Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
.Says, Bello’s letter legally defective
The National Executive Committee NEC meeting of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC slated for next Thursday may no longer hold after all, following the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC to not monitor the exercise due to legal flaws in the invitation letter sent to it by the party.
Vanguard had on March 9 exclusively reported that the beleaguered Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC of the APC was now in a fix over its decision to convene an emergency meeting of NEC.
This is because only the national chairman and the national secretary of the party and or a two-third majority of NEC members can convene such a meeting.
Party sources who are in the know of ongoing highwire intrigues at the top echelon of the party said the CECPC now being led by Gov. Abubakar Sani Bello as acting national chairman was tinkering with two options to convene the NEC.
The two options are: relying on Article 25(B)1, getting two thirds of NEC members to append their signatures to a document calling for a NEC meeting. The challenge with this is that the current composition of NEC is vague, while its members are scattered around the country and would take at least two days to mobilize them to Abuja to sign any document calling for a meeting.
The second option is that the CECPC members, with the exception of its substantive National Chairman, Gov. Mai Mala Buni and National Secretary, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe are said to have resolved to sign up for a NEC meeting. Their resolution will thereafter be forwarded to the presidency for necessary input and ratification. The challenge with this is that although, as presently constituted, members of the CECPC are automatic members of NEC, they do not however constitute a two-third of NEC members whose signatures are needed to convene the all-important meeting.
The Bello-led CECPC indeed went for the second option and wrote INEC on March 8, inviting it to monitor the NEC.
But the electoral umpire has now raised issues with the invitation, saying according to the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) and the commission’s regulations and guidelines for political party operations, the invitation letter was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC.
According to sources at the commission, INEC would require a 21-day notice to monitor the exercise and asked the CECPC to note the issues raised for compliance.
One of the sources said INEC has now written the ruling party on the matter.
INEC’s letter dated March 9, 2022 and which was addressed to the CECPC National Chairman, was signed by its Secretary, Rose Oriaran-Anthony.
It reads; “Please refer to your letter Ref. APC/NHDQ/INEC/019/022/32, dated 8th March 2022.
“The Commission draws your attention to the fact that the notice for the meeting was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC contrary to the provision of the Article 1.1.3 of the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018).
“Furthermore, the APC is reminded of the provision in Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 which requires ‘at least 21 days’ notice of any convention, congress, conference, or meeting convened for the purpose of ‘merger’ and electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any elective offices.’
“While hoping these issues are noted for compliance, please accept the assurance of the Commission’s warm regards”.
Vanguard had earlier reported that the easiest way out of the legal quagmire was to get Gov. Buni to come back, ask him to convene a NEC meeting and then remove him and adopt Gov. Bello.
“But the fear is whether Buni will actually call for a NEC meeting if he is allowed to take charge of the CECPC now.
“Unfortunately, the party is in a fix because you cannot invoke any doctrine of necessity on this issue and time is running. Article 25 (B) 1 of our constitution states that, ‘the National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and or at any time decided by the National Chairman or at the request made in writing by at least two-third of the members of the National Executive Committee provided that not less than fourteen (14) days notice is given for the meeting to be summoned”, a source had told our correspondent.