The dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) may have violated the party’s constitution, as Mr Oshiomhole and others were not given fair hearing before their sack, lawyers have said.
President Muhammadu Buhari during the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the APC held at the Presidential Villa on June 25 called for the dissolution of the NWC which has been bedeviled by leadership crisis – a faction of the NWC wanted to remove the APC national chairman, Mr Oshiomhole who was already on suspension.
Mr Buhari and others who attended the NEC approved the dissolution of the NWC and the setting up of a 13-member caretaker committee headed by Governor Mala Buni of Yobe State.
Article 21 D (vi) of the APC Constitution stipulates that an officer or officers of the party must be given a right to fair hearing before they are removed by any organ of the party.
But the NEC did not give Mr Oshiomhole and other members of the sacked NWC an opportunity to defend themselves against any allegation before they were removed, lawyers said.
A Lagos-based lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, told PREMIUM TIMES there is a “very high chance” that the dissolution of the APC NWC could be nullified if challenged in court.
“The way the (NEC) decisions were taken without reference to those affected by the decisions is an infraction,” Mr Effiong said.
“The dissolution of the NWC was not taken by NEC as a disciplinary action per se.
“If it were a disciplinary action, it would have meant that they took that decision for a cause. They would have said we are dissolving the NWC on account of corruption, on account of anti-party activities, and so on and so forth, or on account of administrative laxity. They did not proffer any reason, they just said in order to unify the party and resolve the crisis.”
Mr Effiong said the process of convening the NEC and even the swearing in of the members of the caretaker committee did not also conform to the APC constitution.
The caretaker committee was sworn into office by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
“The oath of office administered to the members of the caretaker committee was a nullity because only a properly appointed national officer of the party can administer the oath,” Mr Effiong said.
Mr Effiong said any member of APC can challenge the dissolution of the NWC in court.
“On the issues of locus, the court has said that political parties are bound by their constitutions and that members of a political party have the right to sue a party where the party has breached its own constitution.
“But I think it would be better for those affected to file that action,” he said.
Another lawyer, James Ibor, told PREMIUM TIMES that he was not surprised Mr Buhari presided over the dissolution of the NWC.
He said Mr Buhari’s administration has relegated the rule of law to the background even in the management of the nation’s affairs.
“I think the president’s autocratic tendencies has always been expressed in the way he runs the affairs of this country, especially his refusal to obey court orders,” Mr Ibor said.
The lawyer said the violation of party constitution has become a common act to the two major parties in Nigeria.
“Both APC and PDP have consistently ignored their basic laws in dealing with their own affairs and their members. What interest them is the will of the strongest party member, not necessarily the will of the people or the rule of law,” he said.
The NWC members, after their initial intransigence, have accepted their removal.
Mr Oshiomhole told journalists on Saturday that he has directed his lawyers to withdraw his case at the Supreme Court challenging his suspension by the lower courts in demonstration of his loyalty to Mr Buhari and the APC.
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