- Oshiomhole’s loyalists write president, says he was misled
- Most say gathering unconstitutional, illegal
- INEC rejects party’s notification for Ondo gov primary
Davidson Iriekpen in Lagos, Omololu Ogunmade, Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Loyalists of the suspended National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, seemed to have drawn a battle line with President Muhammadu Buhari over his endorsement Wednesday of a meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), slated for today at the State House, Abuja.
But despite the endorsement of the NEC meeting by Buhari, the National Secretary of APC, Mr. Waziri Bulama, has described the NEC meeting as illegal.
The Oshiomhole loyalists, comprising no fewer than nine governors, about 15 members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) and chairmen of the party in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), have vowed to boycott the meeting.
The NEC meeting was convened by the court-installed acting National Chairman of the party, Chief Victor Giadom, whom many members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) members have insisted lacks the power to proclaim such a gathering because he has been suspended from the party and is no longer a NWC member.
The leadership tussle in the party since the June 16 judgment of the Court of Appeal that affirmed Oshiomhole’s suspension riven the party further yesterday when the president, earlier in the day, broke his silence, saying that based on advice, he would attend the NEC meeting. His decision was widely regarded as an endorsement of Giadom’s leadership of the party.
Few hours later, the NWC, rising from a meeting yesterday night, chaired by another acting National Chairman of the party, Chief Hilliard Eta, said its members would boycott the meeting.
THISDAY also learnt that the governors are expected to meet today in Abuja before going to the State House to formally inform the president that they would not be attending the meeting.
However, analysts told THISDAY that with no clear-cut agenda and a defective notice of meeting issued by Giadom, the NEC meeting is already fundamentally flawed and whatever decision taken is litigious.
Buhari Backs Giadom, Endorses NEC Meeting
The presidential endorsement for Giadom, who is a sworn opponent of Oshiomhole, literally implies a loss of confidence in the Oshiomhole-led NWC of the party, which has rejected Giadom and chosen one of Oshiomhole’s zonal deputies, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, to act as the chairman following Oshiomhole’s suspension.
With Ajimobi in hospital where he is said to be recuperating from COVID-19, the APC NWC had chosen Eta, the national vice chairman, South-south, to hold the fort for him.
Reacting to inquiries by State House correspondents on the position of the president on the party crisis, which has witnessed the emergence of three members of the NWC, laying claims to the acting national chairmanship of the party, presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, said the president opted to support Giadom because the law weighs heavily in his favour.
Giadom had twice obtained court injunctions authorising him to act as the national chairman of the party in the absence of Oshiomhole while another injunction also stopped him from parading himself as acting national chairman.
A statement by Shehu yesterday said the president, whom he said took the decision to back Giadom following advice he had received, would consequently attend the NEC meeting called by Giadom in the State House today.
Shehu explained that the president took the decision because he would always be guided by the law and urged the media to avoid promoting controversies that could further fuel the crisis.
He added that the president would attend Giadom’s virtual NEC meeting today along with governors and members of the National Assembly.
“The president has received very convincing advice on the position of the law as far as the situation in the party is concerned and has determined that the law is on the side of Victor Giadom as acting national chairman.
“Because the president will always act in accordance with the law, the president will be attending the virtual meeting Giadom called for tomorrow afternoon.
“In addition to the president, the Giadom meeting will, hopefully, be attended by our governors and the leaders of the National Assembly,” the statement said.
President Misled, Says Party Leaders
However, THISDAY learnt that Oshiomhole’s loyalists in the party were unhappy about the president’s decision to recognise Giadom.
A source confided in THISDAY that the NWC had written a letter to the president, raising queries over his decision.
According to the anti-Giadom camp, the president was misled into supporting the factional leader.
THISDAY gathered that Buhari was persuaded to back Giadom following his interaction with the Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; his Kebbi State counterpart, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who chairs the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF); Plateau State Governor, Mr. Simon Lalong, who doubles as chairman, Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) and their Jigawa State counterpart, Alhaji Badaru Abubakar.
Sources said Fayemi, Bagudu and Lalong used the platform of the groups they chair, which confer extra privileges on them, to gain access to the president and made him see from their point of view why he should support Giadom and attend today’s NEC meeting.
Besides, the pro-Giadom camp was said to have enlisted the help of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to convince the president, based on the point of law, on which side he should be.
The sources said nine of the governors: Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Prince Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Mr. Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Alhaji Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq (Kwara) and Senator Hope Uzodinma (Imo) will shun the meeting
They are expected to hold a meeting in Abuja early today after which they may announce their boycott.
However, both Katsina State Governor, Hon. Aminu Masari, and his Kogi State counterpart, Mr. Yahaya Bello, are said to be undecided.
According to one of the sources, the 37 state and FCT chairmen of the party, the largest power bloc in the NEC, remain unflinchingly loyal to Oshiomhole and will boycott today’s meeting.
One of the sources said based on fresh facts passed on to the president aftermath of his decision to attend the NEC meeting, he might change his mind.
In addition, he said the convening of the meeting breached the party’s constitution as the notice of meeting Giadom sent out fell short of the stipulated time prescribed by the constitution, which is between seven and 14 days, depending on the circumstances under which the meeting is being convoked.
Meeting Process Fundamentally Flawed, Say Analysts
Some NWC members and analysts who spoke to THISDAY yesterday on the raging crisis in the APC, described the process of calling the meeting as fundamentally flawed.
They described the meeting illegal and an affront to the APC constitution.
One of them noted that the notice of meeting Giadom sent out, as published in the media, has no date.
“This is a fundamental flaw given the fact that Article 25(B) of the APC Constitution stipulates mandatory notice period of “not less than fourteen (14) days” for regular quarterly meetings and “at least seven (7) days’ notice” for emergency NEC meetings.
“Without a date of issuance on the face of the notice, the notice becomes and is void for the very simple and evident reason that it is not possible to determine its conformance to the mandatory notice periods that are stipulated in the APC Constitution. Notice Period,” he said.
He explained that even if it is assumed that the notice was issued on June 23, it still fell short of the minimum seven-day mandatory notice required by the party’s constitution.
Besides the flaw in the time required for the notice of meeting, it was observed that by saying that he issued the notice of meeting on behalf of the NWC, it presupposed that the party organ had met to take a decision while the contrary is the case.
One of the sources wondered whether the NWC ever meet to mandate Giadom to convoke a NEC meeting.
It was also learnt that in line with Article 14.3(ii) of the party’s constitution, only the APC national secretary can issue a notice of meeting.
Article 14.3(ii) says that only the national secretary can
“cause to be issued as directed, notices of meetings of the National Convention, the
National Executive Committee and the National Working Committee of the Party.” The source added that is not quite clear why or in what circumstances Giadom usurped the national secretary’s functions in summoning today’s meeting.
There was also query as to the agenda of the meeting, which was not attached to the notice.
According to one of the sources, Article 25(F)(v) of the APC Constitution mandatorily stipulates that “deliberations at a meeting shall be strictly on the subject matter(s) listed on the agenda of the meeting . . .” The only way that members would and can know “the agenda” for the meeting is if the agenda is included in the meeting notice.
Buhari, Misled Says NWC
Shortly after the president announced his decision to attend the meeting, Eta and Bulama, in a statement they jointly signed, said the NWC members would not attend the meeting, adding that the president was misled to have agreed to attend.
They said: “We wish to unequivocally state that members of the National Working Committee (NWC) believe that the president was offered wrong advice or blackmailed into lending his weighty office to the illegality of the National Executive Committee meeting purportedly convened by one Victor Giadom on 25th June, 2020.
“We hereby respectfully implore Mr. President to kindly avail himself with facts of the matter regarding the impasse presently experienced by the party so as to guide him in his assessment of the matter because we are sure that the president, if properly advised, would come to the conclusion that the meeting convened by Chief Victor Giadom borders on illegality and criminality.
“The National Working Committee (NWC) regrets to turn down the invitation to the illegal and unconstitutional National Executive Committee (NEC) convened by Chief Victor Giadom.”
Bulama, in another statement signed by only him, said Giadom had voluntarily resigned his position as deputy national secretary in compliance with Article 31(1)(i) of the party’s constitution to contest the position of deputy governor in Rivers State during the last general election and has not been re-nominated by his zone to return to that office.
He also cited the Court injunction suspending him as a member of the party as well as his suspension by the Rivers State chapter of the party to buttress the fact that Giadom is ineligible to summon today’s meeting.
Again, Court Restrains Giadom from Parading Himself as APC, Chair
A High Court of Rivers State, sitting in Port Harcourt, has restrained Giadom from participating in any activity of APC.
The court, presided over by Justice C. Nwogu, also restrained Giadom from parading himself as an officer or member of the APC or exercising any right or privilege accruable to members of the party based on his suspension as a member of the party by the state executive committee.
In the orders, which were made on Monday, a copy of which was obtained by THISDAY yesterday, Justice Nwogu said they were based on the suspension of Giadom by the APC State Executive Committee in Rivers State.
The ex-parte application was filed by two members of the party in the state, Okechukwu Chidor Ogbonna and Mac-Lord Peterson, and moved by their lawyer, F.C. Nwafor.
The judge said the orders would subsist pending the determination of the motion on notice already filed before the court.
The judge adjourned the matter till July 9, for the motion on notice for the interlocutory injunction filed by the applicants to be heard.
INEC Rejects APC Notification on Ondo Guber Primary
The chances of the APC fielding candidate in the October 10 Ondo State governorship election are being threatened as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has rejected the party’s notification for its primary.
The APC, in a letter to the commission, which was received on June 18, 2020, fixed July 20 as date for its primary for the election of its candidate for the Ondo State governorship election
The letter was signed by the APC acting National Secretary, Mr. Waziri Bulama, only.
But INEC, in a reply by the Secretary to the Commission, Mrs. Rose Oriarari-Anthony, said the letter did not meet the provisions of its guidelines and regulations.
INEC, in its reply dated June 22, directed APC to ensure that the notification letter be jointly signed by the national chairman and national secretary of the party.
Eta Alleges Threat to His Life
Also yesterday, Eta alleged that his life was being threatened.
Eta, in a telephone interview with journalists, also alleged that he got information that political thugs were planning to torch the national secretariat of the party and frame the NWC members for it.