Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), has warned the All Progressives Congress (APC) of imminent legal tussles if Yobe State Governor,Mai Mala Buni, remains the party’s interim chairman.
The minister, also a member of the party, in a memo on Wednesday, said the “unity” in the party may be short-lived if the party went ahead with its planned congresses under the leadership of Buni.
The congresses are scheduled to begin nationwide on Saturday, July 31.
Hinging his reasons on the split decision of the Supreme Court to uphold Rotimi Akeredolu as Governor of Ondo State earlier on Wednesday, the minister said the APC escaped potential defeat due to ‘little technicality’ which may not be applicable in subsequent court cases.
Four out of the seven-member panel of the apex court dismissed the appeal of Eyitayo Jegede, governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State in the October 20, 2020 election.
Reacting to the judgement, Keyamo said the ruling party would have lost the case if Jegede had joined Buni in the suit.
“The little technical point that saved Gov. Akeredolu was that Jegede failed to join Gov. Mai Mala Buni in the suit. Jegede was challenging the competence of Gov. Mai Mala Buni as a sitting Governor to run the affairs of the APC as Chairman of the Caretaker Committee.
“He contends that this is against Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution which states that a sitting Governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever. In other words, had Buni been joined in the suit, the story may have been different today as we would have lost Ondo State to the PDP,” the minister noted.
Keyamo said the technicality found therein in the judgement may string chains of suits from APC members to question the legitimacy of the 13 month old interim leadership of Buni to organise congresses and national convention.
He highlighted that the continued leadership of the Yobe State Governor is a breach of Article 17 of the APC Constitution, adding that the party should stop its proposed congresses under Buni’s leadership or risk imminent division.
“The planned Congresses across the country slated for this weekend must immediately be suspended because it will be an exercise in futility as analysed above. The competence of Gov. Mai Mala Buni to organise the congresses has been called to question by the Supreme Court,” he said.
He called for an urgent NEC meeting to appoint new interim leadership, without anyone holding any executive position in any government establishment.
“Alternatively, the Board of Trustees of the Party, which includes Mr. President, can be activated to organise a National Convention in line with Article 13 of the APC Constitution where it is given such powers. Those powers can be delegated at the meeting to a Committee in line with the APC Constitution which will run the Party and plan the Convention. The new Exco can then plan for Congresses,” he added.
Apart from Buni, Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola and his Niger State Counterpart, Sani Bello, representing the South West and North Central zones respectively, are the other incumbent governors named among 13-member caretaker committee.
The committee was appointed in June 2020 following the controversial removal of Adams Oshiomhole-led executives.