Former Rivers South-East Senator, Magnus Ngei Abe, says Labour Minister (State) Festus Keyamo got it wrong on the Supreme Court judgement on the Eyitayo Jegede vs Governor Rotimi Akeredolu case.
He noted that nothing in the judgement implied that a Governor cannot serve as Chairman of any Committee in a political party of which he is a member.
Keyamo had advised the Caretaker Chairman and Yobe Governor, Mai Mala Buni to step down and call off the forthcoming congresses.
The legal practitioner argued that what saved Akeredolu was that Jegede didn’t join Buni as a defendant in his suit at the apex court.
But Abe, a former Secretary to Rivers Government, appealed to All Progressives Congress (APC) members to thread cautiously.
His statement posted on Facebook is titled “No Keyamo: Self-immolation is not the option for APC”.
Abe said the Buni-led caretaker committee has adjusted the seating arrangements in a lot of states and this may explain the stand that some party leaders will take on the issue.
He noted that most members accepted the reality of the Carteaker Committee as a decision of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the APC with President Muhammadu Buhari as leader of the party in attendance.
Abe recalled how leaders, who had reservations about the constitution of the CECPC, were informed that the decision to establish the committee was reached after extensive legal examination of the issues confronting the APC.
He said a body of eminent lawyers holding leadership positions in the party were part of that team.
“Barrister Festus Keyamo, I am given to understand, was one of those legal luminaries whose stand swayed the President in support of the CECPC option as the only means to save our party from imminent self-destruction.
“That is why I was taken aback by the quick and sudden volte-face of Mr. Keyamo in the face o Jegede vs. Akeredolu. There is a popular saying that sometimes “where you stand on an issue is determined by where you sit”.
“The Supreme Court (according to Keyamo’s write-up) held that Buni was not a party to the case and so his status was not determined in the case of Jegede Vs. Akeredolu.”
Abe said it is shocking that any lawyer will, on the basis of that judgement, reach the conclusion that the Supreme Court decided that chairmanship of a committee constituted by the NEC of a political party constitutes paid employment or an executive position as stated in section 183 of the constitution.
The ex-SSG insisted the convention planning committee is a committee of NEC and that Buni was not appointed as executive chairman of the APC.
“He is our Convention Committee Chairman but because the Working Committee of the party was dissolved by NEC, the caretaker members are to take care of the affairs of the party on behalf of NEC until an Executive Chairman is elected by convention.
“This was carefully spelt out in the NEC resolutions that gave birth to CECPC. These documents and others pertaining to Buni, and his lack of remuneration and activities will be evidence before any judicial proceedings to determine the status of the Buni-led Caretaker Committee.
“Any member of the party who is emboldened by Barrister Keyamo’s interpretation of Jegede Vs. Akeredolu to challenge the legality of the caretaker arrangement of our party on that basis may do so, but the litigant will of course bear the burden of proof, and the party should be ready to defend its own position based on the evidence.”
Abe added that Keyamo was second guessing the Supreme Court when he based his understanding of the judgement that any legal challenge against Buni must succeed, no matter the circumstances.
“This is simply incorrect. No two cases are the same. The Supreme Court itself wisely declined to make a pronouncement against Buni on the ground that he was not joined and not heard.”