Lawyers who are members of All Progressives Congress (APC) have asked the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee to heed the pronouncement of the Supreme Court on the Ondo State gubernatorial election which questioned its legality.
They insisted that the contrary position of the party’s legal adviser, Mamman Tahir, would put the party in danger.
On the heels of the apex court judgement which upheld the election of Rotimi Akeredolu as Ondo State governor, minister of state for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), had warned the party against ignoring the apex court’s minority verdict which questioned the legality or otherwise of the Buni committee to conduct congresses and nominate candidates.
The position of the minister who himself is senior advocate of Nigeria was countered by the Attorney-general of the Federation and minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN); the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, and others who gave the Buni-led committee a clean bill of health, insisting that its activities are legal.
But the issue took another dimension yesterday when concerned lawyers within the APC said the APC may have escaped narrowly at the Supreme Court but should not continue on the part of illegality.
In a statement they issued which was signed by Joke Murgan, the concerned APC lawyers said, “We have read with consternation and embarrassment the mere personal opinion regarding the judgment of the Supreme Court circulated by the legal adviser to the party as an authentic news item – because he is trying so hard to please his masters and save his job, thereby putting the entire party in danger.
“For the sake of clarity, the Supreme Court did not affirm Buni’s headship of CECPC as lawful. The Supreme Court rather refused to pronounce on it definitively until Buni is made a party to a pre-election matter or a civil suit. The Supreme Court did not even clothe him with immunity in this regard. It was silent on it.
“The Supreme Court only reaffirmed the right of APC and any political party to constitute Committees like the Caretaker Committee, to run its affairs on an interim basis. Nobody has ever questioned this right. What is in issue is the legality or constitutionality of Buni, a serving governor, appointed to head such a committee and the full effect of this breach, if considered on the merits”.
They legal practitioners drew the party’s attention page 37 of the lead judgment of the apex court, which reads: “So the contention that Governor Mai Mala Buni as Governor of Yobe State has violated Section 183 of the Constitution by holding the office of acting National Chairman of the 2nd Respondent is a very serious one with grave consequences for him and no doubt for the 2nd respondent (the APC) as well.
“The judicial determination of that issue here would involve the enforcement of the Constitution against him and would certainly affect him personally as we have shown above. It would be unfair to him to try that issue in his absence without joining him as a party to the petition”.
The lawyers noted that with that pronouncement, “the APC is still on slippery grounds on this issue.
“The attention of stakeholders may not have been drawn to these provisions before, but now that they know, should a party like the APC continue on the part of illegality and a violation of its own Constitution? We may have escaped narrowly at the Supreme Court, but must we continue on the part of illegality? This is the question all stakeholders must ponder upon”.