EXCLUSIVE: New Faction In Ruling Party, APC Moves To Influence Electoral Body, INEC On March 26 National Convention

A new faction in the All Progressives Congress (APC) has initiated moves to compromise the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following the rejection of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State as the Chairman of Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the party by the electoral body, multiple sources told SaharaReporters.

INEC had rejected a letter inviting it to an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee of the governing party where Bello’s chairmanship, among other things, was to be ratified.
INEC’s position had been contained in a letter dated March 9, 2022, signed by the Secretary to INEC, Rose Anthony, titled, “Re: Invitation to the emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee.”
The letter was addressed to the National Chairman, APC CECPC.
The commission informed the CECPC that the letter of invitation was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC, Mai Mala Buni and Dr John Akpanudoedehe, respectively.
It said this was contrary to the provision of Article 1.1.3 of the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018).
It, therefore, urged the APC to note the issues raised and ensure immediate compliance.
A new group in the party led by Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, had announced Bello as the party’s CECPC Chairman, claiming that President Muhammadu Buhari directed them to take the step.
Speaking to SaharaReporters, a source said the rejection of Bello had dashed the prospect of the party’s national convention scheduled for March 26.
He added that members of the new cabal in the APC had initiated moves against the electoral body in the hope of forcing it to change its position.
“A serving governor in one of the Northern states and self-anointed Vice Presidential candidate ahead of 2023 has dispatched an emissary to compromise INEC,” the source add.
“The other governors still supporting Buni are also doing everything to make sure INEC doesn’t recognise Bello. One of them told me this morning that they (pro-Buni governors) were aware that their colleagues were doing everything possible to undermine the neutrality expected of INEC.
“He claimed the pro-Bello governors are threatening the leadership of the electoral body, but he doesn’t think it is something that threats or inducement can achieve for them.
“Political parties have had crises in the past but how INEC sticks to the rules in this APC matter will determine the sustainability of democracy in Nigeria. A situation where a small gang of office holders will dictate how a statutory body does its work would spell doom for the country. INEC must stand its ground and do the right thing.”
Another source also revealed that INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, warned all National Commissioners to steer clear of politicians who might want to compromise them for the benefit of any individual political party.
The source, an INEC staff who craved anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to talk said, “They have been in touch with the Chairman through a governor that conversed with him in Hausa over the phone. The tone of the conversation suggests there were threats involved.
“The pressure is really on INEC to reverse itself and recognize the changes that the party made without recourse to the laws guiding electioneering and administration of political parties.
“But even if INEC looked the other way as they are demanding then everything will become a matter for the courts to decide. They are not looking at that the commission has experience with this kind of controversial leadership, and I think the consensus is that we should comply with the letters of the law to avoid the distraction of court cases.
“Professor Yakubu had said INEC will obey every court order and guidelines stipulated in the Electoral Act.”

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