Connect with us

Featured

The Banana Peel Under APC’s Rickety Chair: The Booby Traps That Lie Ahead

Published

on

By Chief Mike A.A. Ozekhome SAN, OFR, Ph.D.

INTRODUCTION

The APC has ruled Nigeria for over 6 years. It has failed in all indices of governance. The three core areas on which President Muhammadu Buhari campaigned as its candidate, have been honoured more in breach than in observance. They are economy, security and corruption. Each pigeon hole oozes with the putrefaction of non-performance and abysmal failure.

Nigeria is worse off today under the APC than she was in 2015. Not a few Nigerians pray every day that the Party should be booted out of power with the urgency of yesterday. Some Nigerians have since mounted a calendar, counting how many days more Buhari has to remain in office before vacating same upon effluxion of his mandatory 2 terms tenure of 4 years each. Just 668 days. Only 668 days for Buhari to leave power; many celebrate. They count days. Some count weeks; some others, months. A beleaguered Nigerian wrote to me that he is only counting hours (16, 032 hours). Another added humorously that he prefers to count minutes (961,920 minutes)! Such is the disillusionments and regrets of the APC- Buhari administration.

The realization that Buhari under Nigeria’s constitutional organogram cannot have a third term gladdens many hearts, giving them a ray of hope; some light at the end of Nigeria’s dingy asphyxiating and strangulating tunnel. But, Nigerians do not know how to go about ensuring that another Emperor Buhari does not come back. They fear there would be no free and fair elections in 2023. What with Senate’s unpatriotic and undemocratic rejection of electronic transmission of votes, and the House of Representatives’ double-speak on it! Not few Nigerians believe that the outright rejection of electronic voting is preparatory to APC’s readiness to massively rig the 2023 elections, knowing it has performed below average in service and democratic dividends-delivery. So, Nigerians belly-ache. They gnash teeth.
However, Nigerians may now heave a sigh of relieve. Unwittingly. From the most unexpected source: the Supreme Court. There are many ways to kill a stubborn rat that enters a calabash without breaking the calabash itself. The cheapest opportunity is the current banana peel that sits like an emancipator under the APC’s rickety and crincky chair of nepotism, sectionalism, prebendalism, cronynism, apaque3ness in governance and poverty spread.

THE SUPREME’S JUDGMENT

It is the Wednesday, July 28, 2021, Supreme Court judgment in the Eyitayo Jegede V. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Appeal Nos: SC/448/21; SC/501/21; SC/508/21; and SC/509/21. The judgment was a very narrow 4 – 3 split decision in favour of Akeredolu. What a narrow escape! Aketi needs to go to Church for special thanksgiving.

The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Ondo election, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, and his party, the PDP, had challenged the competence of Akeredolu, SAN’s nomination/sponsorship for the election by the APC, contending that the letter conveying his nomination/sponsorship to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was incompetent, having been signed by Buni and others. They specifically urged the Court to determine whether Buni as a sitting Governor of Yobe State, could simultaneously double as the National Caretaker Committee Chairman of the APC (NCCC) to sign the nomination of Akeredolu, SAN, for the said governorship election.

They contended that by the provisions of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 17 (4) of the APC constitution, Buni had acted unlawfully by being the Yobe Governor and serving as APC’s NCCC Chairman, all at the same time. They contended that because of this vice, the nomination/sponsorship letter Buni signed for the APC, notifying INEC of the candidacy of Akeredolu and Lucky Aiydatiwa (as APC’s Governorship and Deputy Governorship candidates) was void. They then urged the apex court to void the July, 16, 2021 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Akure Division, which had validated Akeredolu’s election.

THE MAJORITY DECISION

In his lead majority split judgment, Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim held that, since Jegede and the PDP made Buni the centre of their allegations of constitutional breaches, he ought to have been made a party in the case to enable him defend himself in line with the doctrine of fair hearing.

The Supreme Court proceeded to uphold the earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal, to the effect that the petition filed by Jegede and his party to the election tribunal was incompetent because they failed to join Buni as a party.

Justice Agim held: “The appeal was based on the ground that Mai Mala Buni, the Chairman of the NCCC of the second respondent (APC), was holding office as the Governor of Yobe State, contrary to the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999).

“All the issues raised, revolved around Mala Buni. But, Mala Buni, who is at the centre of the dispute was not made party to the petition. It is obvious that the determination of the said issues will affect him.
“Therefore, the court below was right to have held that he was a necessary party to this suit. Failure to join him renders the determination of the matter impossible. To proceed to do so would have violated the fair trial of the case.

“Therefore, we affirm the lower court’s decision that the petitioner was incompetent.

“There is no dispute that the third and fourth respondents (Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa) were nominated by the second respondent (APC) as its candidates for the election; that the second respondent submitted their names to the first respondent (INEC) as its candidates, in accordance with Section 31(1) of the Electoral Act.

“They were therefore sponsored by the second in accordance with Section 177(c) of the Constitution (1999). It is not in dispute that Mai Mala Buni is acting as the National Chairman of the second respondent,” he said.

Justice Agim therefore held that the decision to allow Buni act as its National Committee Chairman (in the interim) was made by the APC, despite the provisions of Article 17 (4 of its Constitution, thereby making the decision internal to the party.

He added: “The second respondent (APC) allowed him (Buni) to be its Chairman in the interim inspite of Article 17 of its constitution.

The vires of this decision of the party is non-justiciable. This appeal fails and it is hereby dismissed,” he held.

THE MINORITY DECISION

The minority judgment differed in all material particular from this majority opinion.

In the lead minority judgment, Justice Mary Peter-Odili (who also presided on the panel) upheld Jegede’s appeal and dismissed the cross-appeals by INEC), APC, Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa; just as the same majority Justices had also done.

Justice Odili was of the firm view that since the APC, for which Buni acted, was already 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 live by the consequences of its lawlessness.

“I do not agree with the majority judgment,” she dilated emphatically, noting that the APC, by Article 17(4) of its Constitution has provided for how its affairs should be managed and what offices its members should occupy 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 17(4) of its Constitution and Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution to do so, that document has no validity, and thereby void,” she said.

She noted that the implication was that the nomination and candidacy of Akeredolu and his Deputy was a complete nullity and that the person, who ought to be declared winner of the election” is the first appellant (Jegede), who has the majority of valid votes.”
Justice Peter-Odili further held that it was unlawful and amounted to 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.

Justices Ejembi Eko and Mohammed Saulawa concurred with Justice Peter-Odili in upholding the appeal and dismissing the cross-appeals filed by INEC, APC, Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa.

LEGAL ANALYSIS

THE LAW

Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution provides as follows:
‘‘The Governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever’’.

If there was any doubt as to the dangerous implications of this section in Buni acting as the APC National Caretaker Committee Chairman, section 17 (iv) of the APC Constitution is quite clear and unambiguous on this. It provides that “No official of the party shall at the same time hold any Government position in any Government institution”.

Thus, while the 1999 Constitution views Buni’s appointment from the position of Governor (Executive) to the party, the APC Constitution takes the reverse view of Buni’s appointment from the APC to the Governor (Executive). So, head or tail, position APC is in trouble.

CANONS OF STATUTORY INTERPRETATION

Canons of statutory interpretation are clear to the effect that when a statute is enacted in clear words, such words should be given their natural, usual and ordinary meaning in their interpretation. This shows the intent of the Legislature. See Ikpaezu V. Ogah & Ors (2016) LPELR-40845 (CA); Ofodile & Anor V. Aliozo & Ors (2021) LPELR-54159 (CA); Gana V. SDP & Ors (2019) LPELR-47153 (SC); Skye Bank V. Iwu (2017) LPELR-42595 (SC).

The Supreme Court majority judgment did not disagree with the fact that Mai Mala Buni as Governor of Yobe State was not competent to function as National Chairman of a political party (APC) and nominate a candidate for election through the INEC. Its view (and this must be respected) is based mostly on the rather technical stance (also earlier adopted by the Court of Appeal), that the non-joinder of Buni as a party in the suit was fatal to the PDP and Jegede’s appeal. Was it really? How, when the APC, which sponsored Buni, and for whom Buni at all material times acted as an agent was already a party to the suit? I do not and cannot understand this. Or, do you? The law is trite that you do not need to go after an agent (Buni) where there is a disclosed principal (APC). Such a disclosed principal is solely liable for its agent’s authorized actions, as the agent is not personally liable. See Okafor V. Ezenwa (2002) 13 NWLR (Pt. 784) 319; Osigwe V. PSPLS Management Consortium Ltd (2009) 3 NWLR (Pt 1128) 378.

EXTRAPOLATIONS FROM THE SUPREME COURT’S JUDGMENT

The simple conclusion is that if Buni had been joined as a party in the suit, the story would have been different, as the APC would have lost Ondo State to the PDP. Pronto! It is that simple. Indeed, it is rare to see such a close shave of 4-3 split judgment by the Supreme Court. Minority decisions are usually more rigorous and better researched as they seek to swim against the tide of the majority opinion that may be tyrannical.
The Supreme Court’s judgment has simply furiously (perhaps, inadvertently), weaponised all those that would be aggrieved by the APC’s forthcoming Congresses and other elections. They only need to go to court to challenge the competence of the Buni-led NCCC to organise the forthcoming Congresses and National Convention. Thus from bottom to top, the APC’s amorphous structures made up of disparate tendencies have been irretrievably damaged, nay, destroyed. All Congresses, meetings, conventions and elections that henceforth have the imprimatur of Governor Mai Mala Buni are subject to being quashed by the court at the instance of any aggrieved party member. Indeed, all actions so far taken by the Buni-led NCCC in that capacity can be quashed by any aggrieved member of the APC. Such a member has locus standi if he can show his membership card. Here comes the banana peel! APC will slip. And the fall will be thunderous. And Nigerians will applaud. God, how mighty thou Art!

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Featured

We’re Not ‘Officially Aware’ of Anyone Working Against Tinubu’s Victory – FG

Published

on

By

The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said it was not “officially aware” of any entity in the Presidential Villa working against the victory of the All Progressives Congress’ flag bearer, Bola Tinubu. It also said that President, Muhammadu Buhari was neither favouring nor disfavouring any presidential candidate ahead of the February 25 election.

“If there’s anybody who is working against any candidate, we don’t know officially,” the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, told State House Correspondents after this week’s Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by the President at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, alleged that some “elements” in Aso Rock are working against Tinubu’s emergence as President.

El-Rufai, who spoke on a Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, explained that the persons in question were aggrieved that Tinubu defeated their candidate in the June 2022 APC presidential primary.

He cited the naira redesign policy as one of several schemes targeted at the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu, who also made a similar claim a week earlier.

According to El-Rufai, “I believe there are elements in the Villa that want us to lose the election because they didn’t get their way; they had their candidate. Their candidate did not win the primaries.

“They are trying to get us to lose the election, and they are hiding behind the President’s desire to do what he thinks is right. I will give two examples: this petroleum subsidy, which is costing the country trillions of Naira, was something that we all agreed would be removed.

“In fact, I discussed with the President and showed him why it had to go. Because how can you have a capital budget of N200b for federal roads and then spend N2 Trillion on petroleum subsidy? This was a conversation I had with the President in 2021 when the subsidy thing started rising. He was convinced. We left. It changed. Everyone in the government agreed, and it changed.

“The second example I will give is this currency redesign. You have to understand the President. People are blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for the currency redesign, but No. You have to go back and look at the first outing of Buhari as President.

“He did this; the Buhari-Idiagbon regime changed our currency and did it in secrecy with a view to catching those that are stashing away illicit funds. It is a very good intention. The President has his right. But doing it at this time within the allotted time does not make any political or economic sense.”

But fielding a question on the issue on Wednesday, Mohammed argued that the Buhari-led government has been fair to all candidates regardless of party affiliations.

He said, “On a more serious note, one thing I can assure you is that, no matter who, this administration is focused and determined to ensure a free and fair election. And I think this administration, and for that matter now, the most important person in this regard is Mr. President.

“I think he has shown by words and deed that he is committed to a free, fair and credible election. And fair, free and credible elections mean not favouring or disfavouring anybody.

“Everywhere he goes, he makes that very clear, even as recently as Friday, when he was in Daura. He said the same thing. So if there’s anybody who’s working against any candidate, we don’t know officially.”

Speaking in Ogun State last Wednesday, the APC presidential candidate alleged plans to sabotage the coming election.

Tinubu cited the naira redesign policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the lingering fuel crisis and as part of plots to thwart the polls and his expected victory.

Continue Reading

Featured

2023 Elections: INEC Deploys 707,384 Presiding Officers

Published

on

By

The Independent National Electoral Commission will deploy 707,384 presiding officers for the general elections scheduled to commence on February 25.

The commission also said that since electoral education was important, there was a need to infuse it into the National Values Curriculum of primary schools in Nigeria.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, stated these during the public presentation of the Electoral Education Curriculum and Teachers’ Guide for primary schools.

The curriculum which was developed by the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening  – Sustaining Electoral Engagement for Democracy project funded by USAID and FCDO and implemented by National Democratic Institute and IFES, was in partnership with the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council, INEC (through the Voter Education Department), National Orientation Agency, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All and academia from across the country.

Okoye said, “We believe that electoral education is important in the goals of our nation. Electoral education is a specialized area and that is why we have this curriculum being infused into the National Values Curriculum in our primary schools.

“For instance, for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the commission will deploy a total of 707, 384 presiding officers and assistant presiding officers.

“These presiding officers will be drawn from the crop of young men and women doing their National Youth Service Corps, while the assistant presiding officers will be drawn from students from federal tertiary institutions.

“It is therefore important for us to understand the importance of electoral education in the development of our democracy.

“A national civic education curriculum and teachers’ guide with a specific focus on electoral education will prepare our children for the challenges ahead and also prepare them on how to respect other people’s races and also prepare them to assume leadership in future.”

The President of IFES, Anthony Banbury, said its contribution to the project was to strengthen Nigeria’s electoral process through effective teaching and learning of civic education in primary schools.

“To catch them young, the revised curriculum is a hallmark innovation that will introduce children and youth very early to the concept, processes, ethics, and values of democratic systems and governance.

“It will be essential for the young people’s orientation to initiate a shift from the existing norms. In the long term, it will increase civic participation and knowledge of democratic systems and values, as the children of today become the adults and the voters of tomorrow,” Banbury said.

The Executive Secretary of NERDC, Prof. Ismail Junaidu, said the aim was to strengthen the fabric of the nation’s democracy for sustainable growth and development.

According to him, since the return of democracy in 1999, citizens’ participation in elections and the electoral process had remained an issue of concern.

He also said that a known reason for this was the lack of adequate electoral knowledge.

“Hence, promoting democratic electoral culture and developing civic skills are therefore necessary for well-informed and responsible participation in elections and in the electoral process,” Junaidu said.

He said that the above informed the initiative of the NERDC in collaboration with IFES to develop the Electoral Education Curriculum for primary schools in Nigeria.

According to him, the curriculum, generally, is developed to expose young learners to the rudiments of democracy and inculcate in them the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for active citizens’ participation in the democratic process.

“Specifically, the curriculum is designed to achieve five key objectives, which are to: equip learners with basic knowledge of the concept of democracy, the role of elections in democracy and good governance.

He said the choice of primary school learners was hinged on the core principle of using education as an instrument of socialisation for the young to assume adult roles for the good of society.

“Thus, the teaching of electoral education at this level will ensure that when children reach voting age, they would have already understood the fundamentals of active participation in the political and electoral process,” Junaidu said.

While commending the management of NERDC for the initiative, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, represented by his Senior Technical Assistant, Dr Claris Ujam, said the curriculum had become a dynamic process for sustainable national development.

He said, “Every time, there are changes or developments happening around the world, the school curricula are affected.

“Therefore, the inclusion of concepts and contents of electoral education under Civic Education is in line with the drive under the Ministry’s Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan.

“This is to enable the acquisition of citizenship values and skills through quality education. The electoral education curricular contents constitute a remarkable step to create positive change in the election landscape and political development.”

The Punch

Continue Reading

Featured

Pro, Anti Ekweremadu Protesters Storm UK Trial

Published

on

By

The human trafficking case against a former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice, resumed in a London court on Tuesday.

However, anti- and pro-Ekweremadu protests were staged in front of the court ahead of the proceedings.

AFP reported that before court proceedings, there was a gathering of protesters, some of whom were in support of the lawmaker while others were against him.

The lawmaker was in June 2022 arrested alongside his wife at Heathrow Airport in London on the allegation that they flew a young man from Nigeria to the UK to harvest his organ.

The allegation added that the organ was meant for Ekweremadu’s daughter, Sonia, who is currently hospitalised with a kidney-related illness.

Some Nigerians had in October 2022 protested in Abuja against the continued detention of the lawmaker who has now spent 223 days in the custody of UK authorities.

Protesters, once again, gathered at the court on Tuesday to either support the embattled lawmaker or protest his continued detention in UK custody.

“I mean, this case is unbelievable,” one protester, Citizen Gbola, was quoted by AFP as saying.

“Where else in the world would you have a deputy senate president, who is still a serving senator, he’s still getting his regular wage?”

According to Daily Mail, Sonia couldn’t make it to court on Tuesday but sought permission with a psychological report by her team claiming she was not fit to stand trial.

She had pleaded not guilty to the allegation of trafficking a homeless man into the UK to harvest his organs for herself, when she appeared in court on November 7, 2022.

The young man, who levelled the allegation against the Ekweremadus, told Staines Police Station that he was made to undergo some medical tests, none of which he consented to.

A 50-year-old medical doctor from South London, Obinna Obeta, was also arrested in connection to the allegation.

During proceedings at the Old Bailey court, Ekweremadu who wore a grey tracksuit top only said “Yes, miss” when asked to confirm his name.

Seated beside the lawmaker in the dock and dressed in black was his wife who was granted bail in July 2022 while her husband was said to be a flight risk.

The Punch

Continue Reading

Trending

%d bloggers like this: