Court fixes May 14 for judgment in APC tenure extension case

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AN Abuja Federal High Court yesterday fixed May 14 for judgment in a suit seeking to void the one-year tenure extension granted to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The plaintiff, Mr. Ademorin Kuye, led some other party members to file the suit after the party extended the tenure of NWC by one year.

The defendants are: the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC, its National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and National Organising Secretary Senator Osita Izunaso.

The plaintiffs on March 15 obtained an ex parte order directing the defendants to show cause why the NWC members should not be barred from parading themselves as the party’s national officials.

When the matter was called yesterday, Kuye’s counsel, Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), said  they were in court to seek an interpretation to Section 223 of the 1999 Constitution.

The SAN said: “We have argued that Section 223 is mandatory and the philosophy behind it is to ensure that political parties conduct their affairs in a democratic manner.

“Therefore, by whatever decision can a political party extend tenure, especially almost half way to the end of the tenure where there is no emergency.”

He argued that if there was an emergency such as the country was at war, then it could be considered.

Raji, however, maintained that there was no such emergency now to warrant such an action.

He urged the court to avoid an interpretation that would render Section 223 of the Constitution useless, adding that the four years stipulated for a tenure should be adhered to.

The SAN disagreed with the defendants that the matter was the party’s domestic affair and that internal remedies had not been exhausted.

According to him, the highest organ of the party, the NWC wants to overrule the president, that cannot be a domestic affair.

INEC’s counsel Mr. Idris Yakubu said the commission had no position in the matter, adding that it would be bound by the court’s decision.

APC’s counsel Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN) urged the court to dismiss the suit because it was premature, claiming that it was filed based on fear, speculations and political calculations.

According to Daudu, what they were asking the court to do has not arisen yet as there is no instrument before the court showing that there is an elongation.

Daudu argued that besides the fact that the plaintiff lacked “locus standi”, the case was a demonstration of why the court should not interfere since the party was trying to self-resolve the issue.

Mr. Akin Olujimi (SAN), counsel to Oyegun, aligned himself with the submissions of Daudu and prayed the court to dismiss the suit.

Olujimi argued that the resolution which the plaintiff (Kuye) alleged was reached by the NEC of APC on February 27, was the foundation of the suit but that the said resolution was not placed before the court.

According to Olujimi, their case is founded on tenure elongation but there is nothing like that before the court.

Mr. James Onoja (SAN), counsel to Izunaso, contended that his client was not supposed to be a party to the suit since the case around his client was that of a waiver and not tenure elongation.

Onoja, who filed a preliminary objection challenging the competence of the suit, also urged the court to dismiss it.

The trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, fixed May 14 to deliver judgment.

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Samson Gbenga Salau [Editorial Board Adviser] Gbenga Samuel Salau is a professional journalist with over 17 years experience in journalism, he is a graduate of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan. On completion of his youth service, he joined The Guardian as a freelance journalist and was later absorbed as a staff. While in the University, he was a campus journalist reporting for the Independence Hall and Faculty of Arts Press Clubs. As a campus journalist, he won the following awards; Independence Hall Press Best News writer; University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best News Reporter/Writer; First Runner-up, Reuben Abati Award for Investigative Journalism; Association of Faculty of Arts Students’ Press Best Reporter; University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best Political Writer; Winner, Reuben Abati Award for Investigative Journalism, and University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best Interviewer. He served the Association of Communication and Language Arts Students, as the Public Relation Officer, the same year he was appointed the News Editor of the Association of Faculty of Arts Students Press. The following session, he was made the General Editor, and a member of the 13-man University of Ibadan Students’ Union Transition Committee. As a reporter in The Guardian, in 2014, he won the Promasidor Quill Award Best Report on Nutrition and DAME Business Reporting category. In the 2015 edition of the Promasidor Quill Award, he won the best Report on Nutrition and Brand Advocate Categories, while in 2016, he won the NMMA Print Journalist of the Year, first runner-up Golden Pen Reporter of the Year and SERAs CSR Awards. Gbenga Salau loves traveling, reading, and listening to songs with good lyrics no matter the genre.

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