- A leaked document has shown that the Independent National Electoral Commission has rejected the replacement of Governor Mai Mala-Buni with his Niger state counterpart
- In the document, INEC said it would not honour the emergence of Governor Sani Bello of Niger state as the chairman of the APC's caretaker committee
- According to the commission, it has not been duly informed about a change of leadership in accordance with the provision of the Electoral Act, 2022, as amended.
The crisis bedevilling the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) may have started yielding negative effects on the party, as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has rejected the nomination of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State as the chairman of the party's Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).
Sources within the APC have said that Governor Bello, upon resumption as chairman of CECPC transmitted a letter dated March 8, informing INEC of the change in leadership at the APC's national secretariat.
Legit.ng gathered that introducing himself as the acting chairman and Professor Tahir Mamman as the acting Secretary of the party, Bello and Mamman signed the letter.
One of the sources admitted that the letter served as notice to the commission, of APC's CECPC decision to hold a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting for next week Thursday, March 17.
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However, in a swift reaction, the commission has replied to the letter noting that it is not aware of a change of leadership within the APC.
The letter from INEC which was seen by Legit.ng is dated March 9 and signed by the secretary to the electoral commission, Rose Omoa Oriaran-Anthony.
According to INEC, it cannot honour the letter informing the commission of a change in leadership within the party on the basis of a letter not signed by Governor Buni or Senator John James Akpanudoedehe the known chairman and secretary of the APC.
The INEC letter read in part:
"The Commission draws your attention to the fact that the notice for the meeting was not signed by the National Chairman (Buni) and National Secretary (Akpanudoedehe) of the CECPC, contrary to the provision of the Article 1.1.3 of the Commission's Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018).
"Furthermore, the APC is reminded of the provision in Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, which requires 'at least 21 days' notice of any convention, congress, conference or meeting convened for the purpose of "merger" and electing members of executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any elective offices."
In addition, a source within the commission said Governor Bello's letter to the commission is strange as INEC was never invited to monitor the change of guard within the party.
The source referring to Section 82(2-3) of the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended), said it is compulsory that INEC is informed of parties' meetings, conventions where elections to nominate executives are carried out.
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According to the source, the invitation from the party to INEC avails the commission of the statutory obligation to monitor the process of selection of the political party's leaders.
The source said:
"The same section also provided that, in a case of replacement of any vacant position in the party, INEC must be fully involved too."
The source also maintained that because the commission was not invited to any meeting or congress where Governor Buni was removed as chairman, INEC would not honour the letter from Governor Bello as it was not legally constituted.
APC: Documents show why scheduled March 26, national convention may not hold
There are indications that the Saturday, March 26, the national convention of ruling All Progressives Congress might not hold.
Court documents show that the APC is yet to secure a court ruling to vacate an order stopping it from conducting its convention.
It was gathered that the newly amended Electoral Act and the timetable released by INEC might also work against the party even if the order is vacated.
Buhari cannot sack Buni As APC national caretaker chairman, says party chieftain
Recall that Ben Abdul, a constitutional and international analyst and chieftain of the APC, recently declared that President Buhari cannot sack Governor Buni as the national caretaker chairman of the ruling party.
Abdul made this known in a statement sent to journalists on Monday, March 7, while reacting to the lead story in a major national newspaper that President Buhari had sacked Buni.
He said the only organ of the party that can remove Buni as the chairman of the party is the NEC which is the highest decision-making organ of the party.