Only about 48 hours before the Presidential Primary/ National Convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), a law firm, Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle of Law, has warned the party against electing the former Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Ameachi as its presidential candidate, according to SaharaReporters.
The firm gave the warning in a letter to the National Chairman of APC, Mr. Abdullahi Adamu, with the number KACCL/LET/IO/082/2022 3rd May, 2022 and was signed by Dr. Olukayode Ajulo.
The letter is titled: "Legal implications of Supreme Court ruling on Rotimi Amaechi as the APC presidential aspirant."
It noted that going by the ruling of the apex court on Amaechi's financial indictment by a probe panel set up by the Rivers State government, Amaechi is ineligible to contest for the party's presidential ticket, citing Section 137 subsection 1 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The firm expressed fear that should Amaechi become the President or Vice President in the 2023 general elections, the party "will be taking the risk of handing over power to the next candidate with the highest votes."
It added that APC will suffer the same fate that befell its Bayelsa State Governor-elect in 2020, Hon. David Lyon, who was disqualified by the Supreme Court on the basis that his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi–Eremienyo presented false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to aid his qualifications for the state governorship election.
"This is a clear reinforcement that the ticket is a joint ticket and the disqualification of one member of the ticket disqualifies the joint ticket," the letter reads in part.
In the letter, the firm also copied President Muhammadu Buhari; Attorney General of the Federation & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN and Rotimi Amaechi himself.
It reads, "It is with great concerns for the progress of the All Progressives Congress (APC) political party that I forward this letter specifically on the above subject matter.
"Please recall that in the year 2015, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry (hereinafter referred to as “the Panel”) to probe some transactions by the Rivers State Government under Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, who was Governor of the State from 2007 to 2015.
"The said Panel set up an investigation into Rivers State Government Financial Transaction under the then Governor of the State, H. E. Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, wherein some persons and the then Governor were subsequently indicted and Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi filed a lawsuit against the decision of the Panel and the Panel itself.
"The suit went from the High Court to the Appeal Court and to the Supreme Court, in dismissing the appeal in its entirety, the Apex Court also ordered him to pay the cost.
"It is a well-known fact that Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi is one of the presidential aspirants of the All Progressive Congress Party and as such, the indictment and the subsequent White Paper with recommended prosecution as well as the Judgement of the Supreme Court touch on core objectives of the APC party to produce the next president for our great country Nigeria.
"According to Section 137(i) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended): Anyone that ‘has been indicted for embezzlement or fraud by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry or an Administrative Panel of Inquiry or a Tribunal set up under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act, or a Tribunals of Inquiry Law or any other law by Federal or State Government which indictment has been accepted by the Federal or State Government respectively...stands disqualified to be sworn in as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’”
It added, "Though Hon. Rotimi Amaechi has not yet been tried by a law court in respect of the accused fraud and embezzlement, the provision of Section 137(i) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) has already disqualified him.
"Committing to mind that the Presidential race for the election year 2023 has been picked up by all and sundry, other political opponents will very much ecstatic to see APC commit this grave error.
"It is apposite that the APC party takes all necessary steps to ensure that due diligence is carried out on all the party’s presidential candidates. The future of our great nation Nigeria is in our hands to mold, mend and take to greater heights and it will be most regretful if this opportunity is lost on issues that are avoidable.
"While thanking you for your commendable strides and continuous actions towards the progress of the APC party and the country at large, I believe that this looming issue will be accorded the urgent attention that it deserves."