APC crisis: INEC rejects Bello’s letter, recognises Buni, gives reasons
Nigeria’s electoral body, INEC, has rejected a letter of invitation sent by the interim head of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abubakar Bello, to attend its emergency meeting.
The APC letter dated March 9, was signed by the controversially appointed chairman of the party, Governor Bello of Niger State, requesting the commission’s presence at the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.
The INEC, in its response, rejected the invitation on the ground that the letter of invitation was not signed by the dismissed chairman, Mala Buni and the party’s National Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, as required by the law.
“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 office,” the commission noted in the letter.
INEC’s stance appear to aggravate the crises in the ruling party and puts the much anticipated March 26 National Convention in doubt
Unless Mr Buni returns to take over the mantle of leadership before the fixed date, the APC may have to extend its convention date again.
Buni duly handed over power to Bello, letter suggests
Also, contrary to the belief that Mr Buni was kicked out of office, a letter which has been making rounds on social media since Thursday, indicated that the Yobe State Governor duly transmitted power to Mr Bello before leaving the country.
“This is to please inform you that I will be embarking on a medical trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from today, 28th February, 2022. I will resume office upon my discharge from the hospital.
“In my absence, I hereby transmit the functions of my office as the National Chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) to you. This is to enable the Committee to conclude all arrangements leading to the National Convention slated for March 26th, 2022 and other duties that may be required of the office.
“I invite all members to cooperate with Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, by extending to him all the support that I have enjoyed from you,” Mr Buni said in a letter.
Earlier, the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, said that the Yobe State governor was removed on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Why March 26 may not hold
Aside from the underlying leadership issues, there are strong indications that numerous existing court orders against the party which have not been vacated nor appealed pose a greater threat to the convention.
Many of the legal suits were filed against the Mr Buni-led committee by aggrieved members after the party’s controversial state congresses.
The party held parallel state congresses in many of its state branches where at least two separate executives emerged.
With the failed attempt to successfully reconcile the divided groups, the Mr Buni-led caretaker committee inaugurated the state factions it recognised.
One of the many suits seeking to restrain the APC from holding the National Convention and challenging Mr Buni’s leadership is before a Bwari division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
The suit, with number FCT/HC/CV/2958/2021, was filed by Salisu Umoru, with the APC, INEC and Mr Buni, as respondents. The suit has not been heard.
The court had recently adjourned a hearing of the substantive matter to March 30, four days after the fixed date for the National Convention