Legal opinions have been sharply divided. This is the crux of the matter. The divided opinions came on the heels of the ruling that upheld Rotimi Akeredolu as Ondo State Governor. It was a 4-3 judgment.
Many did argue wrongly that the apex court questioned the competence of the Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), headed by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, to conduct congresses and nominate candidates.
They did not realise that the apex court’s verdict had no bearing whatsoever on the CECPC’s status and its membership. Rather, it affirmed the caretaker committee as lawful.
Therefore, Buni’s panel is firmly on the ground. It is home and dry to carry out the assignment given to it by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
It should be noted that the Court of Appeal had found that the functions performed by Buni were those of the national chairman of the APC, but that they were performed on a temporary basis.
The Court of Appeal had held that questions regarding the validity or otherwise of the actions of Buni in that acting and temporary office cannot be questioned in the absence of Buni who was a necessary party, without whose presence the issues could not be competently and validly litigated.
The Court of Appeal further held that such issues could only be litigated in a proper civil suit and not in an election petition where the jurisdiction of the tribunal is narrow and limited to questions as to whether a person has been validly elected to a public office.
Buni’s position as acting chairman of the CECPC is not contrary to the provision of Section 183 of the Constitution of Nigeria. It is on a temporary basis. It is not akin to executive office or paid employment as envisaged by Section 183 of the Nigerian Constitution.
The NEC of the APC is empowered to create, elect and appoint committees (including the instant CECPC) or any other committee it might deem necessary to act in any capacity.
The Ondo ruling by the Supreme Court has kept stakeholders in the polity divided as to which lane the party should follow.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, was at the forefront, pushing to oust Buni. He warned APC of imminent legal tussles, if Buni remains its interim leader.
The governor is no doubt relieved by the instant show of solidarity by two of the party’s top legal minds: Mamman Tahir and Adeniyi Akintola. Both are Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs). They are not alone.
Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Senate President, shared their thoughts. He argued that there was nothing to fear. He is himself a lawyer: “Mischief-makers, for obviously nefarious intentions, resort to misinterpret the said judgment.”
He likened Buni’s position to that of Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti State governor, who is the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF). His posers:
“Can it be said that a state governor who is chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, is occupying an ‘executive office’? Can it also be argued that the president cannot be appointed as chairman, African Union?”
His final submission: “There is no law under our legal jurisprudence that bars or prohibits a governor who is a member of a political party and won elections under the political party from carrying out specific assignments on behalf of his party.”
The pervading feeling among a section of the party’s hierarchy is that those pushing for Buni’s removal are doing so purely to satisfy their political interests ahead of the 2023 polls.
All the same, like the proverbial cat with nine lives, the Buni-led CECPC has survived beyond measure. This is sequel to the goodwill it enjoys from bigwigs in the party.
Again, Masari spits fire
This governor is unstoppable. He demonstrated it convincingly on Monday. Bello Masari is making waves in Katsina State.
He is moving mountains in President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state. He is doing what others dare not do. And he is forging ahead with uncommon determination.
When he called for arms against bandits, hell was let loose. He told residents to acquire arms fast to protect themselves. For that, he was called names of all sorts.
Forget his near recant. He almost derailed. He nearly swallowed his stinking vomit. Somehow, he was able to pull over. All the same, he remains largely unperturbed.
Now the latest: On Monday, he rolled out an executive order, Security Challenges (Containment) Order from the mill. It became effective the following day.
The popular Jibia-Gurbin Road was ordered closed: “Travellers plying that road are advised to go through Funtua.”
Masari did not stop there. He also ordered: “Immediate closure of Kankara-Sheme Road to all commercial vehicles who are advised to go through Funtua.
“Only private non-commercial vehicles are to ply the road and lorries, trucks carrying firewood from the bush are totally banned.
“Suspension of sale of all animals at the markets of the following local government areas: Jibia, Batsari, Safana, Danmusa, Kankara, Malumfashi, Charanchi, Mal’adua, Kafur, Faskari, Sabuwa, Baure, Dutsinma and Kaita.
“Ban on transportation of cattle trucks from Katsina State to any other state in Nigeria.
“Total ban on carrying three persons on motorcycles and more than three passengers on a tricycle.
“Total ban on the sale of second-hand motorcycles at the Charanchi Market.
“Re-enforcement of the ban on the operation of commercial tricycles and motorcycles from 10:00pm to 6:00am in the state capital and 6:00pm to 6:00am in the frontline local government areas.
“Re-enforcement of the total ban on the sale of petrol in jerry cans at filling stations.
“Only two designated filling stations are allowed to sell fuel of not more than N5,000 to motorists in Jibia, Batsari, Safana, Danmusa, Kankara, Faskari, Sabuwa, Dandume, Musawa, Matazu, Dutsinma, Kurfi, Danja and Kafur local government areas.
“Identified essential workers (health personnel, security personnel and journalists) could use tricycles and motorcycles beyond the banned periods.”
Masari has wisely opted to stand up and be counted. And this is being credited to his name.