By Ernest Chinwo in Port HarcourtÂ
The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State is deepening by the day as some stakeholders of the party have declared that they do not recognise the state working committee of the party elected in the annulled congress of the party.
The crisis came to the fore on Friday, May 11, the eve of the botched ward congress of the party, when some aggrieved party men protested against their being shut out of the process.
The aggrieved persons subsequently approached a state High Court and obtained an interlocutory injunction restraining the party from going on with the local government and state congresses.
While the state chapter of the party ignored the order and went ahead with the congresses, the national leadership cancelled the exercise and fixed May 19, 20 and 21 respectively for another ward, local government and state congresses which led to the emergence of former Chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government area of the state, Hon. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, as the new chairman of the party.
However, the state High Court, presided over by Justice Chiwendu Nworgu, on Wednesday declared the congresses and their outcome null and void and ordered the party to revert to status quo ante.
Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt Friday, some stakeholders of the party led by a former member of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Marcus Nle-ji, said while they remained members of the APC, they would not recognise the leadership of the party purportedly thrown up by the annulled congresses.
Reading the resolution of the stakeholders, a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice under former Governor Chibuike Amaechi, Hon. Worgu Boms, said their decision not to recognise the Flag-Amachree-led executives and others elected during the congresses of the party, was based on the recent ruling of the state High Court which set aside the congresses.
He said by the ruling of the court, the leadership of the party at all levels in the state had not changed and remain the valid officials.
Boms said: “The court, after hearing all the parties and they came to court with all their lawyers, galaxy of lawyers, granted the following orders; an order of mandatory restoring the status quo of the parties in this suit; that is Ibrahim Umar and 22 others against APC; restoring it to what it was on Friday, May 11, 2018 when the order of interlocutory injunction was granted.
“And in particular, setting aside as null and void and of no effect, the purported respondents’ ward congresses of Saturday, May 12, 2018, Saturday, May 19, 2018, local government congresses of May 20, 2018 and state congresses of May 21, 2018 in Rivers State.
“And restraining the respondents, that is APC, whether by its officers, agents, committees, nominees or any persons howsoeverÂ Â constituted or howsoever constructed, from conducting ward, local government, state congresses or any other congresses whatsoever described in Rivers State chapter, pending the determination of the substantive suit before the Court.
“Gentlemen of the press, the tenor and language and directive of the above orders are very clear and explicit. In the eyes of the law, no congresses of the APC in Rivers State has been held. In law, when an act is declared void, it is taken that the act never existed as nothing can be put on anything that is not there.
“Something cannot be put on nothing. Note also that the court was clear that no kind of congress should hold till the matter in court is disposed off. And the matter was adjourned to the 26th of this month.
“Arising from above, we, APC stakeholders here gathered, state as follows: subject to the APC Constitution, the by this ruling remain where they were as at Friday, May 11, 2018.
“All those who were party officers before that date are the only authentic and valid party officers and thereby remain in their valid positions. If you were not an officer before that date or you became one after that date, by this ruling, you are not an officer of the party in any level.
“We call on the executives of the party at all levels, ward, LGA and state level, to immediately call a meeting of their members so that they can continue administering the party from where they were stopped by the illegal occupation and usurpation of office. Specifically, we call on the working committee at the state level to lead in this direction. We state that these are subject to party constitution and guidelines.”
The Publicity Secretary of the state APC, Chris Finebone, did not respond to calls put across to his line to get his reaction as at the time of filing this report.