Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The estranged Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Timi Frank, has taken the national ledership of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to court for the suspension clamped on him by the leadership of South-south zone of the party.
THISDAY gathered that the party was yesterday served with the court summons to appear today before Court 23 sitting in the Apo District of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
A reliable source at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja who confirmed the receipt of the court papers by the legal department, said the leadership had assembled a legal team to represent it at the court.
However, the embattled deputy spokesman might be facing a risk of expulsion for violating a section of the party’s constitution which bars members from suing the party until they have exhausted internal mechanisms.
Article 21 (section D, subsection 5) of the APC constitution states: “Any member who files an action in court of law against the party or any of it’s officers on any matter or matters relating to the discharge of the duties of the party without first exhausting the avenues for redress provided for in this constitution shall automatically stand expelled from the party on filing such action. And no appeal against the expulsion as stipulated in this clause shall be entertained untill the withdrawal of the action from court by the member.”
The party’s National Vice Chairman (South-south), Ntufam Hilliard Eta, had said the suspension of Frank followed due process.
According to Eta, Frank was suspended after the zonal leadership of APC considered and adopted the recommendations by the disciplinary committee set up to investigate allegations against him.
He explained that the suspension from the party was in line with article 1 (d) and (f) of the party’s constitution.
But the deputy spokesman of the ruling party had rejected the verdict of the disciplinary committee and threatened to deploy all legal means to fight for his right.
While responding to his suspension, Frank said: “I made it clear from the word go that I will not appear before any committee not constituted by the respected party members and NEC because such committee lacks legality. Yes, I got invitation letter from the panel but I made it clear that I will not recognise any committee set up outside NEC.
“I want the party members and Nigerians to disregard anything to that effect. It is a mere desperation act by the party chairman. I still remain the acting spokesman until the appropriate organ of the appoints a substantive officer.
“I did not appear before the committee because it is in our constitution that only NEC can suspend any national officer. Therefore, there is no way I would have appeared before a kangaroo committee set up by the zone,” he said.
Frank’s offences against the party include disregard of the supremacy of the party constitution (Article 2); alleged embarrassing statements against the party and his persistent defiance of the directives of the party, thereby exposing the party to contempt, ridicule and disrepute.
The leadership also accused Frank of disobedience and negligence in carrying out lawful directives of the party, unauthorised publicity of the party’s disputes without exhausting all avenues for settlement and redress within the party as well as factionalisation and creation of parallel party organs and flouting the rules, regulations and decisions of the party.