20180303

Court urged to void extension of APC NWC members’ tenure

The Federal High Court in Abuja has been urged to void the extension of the tenure of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congioress (APC) by its National Executive Committee (NEC).

The request formed part of the prayers in a suit by Okere Uzochukwu, who described himself as a member of the APC in Imo State.

Uzochukwu, in the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/219/2018, said he was an aspirant to the state chairmanship position of the party in Imo State and that the tenure extension violated provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Act and the Constitution of the APC.

The suit filed by his lawyer, Nnamdi Okere, has APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as respondents.

The Nation reports that Uzochukwu is of the view that the extension of the tenure of officials of the party at various levels was “the primary function and responsibility of the national convention” by virtue of the provisions of Article 13 and 13 (3) (ii) of the Constitution of the APC 2014 (as amended).

He stated, in a supporting affidavit, that “the plaintiff is a registered and card carrying member of the All Progressives Congress who registered at Ulakwo, OAU ward of Owerri North, membership card number 11013379 and has been participating in all programmes and activities of the party.

“The said APC membership card is hereby pleaded and shall be relied upon as exhibit 1. The plaintiff is aspiring and contesting the Imo State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress slated to hold during the party elective convention in July 2018.

“The four-year tenure of the present National Working Committee, State Working Committee, Local Government Area Executive Committee and Ward Executive Committee of the party will expire in June 2018 and new elective conventions ought to be conducted to elect party leadership at the various levels.

“On Tuesday, February 27, 2018, the National Executive Committee of the Party met and purportedly usurped the constitutional powers of the National Convention by unconstitutionally extending the tenure of the present National Working Committee, State Working Committee, Local Government Area Executive Committee and Ward Executive Committee of the party which will expire in June 2018. ”

Uzochukwu wants the court to among others, declare that the purported one year extension of the tenure of the John Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC, the state working committees as well as the local government and ward executive committees of the party commencing from June 2018 to June 2019 “is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effects”.

He said APC’s national convention “never and did not meet to delegate and has not delegated any of its powers to the National Executive Committee, to warrant the unconstitutional tenure extension”.

The plaintiff also wants the court to compel “the incumbent John Odigie- Oyegun-led National Working Committee”, and others to vacate their respective offices with effect from June 1, 2018.

He noted that the beneficiaries of the extension will complete their four-year tenure on June 1, 2018 and urged the court to compel them to vacate their offices by then “pending the election of new officers of the party at all levels through democratically elected conventions.”

Uzochukwu is also seeking an order compelling INEC “to reject, cease to recognise and stop dealing with or having official communications with the incumbent John Odigie- Oyegun-led the National Working Committee” and others effective from effective from June 1, 2018 “for having spent the constitutionally allowed tenure of office”.

He equally seeks an order declaring that he as registered and card-carrying member of the party, “has been denied the right to aspire and contest the Imo State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, a position he is aspiring and canvassing, and has spent enormous resources, to warrant and justify the extant action.”

Uzochukwu raised the following questions for the court’s determination:

*Whether the NEC of the party lacked the “constitutional and statutory powers” to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act” by “undemocratically” extending the tenure of the officials of the party.

*Whether or not the NEC of the party “has the constitutional powers to extend the tenure of the National Working Committee, State Working Committee, Local Government Area Executive Committee and Ward Executive Committee of the All progressives by one year howsoever purported in view of Section 223 (1) (a) and (2) (a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and section 85 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) .”

*Whether or not the purported one year extension of the tenure of John Odigie- Oyegun led the National Working Committee, State Working Committee, Local Government Area Executive Committee and Ward Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress by the National Executive Committee (NEC), commencing from June 2018 to June 2019 is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effects whatsoever; in view of the combined reading of Section 223 (1) (a) and (2) (a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Section 85 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended)”.