The ruling party All Progressives Congress (APC) says it will proceed with its special convention without statutory delegates despite the pronouncement by the Federal High Court in Kano.
The party will hold the convention to elects its presidential candidate for the 2023 election from June 6 to 8.
The court on Friday, held that statutory delegates can participate in the primaries of political parties in accordance with the Nigerian constitution.
Statutory delegates include ward councillors, local government chairmen and their deputies, governors and their deputies, president and vice president.
Others are senators and members of the House of Representatives and of State assemblies, and chairmen of the parties in the 774 local government areas.
The judge, A.M. Liman, while delivering judgement in a suit filed by Masijde El-Jibrin Gogowa, a legislative aide to Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives; Habibu Sani and Bilyaminu Shinkafi, said Section 223 of the Nigerian constitution and the APC constitution “allow statutory Delegation (sic) to vote at convention, congress or meeting.”
In the suit filed on May 24, the plaintiffs listed the Senate President, APC National Chairman, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as defendants.
The spokesperson of the APC, Felix Morka, told PREMIUM TIMES that the party will proceed with its convention using the elected delegates as provided in section 84(8) of the electoral act.
Mr Morka said the APC was not a party to the case, as only the National Chairman, Abdulahi Adamu was included in the suit.
He noted that Mr Adamu is not APC.
“We are proceeding with our convention as planned—as originally planned,” Mr Morka said over the phone.
When asked about the court’s decision, he said “What court case? Was the party (APC) a party to the case? Go look at the parties to the case. APC is not a party to the case. They listed the national chairman– National chairman is not a juristic person, APC is the legal person. Nobody sued APC in that matter, so why would you bother with whatever judgement the court gave?”
In the new Electoral Act, the lawmaker had excluded statutory delegates from persons that can vote at congresses and national convention.
Section 84(8) provides that “a political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall clearly outline in its constitution and rule the procedure for the democratic election of delegates to vote at the convention, congress and meeting.”
On May 10, the Senate passed an amendment to the Electoral Act following the consideration of the bill sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege. The bill was given speedy passage.
Leading the debate, Mr Omo-Agege noted that the initial section of the bill was an error on the part of the legislature.
Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act does not provide for the participation of what is generally known as statutory delegates in the conventions, congresses or meetings of political parties, he explained.
“Section 84(8) provides for the participation of elected delegates in the conventions, congresses or meetings of political parties held to nominate candidates.
“This was an unintended error and it can only be corrected with this amendment.”
The following day, the House of Representatives concurred with the Senate in passing the bill. The bill was transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent. However, no feedback has been gotten.
The APC has already approved elected delegates, three per local government area, to take part in the presidential primary. The ruling party has also held its other primaries, state and legislative, without statutory delegates.
The main opposition party, PDP, also used elected delegates for its presidential primary, which produced Atiku Abubakar.