John Oyegun, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), already lost the bid to have his tenure extended by one year, back in March.
However, had he not lost in March, he would have lost out nevertheless — because on Monday, a Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed two suits challenging the attempted tenure extension, saying such action would have violated both the constitution of the party and the country.
At a meeting in February, the National Executive Council (NEC) of the APC had extended the tenure of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), led by Oyegun, by 12 months, beginning from June 30.
Yahaya Bello, Governor of Kogi state, who addressed the media after the meeting, said the decision was taken “considering the time left for the party to conduct all the congresses and conventions.
He had added that “considering that our leader Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been charged with the responsibility of reconciling all aggrieved members of our party, we cannot afford to approach the general election with more disputes and crises adding that party have decided on line with article 13 which empowers the NEC to carry out the functions of its convention and the NEC has decided to extend the tenure of current NWC other executive committees at various levels for another 12months starting from June 30th”.
However, a month after — following opposition from Bola Tinubu and some party heavyweights — President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently overruled the NEC, citing the need to avoid a legal battle that could jeopardise the party’s cohesion before the 2019 general election.
“As we all know, the motion was moved at the last NEC meeting February 27, 2018, to the effect that when the tenure of the current executive expires in June this year, they should be allowed to continue for one year,” he said.
“This motion was moved by majority of members present at the last NEC meeting. Even though some of our party members have since spoken very vehemently against it, others have even taken the matter to court.
“On my own part, I have taken some time to review and seek advice on the resolution and what I have found is that it contravenes our party constitution and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“While the APC constitution Article 17, in bracket 1 and 13 on two bracket b, limits the tenure of elected officers to four years, renewable once by another election. The 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended, in section 223, also prescribes periodic election for party executives at regular intervals which must not exceed four years.
“Furthermore, Article 31 of our party constitution provides that any principal officer wishing to re-contest or contest for another election must resign from his current post at least one month before the election. In this circumstance, what is expected of us is to conduct fresh election once the tenure of the current executives approaches its end.”
Ruling on Monday on the two suits filed against the extension of Oyegun’s tenure, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba held that they had become hypothetical, academic and spent, since the party had already reversed the decision and had begun conducting primaries.
He said he had taken “judicial notice” of the fact that the party had started conducting its congresses for the purpose of electing its officials at the ward and local government levels, and had also scheduled the date of its national convention.
He added that the attempted extension would have been a violation of both the Nigerian and APC’s constitutions.