The presidency yesterday explained why the All Progressives Congress (APC) held its National Executive Committee (NEC) at the council chamber of the presidential villa, saying no law was broken in the process.
The APC NEC last Thursday met at the council chambers, venue of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, a development that attracted criticisms from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But reacting to the criticism, the presidency said there was no law that says the president is barred from holding meetings in certain sections of the vast presidential villa.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, in a statement, explained that since the president lives in the presidential villa, no one can, legally speaking, choose or dictate to him where he can sit to hold meetings.
Shehu noted that nothing is wrong in the President presenting himself before a camera and a TV screen in a digital conference at a given location within the Villa.
He stated: “Just for the sake of the argument, this meeting, we say emphatically, was not convened at the Council Chamber. It was virtual, not a physical meeting.
“Why was it a virtual meeting? The idea was to observe social distancing in view of health concerns. Knowing how small the conference hall of the party is, social distancing would only have been observed in the breach.
“President Buhari was billed to address the meeting from his office (just any of his offices) and chose the Council Chamber where the digital facilities are located, and other members, including the bulk of National Executive Committee members, state party leaders and members of the National Assembly were all linked using video conference calls. You saw them all on TV.
“Yes, it is true that Governors and leaders of the National Assembly joined the President from the Chamber from where he spoke. But the larger body of the members in attendance was all connected via video calls.
“Do not forget that these are not the normal times in view of the COVID-19 circumstances in which we have found ourselves. President Buhari placed health and safety above courtesy to the party by not going to its headquarters.
“In the end, a wise thing has been done because the President wants to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus disease,” he added.
Stop Denying Your Wrong, PDP Replies Presidency
But the PDP yesterday asked the presidency to stop denying its wrong of allowing the NEC meeting of APC to be held inside the council chambers meant for FEC meetings.
The party said it was unfortunate that the presidency would post a denial even when the media and the public space were already awash with photographs and videos of the NEC meeting, with APC leaders physically in attendance inside the FEC chambers where President Muhammadu Buhari presided.
A statement by the national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted: “It is therefore shocking that the Buhari Presidency can state in denial that “this meeting, we say emphatically, was not convened at the Council Chamber. It was virtual, not a physical meeting.
“This is even when the world watched Mr. President addressing the applauding APC leaders, in addition to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Abubakar Malami, physically administering oath of office on the Chairman of APC National Caretaker Committee, Mai Buni, on the floor of the FEC chamber.
“It is a fact before Nigerians that the meeting was physical and only virtual to the extent that some members of the APC NEC members were linked via conference call”.
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