The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) may suffer yet another disappointment on the conduct of it’s National Convention.
Naija News reports that as a majority of party faithfuls are still celebrating the ousting of the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) fresh facts emerging shows the convention may not go ahead as planned.
Having repeatedly rescheduled the party congress, Buni led committee had scheduled Saturday, 26th March 2022 for the national convention of the party for the purpose of electing national officials.
The Yobe State Governor is now no longer in the picture as he has been replaced with Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State who is expected to take over affairs of the party at the national secretariat.
With two weeks away from the ruling party’s earlier announced date for the convention, reports obtained by Naija News on Thursday suggested many factors that would stop the exercise.
Though an official statement is yet to be released in respect to the development, revelations to newsmen today, however, noted that, aside from the in-house crisis bedevilling the ruling party, there are other legal and technical impediments standing against the national convention.
Aside from other lingering issues in the party, a subsisting court order restraining APC from conducting its national convention has not been vacated nor appealed as at the time of this report.
Naija News understands that 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 is observed to have read.
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.”
While there is pressure on the APC to hurriedly conduct the congress, the court recently adjourned a hearing of the substantive matter to March 30, after which the party will know its fate on whether to go ahead with its national convention or not.
According to Daily Post, these limited timeframe given by the INEC’s guidelines would spell doom for the APC during the 2023 general elections.
With two subsisting judgements in respect to Rivers and Zamfara states APC candidacies in the 2019 general elections, it would now translate to the party not fielding any legitimate candidate in any of the general elections in 2023.
The fact remains that, the court order restraining INEC and the APC/CECPC is still in force and valid until it is vacated. As of Thursday morning, two weeks to the planned convention, the order had not been vacated.
A section in the newly passed and signed amendment to the Electoral Act is another big trouble for the APC as the party continue to face a puzzle over the conduction of its convention.
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 a national convention. Today is 10th March, the order still subsists, already making a notice of 21 days for convention impossible.
With INEC having published an elections timetable, the APC is now under pressure to meet stipulated timelines, failing which it may not be able to field candidates in the 2023 general elections, Naija News reports.