How will the All Progressives Congress (APC) wriggle out of the likely “judicial jeopardy” as a result of the minority judgment of the Supreme Court in the Ondo State governorship election appeal?
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and APC governors are working on a safe option, it was learnt last night.
Some senior party figures have queued behind Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), and former legal adviser Babatunde Ogala (SAN), who warned of a likely dire consequence.
Some others have said there is no cause for alarm over the position of Justices Mary Odili, Ejembi Eko and Mohammed Saulawa that caretaker chair Mai Mala Buni cannot be governor and party leader at the same time.
Although the safe option was unclear last night, a source said the VP cautioned the party against what he termed “legal ditch.”
The source also said Saturday’s Ward Congresses could not be stopped due to a lack of communication between Prof. Osinbajo and Governor Buni until midnight on Friday.
The source expressed optimism that an option was in the loop.
He said: “The VP is of the firm view that the Supreme Court judgment is a clear legal ditch which is best avoided.
“And he wants to ensure that the interest of the party is what is paramount, hoping that all stakeholders would eventually find a way out in the interest of Nigerians who have reposed so much confidence is in the ruling party.
“On the instruction of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Vice President is working out an option to resolve the internal political crisis on the fate of the APC national Caretaker leadership.
“The Vice President has been holding consultations with party leaders and governors on a solution that will save the party from future legal traps which will be acceptable to all within the APC.”
Giving an insight into what transpired on Friday, the source explained: “The Vice President first held a legal review session with lawyers in the cabinet where the issue was discussed. He later engaged in wide consultations with APC governors just before the ward congresses.
“The Caretaker Committee chairman was also reported to have rushed to the Villa with Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello to explain the stance of the caretaker leadership to the VP after efforts to reach him earlier on Friday failed.
” It is believed that the VP, who has been asked to resolve the matter by the President, wants to ensure that the party benefits from what seems to be a legal warning from the Supreme Court ruling which had a 4-3 verdict with the justices questioning the constitutional validity of a sitting governor holding an executive post such as national party Caretaker Chairman.
“While a last-minute cancellation of the Congresses was on the table on Friday night, APC governors explained to the VP that the majority of them would rather prefer to go on with the Congresses. A few others felt an outright cancellation of the Congresses would be inevitable if it went ahead.”
The source, who is aware of the ongoing consultations, said: “It is not true that the VP gave a directive to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) on the matter especially since the AGF is not a party official.” “As for Governor Buni, there was no communication between the VP and him until late Friday night when he reached out to the VP around midnight.
“But by then the governors had already argued for the continuation of the Congresses.”
By Yusuf Alli