A member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has urged the Federal High Court in Abuja to declare the extension of the tenure of the National Working Committee (NWC) by its National Executive Committee (NEC), illegal and unconstitutional.
Okere Uzochukwu, a member of the APC in Imo State, made the request in a suit, filed by his lawyer, Nnamdi Okere, which also has APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as respondents.
He also said the 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 NEC of the party, at its meeting on Tuesday in Abuja extended the tenure of the Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC by one year, starting from June.
Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi, who announced the development, said the decision was taken in line with the party´s Constitution.
He explained that it was to ensure that peace prevailed within the party’s hierarchy ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“Considering the time left for the party to conduct all the congresses, we cannot afford to approach general elections with more dispute and crises.
“So, relying on Article 13 of our Constitution, which empowers the NEC to carry out the function of the convention, the NEC has decided to extend the tenure of the current NWC,’’ Mr. Bello said.
He explained that the tenure extension included the party´s other executive committees at various levels, but stated that the action would not stop its non-elective National Convention slated for July.
In the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/219/2018, Mr. Uzochukwu 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.
He further explained that the 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).
Mr. Uzochukwu, therefore, urged the court to among others, declare that the purported one-year extension as “illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect.
He 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.
Noting that the beneficiaries of the extension will complete their four-year tenure on June 1, 2018, he further 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.”
“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.”
In a supporting affidavit, he said “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 plaintiff also seeks 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 also wants an order declaring that he, as a 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.”