The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress, (APC) has assumed a fresh dimension as the party has dared the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) and vowed to proceed with its March 26 National Convention.
The party has dismissed a letter written to it by the electoral umpire on the need to give the commission a fresh 21-day notice for its national convention slated for March 26. It also faulted INEC’s position that the letter by the acting Chairman, Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, was legally defective.
This was as the APC clarified that Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni remains the National Chairman of the CECPC, saying, the Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello is only operating in an acting capacity.
The clarification came about 24 hours after Governor Bello denied knowledge of any letter from Governor Buni authorising him to act as national chairman.
The spokesman of the party’s CECPC, Mr Ismaila Ahmed, disclosed this at a news conference in Abuja, on Friday.
He said: “It is pretty simple. I don’t know why this is a complicated issue for a lot of people to understand. Since the inception of this CECPC on June 25, 2020, whenever the chairman is not around and Governor Sani Bello is around, he acts on behalf of the chairman.
“He is our acting chairman and that has always been the case. That has never changed. And now we have a Convention on 26th March, the chairman wrote a letter for his leave to go for medical treatment. Those are two emergencies. He has a medical emergency that cannot wait for the Convention and we have a Convention that cannot wait for him to be healthy. So, one has to leave for the other.
“The chairman transmitted a letter and Governor Bello has been acting as appropriate. He is acting with the full authority of the CECPC and with the full authority of the stakeholders and leaders of the party and with the full consent and knowledge of Governor Mai Mala Buni. If anybody has any issues with any of our decisions, you can take it to court. For now, we know we are doing it with the full backing of the law. There is no ambiguity in this.”
According to him, the APC has given appropriate notice to INEC for its March 26 national convention.
He said the party had earlier intimated the commission of its intent to conduct its national convention on February 26 and that what is now required for its new date of March 26 is simply a notice of an adjustment and not a fresh 21-day notice.
“l am not only a Youth Leader or an interim spokesperson of the party, I am also a lawyer and we have served a notice to INEC for the 26th of February earlier and we served that notice on 5th February. That was the required 21 days. If you are going to make any adjustment to that date, all you need is a letter making an adjustment to the date.
“We don’t need another 21 days and that letter was written about two weeks ago. Immediately we realised that we couldn’t hold it on the 26th of February.
“The moment the CECPC agreed on the 26th March, that letter was written to INEC and they have accepted the letter. So, that is long gone. It is not an issue. The issue of the date of the Convention is not an issue, not in INEC, not certainly with us. That is settled. It is sacrosanct. We have complied with all the requirements and we have notified INEC as appropriately expected of us,” he stated.
INEC had in a letter dated March 9, 2022, and signed by its Secretary, Rose Oriaran-Anthony, drew the attention of the APC to the need to comply with extant regulations.
The letter reads: “Please refer to your letter Ref. APC/NHDQ/INEC/019/022/32, dated 8th March 2022.
“The Commission draws your attention to the fact that the notice for the meeting was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC (Buni and Akpanudoedehe) contrary to the provision of the Article 1.1.3 of the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018).
“Furthermore, the APC is reminded of the provision in Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 which requires ‘at least 21 days’ notice of any convention, congress, conference, or meeting convened for the purpose of ‘merger’ and electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any elective offices.’
“While hoping these issues are noted for compliance, please, accept the assurance of the commission’s warm regards.”
On the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting slated for next Thursday, the party said it was basically for ratification of the March 26 Convention date and to also update the house on the journey so far.
Ismaila Ahmed said the party’s Legal Adviser, Prof. Tahir Mamman, will address the public once some issues regarding the NEC meeting had been clarified, adding that notices had been sent out for the NEC meeting.
Kogi Gov’ship Election Petitions Stolen By Gunmen – Police
The Kogi State Police Command has confirmed that gunmen attacked the secretary of the state governorship election tribunal, Mr David Umar Mike on Monday in Lokoja and made away with sensitive petition documents on the just concluded gubernatorial election in the state.
The state police command’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP William Aya, disclosed this in Lokoja on Wednesday.
The police authorities said the attackers of the state governorship tribunal secretary carted away all the petition documents filed by five political parties at gunpoint.
According to the police authorities, the documents carted away from Mike include, petitions filed by four (4) Parties: Action Alliance (AA), Action People’s Party (APP), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) as well as two (2) Record Books/a Bag containing his personal item.
The police added that the incident happened just before the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) office at about 13:20hrs on Monday, while victims were on their way to the tribunal venue at the state High Court complex, Lokoja.
Police said, “On Monday, 04/12/2023 at about 1820hrs, one Mr David Umar Mike ‘m’ Secretary to Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal along with Labode Apreala (f) Confidential Secretary and Hassimu Adamu Assistant Secretary, came to State Criminal Investigation Department, Kogi State Police Headquarters and reported that on the said date, three of them left their Hotel rooms in Lokoja about 1300hrs, heading to their Office at the High Court Complex driving in his (David’s) Peugeot 406 Car.
“That just before the CBN at about 1320hrs, one SUV vehicle which had earlier overtaken him blocked his car with two other SUVs following behind.
“All of them surrounded and blocked him as he attempted to reverse. That he saw about seven hooded men all heavily armed and dressed in black attire who shot severally into the air and dragged him and his two other colleagues out of their car, ransacked the car and made away with all the petition documents.”
SP Aya added that the state Commissioner of Police, CP Onuoha Benthrand, had ordered for a thorough and diligent investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, the police command has advised the general public to avoid statements that may prejudice ongoing investigation into the matter even as the command appealed to anyone with useful information on the incident to provide same to the command.
SDP and the All Progressives Congress (APC) had traded words over the attack on Monday with both sides pointing an accusing finger at each other.
While the SDP alleged that the attack was perpetrated by hired political thugs, the APC said it was staged.
Benue LGs Dissolution Lawless – Senate Minority Leader
The Senate Minority Leader and Senator representing Benue South, Abba Moro, has condemned the recent dissolution of local government chairmen in the state by Governor Hyacinth Alia, describing it as “lawlessness”.
In an interview on live television, Wednesday, Senator Moro expressed his disapproval of the Governor’s action, stating that it was a violation of the Nigerian Constitution.
He maintained that the governor did not have the power to unilaterally dissolve elected officials, and such actions could only be taken through due process and legal means.
He said, “Let me say clearly from the beginning, the constitution doesn’t provide for caretaker. Two years plus ago, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Ekiti State that sacked council chairmen that the governors do not have power to sack local government council and constitute caretaker committees.
“And even went further to say that the state houses of assembly do not have power to dissolve councils and that the state governors do not hide under laws made by the state assembly to dissolve elected councils.
“How can you now say you are investigating 23 local governments, 276 council wards and all of them have been found corrupt? If you find somebody, prosecute him.
“The issue now is that the action that the State House of Assembly has taken which they said he followed is wrong. What is wrong is wrong.
“This is the lawlessness that is taking place in Benue State. Is that correct? We must rise up against this thing.”
Third Republic Lawmakers Demand Unpaid Salaries, Allowances
Former lawmakers elected in the Third Republic, on Wednesday, demanded the immediate payment of their unpaid salaries and allowances to make ends meet.
The lawmakers made the plea while leading a delegation of the Third Republic Forum to present an award of selfless service to an alumnus of the Third House of Assembly and current member representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency, Bayelsa State, Frederick Agbedi.
A member of the group, Basil Okafor, said President Bola Tinubu, who was elected Senator on the platform of the Social Democratic Party belonged to the set now battling to have their entitlements paid to them
“The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, an octopus in battle, has fought from 1992 till date to make input and he is today the President. We have a lot of problems that we now think that having a President who is one of us, having members of the House of Representatives and multiple Senators, that some of these problems can be addressed. We have problems with our claims and salaries that were not paid at that time. We have problems that we are seeking the face of this government to see how they can help us resolve.
“And we know that having Agbedi here, he can help us coordinate his fellow members to champion this cause and the press should also help us in any way to highlight some of these problems that are facing us because we are the old boys of this current government,” he said.
He noted that the rules governing the activities of the 10th House were put in place by the Third Republic lawmakers, adding that the current lawmakers now only amend the rules to meet current realities.
Also speaking, the National Organising Secretary of the group, Hajiya Amina lauded Agbedi for his contribution to the development of the Nigerian society.
“We are here this afternoon to honour our own, the man called Fred Agbedi. He is a man who represents the interest of his people, who even represents the interest of women and fought for the creation of the Ministry of Women Affairs. He is women-friendly,” she said.
Stressing the difficulty the Third Republic lawmakers are facing owing to unpaid entitlements, she said, “Many of us have died. When we came here, we were 593, but over 250 have gone. Most of the women are dead.
“Yesterday (Tuesday) was 31 years since we were sworn in as members of this parliament. Our grandchildren can now vote and be voted for but we still have problems.
“If Moshood Abiola and Babagana Kingibe have been honoured and recognized, we were the foot soldiers. We were the delegates that voted them into power. What about us? Why can’t we be honoured and our standing salaries paid?
“Some of us are half dead. I am also half dead because my engine is knocked. I am just trying to make life easy for myself. We are calling on the government and the President to help us.”
While thanking his guests for the honour done to him, Agbedi called on the Federal Government to quickly pay up the salaries and allowances owed to the ex-lawmakers saying, “All their entitlements should be given to them. Even the President, Bola Tinubu will benefit from this.”
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