will all converge here to sort out ourselves from the claws of that law before it becomes too late”, he said.
“Several state chairmen of committees inaugurated by Buni have bombarded the national secretariat to know what is going on here in respect of the matter, and we have assured them that there is no cause for alarm.
“What happened in Zamfara in 2019 will not be allowed to repeat itself. So, as I said, we will do the needful very soon”.
However, Deputy National Publicity of the party, Mr Yekini Nabena has yet to address newsmen on the issue.
Rivers’ll Ensure Safe, Secure Environment For Economic Growth -Wike .
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said that his administration would continue to support security agencies in the state to ensure a safe and secure environment for the economic prosperity of citizens.
He said the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps, the Operation Sting and the revitalised C4i security outfits were set up to help provide security to stimulate growth and prosperity of all in Rivers State.
The governor spoke through the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, at the 2021 Conference/Annual General meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Rivers State chapter, in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
“This administration has embarked on aggressive infrastructural development and a very deliberate urban renewal efforts around the capital to attract local and foreign investors to stimulate our economy.
“We have also opened up local governments through quality road networks. Upgrade of various social and recreational facilities in various local government areas,” he said.
He commended the state chapter of the NIPR for the choice of the theme of the conference: “Nigeria’s Security Situation: A Factor in Reputation and National Development”, adding that stakeholders must begin to act in a very different, drastic and positive strategy to remedy the already battered reputation of Nigeria.
He urged the NIPR to use its expertise and experience to thrive to galvanise and stimulate the populace and government at various levels for the resuscitation of citizens sense of pride and responsibility of whatever was left of the nation’s image and reputation.
“All hands must be on deck, especially reputation managers to call on government at all levels to begin to act in ways and manner that will help to revive the battered image of this country,” he added.
Welcoming guests and participants to the conference, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, who is also the state chairman of NIPR, commended the cordial relationship existing between the institute and the state government under the leadership of Governor Wike who is a honorary fellow of the institute.
“Governor Wike has been very supportive of all the activities of the Institute. That is what you also get from a visionary leader who has changed the landscape of Rivers State with infrastructure, with various developmental projects that touch the lives of the ordinary man,” he said.
Nsirim said the state chapter of NIPR was proud to associate with Governor Wike for the giant strides he has recorded and would continue to record until the end of his tenure in 2023.
“As a chapter that is responsive to the development of Nigeria, we have chosen the theme for this year’s conference as our own way of contributing to the national discourse,” he said.
He said the conference would produce a blueprint that would guide national discourse and urged participants to contribute robustly to the conversation.
“It is expected that the fallout of the conference will re-engineer national security and national development with the aim to put our country on the path of rapid growth,” he said.
In his speech, the President and Chairman of Governing Council of NIPR, Malam Mukhtar Sirajo, emphasised on the need for all Nigerians to collaborate to fight insecurity currently confronting the country’s economic and political stability.
He welcomed the theme of the conference, saying that it was coming at the time the institute had gotten sufficient worry about national security, peace and economic development.
In his keynote address, Dr. Ike Neliaku, chronicled the increasing violent crimes that had claimed thousands of lives in the various parts of Nigeria, and submitted that the rising insecurity situation in the country had impacted and would continue to impact negatively on corporate and national reputation.
He said the worrisome development would have concomitant consequence on individual and national development.
Chairman of the conference, Chief Felix Otuwarikpo, said the conference was put together to dissect the current carnage affecting the Nigerian nation.
“As an institute, we will leverage on the conference to proffer solutions to the security challenges affecting the nation,” he said.
The conference also featured the presentation of awards for good public relations and community development to some distinguished members and organisations.
Church Of Nigeria Honours Wike, Sanwo-Olu, Akeredolu, Others
The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has bestowed awards for exemplary leadership qualities in a challenging economy and dedication in the service of God and humanity on the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and Ogun State Governor, Adedapo Abiodun.
Also honoured is the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Emmanuel Abayomi, with an award for quality and equitable healthcare delivery.
The awardees were honoured at the standing committee meeting of the Church of Nigeria, at the Diocese of Lagos, Archbishop Adebola and Oluranti Ademowo Resource Centre, Faith Plaza, Bariga, Lagos State.
The Primate of All Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba, who conferred the awards on the recipients, said the political leaders were considered for the award for their outstanding role, courageous leadership, and standing firm in defense of Nigerians against insecurity, provision of basic infrastructure to the citizenry and the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
Addressing the congregation on the state of the nation and the role of the church, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, admonished the leadership of the church to encourage its members to be part of the governance process in the country.
The governor noted that a situation whereby Christians leave governance for politicians alone is no longer obtainable.
According to Wike, the effect of bad leadership will also affect the church if they remain passive to the issue of governance.
“You must be part of choosing leadership. Don’t say you have no role, you have a role. When you don’t participate, bad leaders will emerge and when bad leadership emerges, you are part of it.
“You must encourage your people to be part of leadership. I didn’t go to any school to study leadership.
“So, nobody should say that as a Christian you cannot be a governor, no. The head of SUBEB in my state is a priest and you can see the leadership he has given to that agency today. You will feel proud about it. That used to be the most corrupt agency, but today it is headed by a priest and you can see the difference.”
Wike decried the inherent injustice that has characterised the Nigerian State, and urged the church to speak against socio-political issues adversely affecting the progress of the country.
“We say we are all one Nigeria. We went to World Bank to borrow money to do specific projects. One of the states that make up Nigeria I hear is Rivers State. And I also know in paying this money back to World Bank, money that comes from the resources of my state will be used in paying back this money. But my state was denied to have projects from that loan.”
The Rivers State governor said a situation where states depend on the Federal Government to survive can no longer be tenable, and insisted that states must be allowed to collect revenues such as Value Added Tax (VAT) to enable them improve the welfare of their people.
“You have gone to take loan and I am one of those states that will pay back those loan and you deny me to benefit from the projects that that money will be used for. I have no problem with that.
“Allow me the one (VAT) the Constitution says I am entitled to, let me collect that one and develop my state.”
He regretted that some governors in Nigeria have refused to think out of the box on how to boost economic activities in their states.
“There is flood in my state, it requires N200millon, I will go to Abuja to beg. Even as a governor, I will knee down before a DG of an agency of government. You will knee down for a director just because of N300million. That is the status of some of the governors of some states.”
In his remarks, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, commended the church for its support, and announced the waiver of N2billion for land acquired by the Church of Nigeria in Lagos State.
The governor stated that Nigeria and the rest of the world are going through difficult times amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, and used the occasion to canvass for mass vaccination of the citizens.
The Primate of All Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba, while speaking on the theme of the conference: “Abiding in Christ: God’s Panacea in an Unstable World”, lamented that Nigeria was fast becoming a land flowing with tears and blood because of the impact of terror, banditry, herdsman attacks on communities and kidnapping.
He said a situation in which communities that are predominantly Christians are targeted one after another in some parts of Kaduna State and North-Central of Nigeria was unacceptable.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to brand the bandits and herders attackers as terrorists and let them be treated as such.”
The Primate urged Nigerians to avail themselves the opportunity 2023 general election offer to exercise their right to choose new leaders.
He appealed to the Federal Government to urgently address the free fall in the value of the country’s currency because of the attendant impact on the store of value and confidence of investors.
Rivers Begins Process To Check Flooding
The Rivers State Government has said that it was working with relevant agencies to roll out the process that would check perennial flooding in the state.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, disclosed this at a media briefing in Port Harcourt, last Wednesday.
Nsirim, therefore, called on those living and doing business in the state to play their part in line with the programme that would be executed by government to address the problem of flooding.
He frowned at the situation where residents of Port Harcourt had turned the drainage systems into refuse bins, and warned that “that is not what it should be.
“The present administration under Governor Nyesom Wike is desirous to make Rivers State a destination of choice and that is why the government has embarked on massive infrastructural development in line with its urban renewal programme.
“So, what is expected of those living and doing business in Rivers State now, is to co-operate with government to ensure that the urban renewal programme and the plan by government to make this state a destination of choice is realised,” he said.
He noted that the state government could not do it alone as it required the support of corporate organisations, civil society groups, religious organisations and the media to enlighten their publics on the need to behave as responsible citizens.
He called on the media to embark on massive enlightenment programmes along the line of the roles of citizens in checking flooding in the state.
“We believe that if the citizens cooperate with government, as government is out to ensure that everyone living and doing business in the state does so in a healthy environment, we believe that in the next few days or weeks we will find a solution to this (flooding),” he said.
Nsirim also announced the names of entrants selected for the essay competition on the title, “Our State Our Responsibility” introduced under the second phase of the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign of the ministry launched at the beginning of this month.
He said those shortlisted were expected to be at the conference room of the ministry by 11am on Monday, September 27, 2021, for a physical test to ascertain their original ownership.
Those shortlisted are: Jessica Hart, Samuel William, Amarachi Chimezie, Jasper Dorcas, Jaja Tamunoimiegba Christian, Sophia Oyibo, Blessing Pepple, Anyiam kelechukwu, Deborah Adegbami, Gift Samuel, Okiche Golden, Okiche Miracle, Orovwigwo Deborah, Otuka Goodluck and Ziga Paago.
By: Beemene Taneh
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