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Court order, Buni’s removal dim hope on APC national convention

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Court order, Buni's removal dim hope on APC national convention
Facts emerged has that the much expected national convention of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC to elect national officers scheduled for Saturday, March 26 may not hold due to some factors.
The factors which may halt the convention, it was gathered, include subsisting court ruling against the exercise, section 82(1) of the newly signed Electoral Act 2022, internal crisis caused by the alleged removal of Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni as the chairman of Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC of the party.
Already, Governor Buni has been edged out, paving way for the Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, to takeover affairs of the party at the national secretariat. He has since, inaugurated chairmen of various state chapters of the party.
Aside many court suits emanating from the conduct of state congresses, it was gathered Thursday morning, that a subsisting court order, restraining APC from conducting its national convention, has not been vacated nor appealed against.
A Bwari Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, in suit number FCT/HC/CV/2958/2021 had restrained the ruling party from holding its convention, until a substantive suit has been heard and determined.
The suit, filed by Hon. Salisu Umoru at the court, had the APC, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and Governor Buni, as respondents.
“That the 1st Defendant/Respondent can only conduct its national convention after the hearing and determination of the substantive suit pending before this honourable court,” the court Order seen by this newspaper reads.
Justice Bello Kawu, also ruled that, “in the interest of justice, accelerated hearing of the substantive suit is hereby ordered.
“That this matter is hereby adjourned to the 10th day of January 2022 for hearing of the substantive suit at High Court No. 15, Kubwa, FCT-Abuja.”
It was also gathered, that the court had recently adjourned hearing of the substantive matter to March 30, when the party shall know fate on whether to go ahead with its national convention or not.
This development has made some governors and leaders of the party unsettled.
The implications of this unappealed judgement and with the limited timeframe given by the INEC’s guidelines, would spell doom for the party during the 2023 general elections.
With two subsisting judgements in respect to Rivers and Zamfara States APC candidacies in 2019 general elections, it would now translate to the party not fielding any legitimate candidate in any of general elections in 2023.
Worried by this development and the impending lacuna, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, one of the arrowheads in the engine room of the APC, confirmed that the court order was a waiting calamity against the party in 2023.
Speaking on Wednesday in an interview with Channels Television, El-Rufai said the court order was a “hidden nuclear weapon” designed to destroy the party’s chances in the 2023 general election.
“This court order was obtained in November. A member of the party went to court to say that there must be no convention until his case against the party is disposed of, which can take months or years,” El-Rufai said.
The fact remains that, the court Order restraining INEC and the APC/CECPC is still in force and valid until it is vacated. As at Thursday morning, two weeks to the planned convention, the order has not been vacated.
Another hidden factor that may impede the conduct of the election was a section in the newly passed and signed amendment to Electoral Act.
Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended), reads: “Every registered political party shall give the Commission at least 21 days’ notice of any Convention, Congress, Conference or Meeting convened for the purpose of ‘merger’ and electing members of the executive committee, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified under this Act.”
The simple interpretation of this clause means that, after the order is vacated, APC/CECPC needs to give INEC 21 days notice that it wants to conduct national convention.
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