February 20, 2015 – A serious crisis is currently brewing in the All Progressives Congress, (APC) and the centre no longer holds over the brazen manipulation of substitution of the Lagos Island 1, assembly candidate , Sanni Esinlokun with one Hakeem Masha.
Investigation revealed that the crisis which has now become the subject of litigation at the Federal High Court, Lagos, has pitted the national legal adviser of the party, Dr. Muis Banire against the national leader of the APC , Senator. Bola Tinubu.
Sanni, who is a former Executive Chairman of the Lagos Island Local Government Area, is seeking a declaration of the court that the alleged substitution of his name on the list forwarded to INEC with that of Masha, ran foul of the provisions of sections 33, 34, 35, 36 and 37 of the Electoral Act, 2010.
He is seeking an order of the court restoring his allegedly stolen mandate as the lawfully recognised APC candidate to contest for a seat in the Lagos House of Assembly.
Apart from APC, the other defendants in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/34/15 are INEC and Masha.
In a 37-paragraph affidavit deposed to by himself, Sanni averred, “I am aware that I have not, at any time, withdrawn my candidacy in the race for the Lagos House of Assembly on the platform of the APC and as such remains the substantive and the lawfully nominated candidate of the APC.
“I state that I am alive, fully fit and in good condition of health.”
On Thursday , when the legal proceeding started, the national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, the state chairman in Lagos state, Mr. Henry Ajomale and the G6, the highest advisory body in Lagos comprising, Mr. Tinubu, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, and other elders of the Party dissociated themselves and the APC from the legal representation of the party from Mr. Femi Falana’s chambers. The suit is pending before Justice Ibrahim Buba.
According to the impeccable source close to the party, the substitution of Sanni for Masha , was at it best an abuse of party privileges and an attempt by some unscrupulous elements in the party to subvert the wishes of the members who have shown their support for Sanni.
Accusing fingers are pointing into the direction of Mr. Banire who in connivance with the Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC, Mr. Akin Orebiyi and some Lagos assembly members to effect the illegal substitution.
What is the implication of this crisis on the Party? Sources close to the APC maintain that unless the situation is address urgently and the ticket restored to Sanni, the crack in the party may put it at disadvantage because of the inordinate ambition of Banire to foist his surrogate on the party.
As the source puts it, ” The Electoral Act 2010 as amended is clear on this issue. The three conditions stated for substitution of candidate are: If the candidate dies or withdraws on his own volition or if the federal high court nullifies his nomination.
“The argument by Banire and co that the APC appeal committee sat after the nomination has closed to review the conduct of the primary that produced Sanni is self serving and unfounded. I think there is need to stop illegality in this party and brazen manipulation of candidate’s nominations if we are to be taken seriously.”
As it is now, the stage appear set for a serious crisis as Tinubu and other leaders in APC have shown their preference for Sanni who emerged during the primary, leaving the fate of Masha in the balance.