The move by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to punish the Deputy National Chairman (North) Senator Lawal Shuaibu may back fire as he insisted that only the National Executive Committee of the party has the power to investigate and punish him.
In a letter to the Chairman of the five man Committee set up by the National Working Committee, and headed by the Deputy National Chairman (South), Otumba Niyi Adebayo , Shuaibu said the committee was an illegal creation and therefore lacked the power to invite him or investigate him.
He cited article 21 of the APC constitution to back his claim that the National working committee lacked the power to discipline him.
Article 21 of the party constitution states that “subject to the provision of this article and the right to fair hearing, the party shall have power to discipline party members. The power shall be exercise on behalf of the party by the respective Executive Committee of the party at all levels”
However, article 21 (B)(iv) states that “the Executive Committee of the party at the level where a complaint or allegation is made shall have original jurisdiction to hear and determine such complaints or allegation provided that the assumption of jurisdiction by such Executive Committee shall not breach the rules of fair hearing”
He insisted that the fact that the National Working Committee first passed a vote of confidence on the National Chairman before deciding to set up a disciplinary committee to investigate his allegations cast doubt on the entire process.
He informed the committee that he has never been intimidated and will not be intimidated, pointing out that if the party has resolved to punish him, it has no choice than to take the matter before the National Executive Committee of the party.
Shuaibu said: “I don’t know from where the National Working Committee (NWC) derived the power of discipline. The APC Constitution in Article 21 states that such Power shall only be exercised by the party through the respective Executive Committee of the Party at all levels.
“I am not a lawyer, but I have been in the political party system for about a decade now to be able to know that every decision of the party shall be in line with what its constitution stipulates. When I served as a National Secretary, my own National Chairman would insist that I worked with the National Legal Adviser for advice on every issue before any decision was arrived at.
“Given the NWC has the power, how can the Chairman preside over a meeting in which discussions that border on allegations against him are discussed? Let me repeat again as in my letter to the Chairman, You CAN’T BE A JUDGE IN YOUR OWN CASE! And to even say he was seated there to accept a vote of confidence as well as preside over setting up a committee to punish the member that accused him
“Those eminent leaders of the All Progressives Congress had fairness on their minds on matters of discipline and disciplinary procedures when they drafted the constitution. They entrusted the matter of discipline in the party to the larger Executive Committees and not a group of few members of the party some of who might probably be culpable in some instances.
“Otunba my honest advice to you is, since you are the closest NWC member to the Chairman, in order not to drive the party into the muds, always insist on following the due process of law in whatever he wants to commit the party to. All he needs to do is to work closely with the Legal Adviser and not to mock his adviser because if we find any failure in that instance, you cannot blame the Lawyer.
“Niyi, you are also a Lawyer. Why can’t you tell the Chairman when something is right or wrong? Since President Buhari and I met when he joined partisan politics in 2002, l have always known him to insist on due process of law.
“In those days in the ANPP, when he was trying to learn how the game was played, his consistent comment at NEC meetings was “let us do what the constitution says, in that way some of us that are learning the way it is done will understand quicker and better”
“Now let us look at the process, the fact that the NWC members, before resolving to set up your committee, had earlier passed a vote of confidence on the Chairman puts some doubt to its purpose.
“You have already put the cart before the horse. I never expected to receive your letter to investigate me on what I said of the Chairman as there couldn’t have been any need again.
“I was initially gladdened by an earlier statement by the National Publicity Secretary in his media reaction to my letter that “the issues raised in the letter are between two leaders I wonder at what stage it became a National Working Committee (NWC) issue again.
“I can equally imagine how the NWC, an important organ of the party could convene what was described as a regular meeting for which less than 24 hour notice was given, specifically to discuss my opinion on the chairman and even issue a communique in that regard. You are actually making me appear to be more important than I have always felt.
“I am not sure of the source of your meeting with respect to the other shocking allegations contained in your resolutions, but what I read from it in virtually all the Newspapers this morning painted me darker than I am. That I was inciting National Assembly members against the nominees of Mr. President is to say the least, that your meeting ran out of creative ideas on how to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it.
“They are weighty allegations, but I don’t get intimidated and for those who know me, I have never in my life played any double standard and they can tell you that I don’t tell lies for any favours, because I depend on God for all my needs and every other favour. That is why I stood my grounds in advising the Chairman to allow the party a breathing gap to heave a sigh and fly up once again without losing more feathers.
“However, with the aforementioned points in mind, let me state that with due respect to the National Working Committee, an important organ of my party, I will not appear before your committee as it is illegal and I am too informed to get involved in illegalities.
“If you want to punish me for saying what I still believe is true, then you have to take this matter to where you are avoiding, the National Executive Committee.
“My advice is please let us save this Party as a stitch in time saves nine. I assure you there is nothing personal about this except that my concern that the Party is drifting. Niyi, a stitch in time saves nine”