Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) seems to have worsened as the party’s Deputy National Chairman, North, Lawan Shuaibu, has declined appearance before the Otumba Niyi Adebanyo-led five-man disciplinary committee constituted by the National Working Committee (NWC).
Replying the invitation letter the committee sent to him, Shuaibu stated in clear terms that the NWC lacks the statutory powers to constitute such disciplinary committee, stressing that he could not join them in swimming in illegality.
Titled ‘Re: Invitation to appear before a five-man disciplinary committee,” Shuaibu wrote: “I hereby acknowledge receipt of the letter of invitation to appear before your committee, but regrettably wish to make the following observations:
“I don’t know from where the National Working Committee (NWC) derived the power of discipline. The APC Constitution in Article 21 states that such power shall only be exercised by the party through the respective Executive Committee of the party at all levels.
“I am not a lawyer, but I have been in the political party system for about a decade now to be able to know that every decision of the party shall be in line with what its constitution stipulates. When I served as a National Secretary, my own National Chairman would insist that I worked with the National Legal Adviser for advice on every issue before any decision was arrived at.
“Given the NWC has the power, how can the chairman preside over a meeting in which discussions that border on allegations against him are discussed?
“Let me repeat as in my letter to the Chairman, you CAN’T BE A JUDGE IN YOUR OWN CASE! And to even say he was seated there to accept a vote of confidence as well as preside over setting up a committee to punish the member that accused him!
“Those eminent leaders of the All Progressives Congress had fairness on their minds on matters of discipline and disciplinary procedures when they drafted the constitution. They entrusted the matter of discipline in the party to the larger Executive Committees and not a group of few members of the party some of who might probably be culpable in some instances.
“Otunba, my honest advice to you is, since you are the closest NWC member to the Chairman, in order not to drive the party into the muds, always insist on following the due process of law in whatever he wants to commit the party to. All he needs to do is to work closely with the Legal Adviser and not to mock his advice because if we find any failure in that instance you cannot blame the lawyer.
“Niyi, you are also a lawyer why can’t you tell the chairman whether something is right or wrong? Since President Buhari and I met when he joined partisan politics in 2002, l have always known him to insist on due process of Iaw. In those days in the ANPP when he was trying to learn how the game was played, his consistent comment at NEC meetings was “let us do what the constitution says, in that way some of us that are learning the way it is done will understand quicker and better.
“Now, let us look at the process, the fact that the NWC members, before resolving to set up your committee had earlier passed a vote of confidence on the chairman puts some doubt to its purpose. You have already put the cart before the horse. I never expected to receive your letter to investigate me on what I said of the chairman as there couldn’t have been any need again.
“I was Initially gladdened by an earlier statement by the National Publicity Secretary in his media reaction to my letter, that “the issues raised in the letter are between two leaders.” I wonder at what stage it became a NWC issue again.
“I can equally imagine how the NWC, an important organ of the party could convene what was described as a regular meeting for which less than 24 hours notice was given, specifically to discuss my opinion on the chairman and even issue a communique in that regard. You are actually making me appear to be more important than I have always felt.
“I am not sure of the source of your meeting with respect to the other shocking allegations contained in your resolutions, but what I read from it in virtually all the newspapers this morning painted me darker than I am.
“That I was inciting National Assembly members against the nominees of Mr President is to say the least, that your meeting ran out of creative ideas on how to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. They are weighty allegations, but I don’t get intimidated and for those who know me, I have never in my Iife played any double standard and they can tell you that I don’t tell lies for any favours, because I depend on God for all my needs and every other favour.
“That is why I stood my grounds in advising the chairman to allow the party a breathing gap to heave a sigh and fly up once again without losing more feathers. However, with the aforementioned points in mind, let me state that with due respect to the NWC, an important organ of my party, I will not appear before your committee as it is illegal and I am too informed to get involved in illegalities.
“If you want to punish me for saying what I still believe is true, then you have to take this matter to where you are avoiding, the National Executive Committee. My advice is please let us save this party as a stitch in time saves nine. I assure you there Is nothing personal about this except that my concern that the party is drifting. Niyi, a stitch In time saves nine!” the letter read.