Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege on Friday insisted it is impossible for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or any other party to sue to disqualify the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023.
Omo-Agege’s assertion is coming against the backdrop of a row over whether Yobe Governor Mai Mala Buni is competent in law to nominate candidates for elections as chairman of the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Committee (CCECPC) of the APC.
The Deputy Senate, in his second statement in the issue, urged those canvassing the ward congresses of the APC be postponed in view of the ruling of the Supreme Court on a suit between Eyitayo Jegede v. Rotimi Akeredolu to “eschew mischievous behaviours and deliberate attempts at misinterpreting and misrepresenting the law to satisfy an egocentric agenda.”
The statement titled: “Why there is nothing stopping the APC Ward Congresses scheduled for Saturday, 31st July, 2021” reads:
“A few while ago, I issued a statement expressing my legal opinion on the purport of the decision of the Supreme Court in-respect of Eyitayo Jegede’s appeal against the election of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and the misinterpretation of the said judgment from certain quarters, vis-a-vis the purport of section 183 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), as it affects the A.P.C Congresses scheduled for Saturday.
“I have however, taken time to critically digest and juxtapose the divergent views on the issue and came to realise that the mischief-makers propagating confusion aimed at misleading our party into a state of disarray, did not study the petition filed by Jegede at the lower Court.
“It is worthy to note, that a decision of court is only an authority for what it decides and nothing more. This was clearly stated by the Supreme Court in the case of SKYE BANK & ANOR V. AKINPELU (2010) LPELR-3073 (SC), Pp. 48-49, paras. E-B, as follows:
“It must be borne in mind always, that each case must be considered on its own particular or peculiar facts or circumstances. No one case is identical with the other or another. They may be similar, but never identical”
“Of particular importance is the fact that the Petition in Ondo State did not challenge the legality or competence of the APC Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Committee, but rather challenged the letter dated 27th July, 2020 forwarding the name of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and his running mate to INEC as the candidates of the APC, on the ground that Mai Buni ought not to have signed the letter, him being the Executive Governor of Yobe State. At the risk of prolix, but for the purpose of emphasis, I shall reproduce some of the portions of the petition as may be relevant to the issue at hand.
“Relief 1 of the Petition was couched as follows: ‘That it may be determined and declared that the INEC Form EC9B containing the names of 3rd and 4th Respondents together with the letter dated 27th July, 2020 with which the 2nd respondent purportedly sponsored or communicated its sponsorship of 3rd and 4th respondents to the 1st Respondent are unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.’
“The petition in summary went further to state that it was wrong for Mai Mala Buni and Senator John J. Akpan Udoedehe Ph.D to have signed as National Chairman and National Secretary of the party and that it was only the National Executive Committee of the APC that can validly sponsor a candidate for election to the office of the Governor of Ondo State.
“From the clear content of the substratum of Jegede’s petition at the lower court, I find it very difficult to understand how it relates to the competence of the Caretaker/ Extra-Ordinary Convention Committee constituted by NEC of the APC.
“In other to deliberately misled gullible minds, one of the proponents for the cancellation of the Ward Congresses alluded to the fact, that if the APC proceeds with the Congresses, the opposition would simply wait till the APC Presidential Primaries in 2023 to disqualify our candidate and destroy the party. This reasoning with all due respect, is not only tenuous in law, but strange.
“It is elementary knowledge that complaints touching on the nomination or election of leaders of a political party or issues as to membership of a political party are matters exclusively within the internal affairs of a political party and are not justiciable.
“The Supreme Court in the case of UFOMBA V. INEC & ORS (2017) LPELR-42079 (SC), Pp. 46-48, paras. D-B, clearly held thus:
‘…The issue now is, are claims against the nomination of members or leaders of the political party justifiable? My simple answer to that question is a capital NO. The law is trite that Courts jurisdiction is ousted in matters dealing with internal affairs or resolution of a political party regarding nomination or leadership of that political party as in this instant case…’
“How the process of electing the leaders or Executives of the APC on Saturday, 31st day of July, 2021, can be relied upon by the PDP or any other opposition party, to disqualify our candidates in 2023, is what beats my imagination.
“Assuming but not conceding, that the grievances (if any) arising from the Congresses, would amount or qualify as a pre-election dispute and assuming the PDP or any other opposition party has the right to challenge the outcome of the Congresses, such a right of action will not last in perpetuity.
“By 2023, the 14 days statutory period provided for in Section 285 (9) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No. 21,) Act 2017 would have elapsed.
“In 2023, APC would have gotten substantive National Officers, State, Local Government and Wards Executives and the NEC of the APC will constitute and inaugurate the Committees to conduct the Presidential and Governorship primaries, how PDP will sue to disqualify our Presidential and all the candidates of the APC in 2023 remains mystical.
“As ministers in the temple of justice and noble men, we should all eschew mischievous behaviours and deliberate attempts at misinterpreting and misrepresenting the law to satisfy an egocentric agenda. Let us all be properly guided.”