APC at Crossroads as PDP Tells Court to Declare Buni, Deputy’s Seats Vacant

APC at Crossroads as PDP Tells Court to Declare Buni, Deputy’s Seats Vacant



APC at Crossroads as PDP Tells Court to Declare Buni, Deputy’s Seats Vacant

editorAugust 13, 2021 7:00 Am

*Wants party’s governorship candidate, running mate in last election sworn in

Alex Enumah in Abuja

The filing of a suit, yesterday, in Abuja, by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking the sack of Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni and his deputy, Idi Gubana, could mean more trouble for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as momentum gathers ahead of the 2023 general election.

The party’s woes took a worrisome dimension in July, when a minority judgement of the Supreme Court held that Buni violated the 1999 Constitution by performing the duties of a sitting Governor and Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee – both executive positions.

The judgement has since July 28 continued to tear the party further apart alongside pro-Buni and anti-Buni tendencies, with the Minister of State for Niger Delta and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Festus Keyamo, warning about future disasters if Buni was not immediately removed as chairman of APC.

Keyamo and others, like Senators Babafemi Ojudu and Ita Enang, had raised concerns about future elections, particularly, in a situation, where the convention to elect new leaders of the APC was conducted under the Yobe State governor.

Although the pro-Buni group within the party has continued to maintain that the Supreme Court judgement did not fault the chairman’s position as governor and, hence, passed a vote of confidence on his committee to proceed with its planned congresses and national convention.

While the crisis rocking the party had been mainly internal, a new dimension was introduced yesterday with the filing of a suit by the PDP leadership, this time seeking the removal of Buni as governor of Yobe State, over alleged breach of constitutional provisions barring a sitting governor from holding two executive offices at the same time.

Apart from Buni, PDP, citing section 187(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, also sought the removal of Gubana from office as deputy governor.

PDP, in the suit dated and filed August 12, specifically alleged that Buni violated Section 183 of the constitution, when as a governor he accepted to serve as Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of APC had last year appointed Buni and others to manage the affairs of the party for a period of six months, which has been extended twice. Buni’s appointment was sequel to the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) of APC. This was after Oshiomhole was suspended from his ward in the build-up to the Edo 2020 governorship poll.

Both the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal had held that Oshiomhole, having been suspended by his ward, could not continue to preside over the activities of APC.

Although Oshiomhole did not challenge the dissolution of the NWC then, some aggrieved party members had approached the court seeking to stop the Buni-led caretaker committee.

While the party would be battling on the one hand to legitimise the Buni-led committee, the Yobe State governor, on the other hand, would be battling to save his office as governor.

Outside Buni and Gubana, other defendants in the suit filed by Umar Damagum and Baba Aji included the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In the suit filed on their behalf by their lawyer, Chief Emeka Etiaba, SAN, the plaintiffs insisted that Buni ceased to be a governor from the moment he accepted to act as APC caretaker committee chairman.

Among the issues raised for determination by the court were, “Whether the 1st Defendant did not breach the clear provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Regublic of Nigeria 1999 as amended) when as the governor of Yobe State he accepted the 3rd Defendant’s appointment as its Caretaker Committee Chairman and proceeded to occupy the office?

“Whether the 1st Defendant, who