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SAN: Supreme court verdict on Ondo affirmed Buni’s caretaker committee as lawful

SAN: Supreme court verdict on Ondo affirmed Buni’s caretaker committee as lawful
August 05
09:10 2021

Tahir Mamman, senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says the verdict of the supreme court on Ondo governorship election affirmed the caretaker committee led by Mai Mala Buni, Yobe governor, as lawful.

On the heels of the 4:3 judgment which upheld Rotimi Akeredolu as Ondo governor, Festus Keyamo, minister of state for labour and employment, said the apex court questioned the competence of Buni to conduct congresses and nominate candidates.

Keyamo said for the party to avoid lawsuits, the APC should immediately suspend the congresses and replace Buni.

But the party dismissed his position.

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In an explanatory note and excerpts of judgment made available to journalists on Thursday, Mamman, a member of the caretaker committee, said Buni’s panel is “firm on the ground” to carry out the assignment given to it by the party’s national executive committee (NEC).

“On the validity of Mai Mala Buni acting as a sitting Governor in the position of Chairman, Caretaker, Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the APC vis a vis the provisions of Section 183 of the CFRN and Articles, 13.3(vi) and 17(iv) of the Constitution of the APC 2014(as amended) and the effect on the APC or the qualification of its candidates; the Supreme Court relied copiously on the Judgment of the Court of Appeal and agreed with same in resolving this issue (see pages 31 to 36 of the lead judgment),” he said.

“Indeed the Court of Appeal had found that the functions performed by Mai Mala Buni were those of the National Chairman of the APC but that they were performed on a temporary basis.

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“The Court however held that questions regarding the validity or otherwise of the actions of Mai Mala Buni in that acting and temporary office cannot be questioned in the absence of Mai Mala who is a necessary party, without whose presence the issues could not be competently and validly litigated.

“The Court of Appeal went further to hold that such issues can 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.

“In conclusion and by way of summary, it is respectfully submitted as follows; that Mai Mala Buni’s position as Acting Chairman of the Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee is not contrary to the provision of Section 183 of the CFRN as same is on a temporary basis which is not akin to Executive office or paid employment as envisaged by Section 183 of the CFRN.

“That the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party is empowered to create, elect and appoint Committees (including the instant CECPC) or any other committee it may deem necessary to act in any capacity.

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“On the strength of all the above position of the Supreme Court in the instant case and other earlier decided cases cited in support, it is our opinion that the Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) headed by Governor Mai Mala Buni is on firm ground to proceed with its mandate as given by the National Executive Committee of the APC.”

Mamman added that the dissenting verdict “is not the judgment of the court and therefore is not binding”.

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