â€¢ Agbaso is national chairman, insists NWC
By Olawale Ajimotokan in AbujaÂ andÂ David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Oye, yesterday said the party had slated August 15 for its primary election to select a candidate to fly its flag in the November 18 governorship election in the state.
Oye stated this in an interview with journalists at his house in Amawbia, Anambra State.
He said this was coming on the heels of two separate High Court judgments in Awka and Nnewi last Friday, where the courts held that the factional National Chairman of the party, Chief Martin Agbaso, cannot hold the primary election for the party.
Â Oye said with the judgments, Agbaso has been permanently gotten rid of in the party. He said Agbaso was not a member of the party ab initio, and as such, cannot contend its leadership.
He said: â€œThe two court judgment came simultaneously, and you saw the joy the people expressed yesterday over it. The court simply interpreted the constitution of the party and said the chairman of the party was elected through a national convention, and only a national convention can remove him.
â€œThe Supreme Court made this clear in the matter between Makarfi and Sheriff in PDP. So we have resolved the problem; there is no more problem in the party, and so we are forging ahead.
Â Oye said the party would start the sale of nomination form within the week, but refused to state how many aspirants were indicating interests to run on the platform of the party besides the state Governor, Chief Willie Obiano.
Â Meanwhile, Oye has denied that former Governor of the state, Peter Obi, has finally left the APGA.
Â He said his party has been speaking with Obi on the need to return, and expressed confidence that soon, Obi would return to the party.
On whether Obi would support his successor, Obiano, to win a second term despite the frosty relationship between the two, Oye said Obi has no other option but to support Obiano.
Meanwhile, Agbaso has been backed by the National Working Committee of the party as itsÂ Acting National Chairman.
The backing followed the validation of a High CourtÂ order of mandamus that sacked Oye by the Court of Appeal in Enugu.
The NWC insisted at the weekend that Agbaso remains the national chairman of APGA pending when both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court decide otherwise.
APGAâ€™s position was taken via a statement issued by the partyâ€™s acting National Publicity Secretary, Onapuruagu Prince Ukaegbu, where it berated Oye and his group for challenging the judgment of the Appeal Court at a lower court.
The statement said the action ridiculed the Nigerian judiciary, stressing that the party would not join hands in bringing the judiciary to ridicule, as the judgment of the Appeal Court superseded whatever judgment was pronounced at the lower court.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was on July 10 compelled by an Appeal Court, sitting in Enugu, to recognise and deal with the Agbaso-led, APGA NWC, after the former chairman, Oye was suspended.
The order also validated a High Court ruling on the same matter.
The development, which led to the APGA leadership to fix its primary election and congress for the November 18 Anambra State governorship election for August 17, 2017 in Awka was, however, challenged by the former chairman.
â€œThe APGA notes with amusement and derision, the bastardisation of the Anambra State judiciary by the government of Anambra State under the watchful eyes of Governor Willie Obiano, in their hallucinated attempt to prop up their puppet chairman, Oye.
â€œThe Awka High Court judicial rascality is of no moment. Article 20(4) of APGA Constitution under which Oye was suspended from office is explicit and does not require a national convention and should not have befuddled the Judge in his mischief and misapplication,â€ the statement said.
It added that the Nnewi Interlocutory Order did not call for much discussion, being a rehearse of the earlier ex-parte order vacated by the same court as being offensive to section 87(11) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
â€œThe provisions of the Electoral Act is clear and robs any court the jurisdiction and powers to bar persons, parties and the INEC from conducting primaries or election.â€
Ukaegbu noted further that the partyâ€™s programme and activities for the gubernatorial election in Anambra scheduled for November 18, 2017 remains on track.
However, Obiano has described as landmark, the recent court judgments delivered by Awka and Nnewi High Courts which affirmed Oye as the authentic National Chairman of APGA
He also said it was a vindication of his earlier position.
A statement issued by his Senior Media Aide, Oliver Okpala, in Awka said the judgment has restored the hope of Nigerians in the principle of the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.
According to him, â€œthe judgment on APGA and that of the PDP which upheld the leadership of Senator Ahmed Makarfi recently has once again affirmedÂ the principle of the supremacy of political party above other sectional considerations.â€
He said the judgment was a frank reminder to merchants of impunity in political parties that there is no longer room for their lawlessness in the nationâ€™s political space.
Okpala advised other arms of government to emulate the judiciary which he said had always risen up to the occasion whenever democracy was at the crossroads.
The media aide said the judgment on APGA has once again confirmed the correctness and clear direction of Obiano as well as cleared off all impediments to his reelection bid.
He described Obiano as a man who believes in the rule of law and abhors in its entirety, political rascality, impunity and lawlessness.