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Court Fixes May 14 For Judgment In APC Tenure Extension Case

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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