APC Govs, Party Leaders Meet over Edo Election Tomorrow

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•Another chieftain challenges caretakers’ legitimacy in court

By Iyobosa Uwugiaren, Deji Elumoye, Alex Enumah in Abuja and James Sowole

All Progressives Congress (APC) governors and top leaders of the party will meet with the Edo State governorship candidate, Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu, in Abuja tomorrow, to review the preparations for the September 19 election and fine-tune strategies on how to win the poll.

But the internal wrangling within the party has continued unabated as one of its chieftains, Mr. Kalu Agu, has instituted a court action challenging the dissolution of the Mr. Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.

However, in a swift reaction, the party said members seeking a solution to their grievances in the courts should embrace the dispute resolution mechanism of the party.

It also slammed some governorship aspirants in Ondo State protesting the mode of primary to be adopted by the party to conduct the July 20 primary, saying that aspirants cannot impose the mode of primary on the party.

The meeting of the APC leaders, according to insiders, is at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, who was said to have directed them to ensure that the party wins the September governorship election in Edo State by deploring all their resources in mobilising the electorate for the party’s candidate.

THISDAY gathered last night that Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State who doubles as chairman of APC Governors’ Forum; Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, who is also the Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum and Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, are deeply involved in the strategic meeting.

The meeting, which will also be attended by the party’s National Caretaker Committee members, is coming at a time some of the party’s National Campaign Council for Edo State Election members have relocated to Benin City, the state capital, to help strengthen the campaign structures.

Former member, House of Representatives and Vice-Chairman, APC National Campaign Council for the September 19 Governorship Elections in Edo State, Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon, told journalists that Ize-Iyamu is unbeatable in the forthcoming elections.

Describing the APC candidate as a ‘’grassroots politician,’’ he said Ize-Iyamu is a man that has shown a single-minded determination to the politics of the state all his life.
He added that this intuitive commitment has won him a lot of committed loyalists all over the state, Nigeria and in the Diaspora.

Another Chieftain Challenges Caretakers’ Legitimacy in Court

A youth leader of APC in Abia State, Mr. Kalu Agu, has instituted a court action to challenge the powers of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the party to remove the NWC members barely two years out of the constitutionally guaranteed four-year term of office.

In the fresh suit with number: FHC/ABJ/ CS/736/2020, the plaintiff is praying for an order of the Federal High Court, setting aside the dissolution of the NWC by APC’s NEC meeting held at the presidential villa last month.
He is also praying the court for an order restraining the National Caretaker Committee members, led by the Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, from parading themselves as national officers of the APC and from usurping the functions of the party’s NWC.

He also prayed the court for an order restraining the National Caretaker Committee from putting into effect, the resolution of the APC’s NEC meeting passed on June 25, 2020, and for another order against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising, dealing with or relating with the caretaker committee in whatever guise to usurp the functions of the NWC.

Similarly, the plaintiff also prayed for an order of mandatory injunction compelling INEC to continue to recognise the Oshiomhole-led members of the NWC as the authentic national officers of the party.
In the suit filed on his behalf by Mr. Ukpai Ukairo, dated July 8, the APC chieftain is also asking the court to strike down Article 17 of the APC’s constitution, which provides for the appointment of officers into the organs of the party for being inconsistent with section 223 of the 1999 Constitution and section 85 of the Electoral Act of 2010.

Respondents in the suit include the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC, Buni, Isiaka Oyebola, Senator Ken Nnamani, Ms. Stella Okorete, Niger State Governor, Alhaji Sani Bello, Dr. James Lalu, Senator Abubakar Yusuf and Mr. Akinyemi Olaide.

In a 44-paragraph affidavit in support of the originating summons, the plaintiff claimed to be one of the foundation members of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) under which he contested for the House of Representatives in Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency of Abia State in 2011 and that after 2011 general elections the party along with others merged in 2013 to form the present APC.

He averred that he is an accredited APC member and that he was elected as the Abia State Youth Leader in April 2014 during the state’s congress held at Umuahia, adding that the national officers of the APC were also elected in 2014 in accordance with the party’s constitution.

Insisting that the 1999 Constitution guaranteed four-year tenure for party officials, Agu averred that in breach of the same constitution on June 25, 2020, APC’s NEC meeting at the presidential villa, Abuja, passed an illegal and unlawful resolution dissolving the NWC and also setting up an illegal caretaker committee of the NWC.

He noted that members of APC’s NWC had barely spent two years from their four years in office before they were purportedly dissolved by the NEC.

He, therefore, prayed the court to declare the dissolution of the NWC as unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and another declaration that the recognition accorded the caretaker committee is unconstitutional and illegal.
He also prayed the court to declare that the establishment of the caretaker committee for APC by the NEC on June 25, is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

But in a swift reaction, the party has told its members seeking a solution to their grievances in the courts to note that the solution lies within the party.

The spokesman of the caretaker committee, Mr. Yekini Nabena, who spoke to THISDAY, however, added that he would not react until the party is served.

He said: “How can you react to the court cases that you have not seen and that the party has not been served? When the party is served we will now know the content of the case. Once we know that, we will now take a look at it. But at this point, we don’t want any court cases because we want to resolve everything.”

Asked if the party is worried, he added, “The party has not been served; so, I cannot tell you about worried or not being worried. Anybody going to court is because they want a solution – the same thing that we are telling them that that solution can be handled in the party. It is all about give and take; it is a win-win situation. First of all, we need to see the context of the court case.”

Aspirants Can’t Dictate Mode of Primary to Party, Says APC

The party yesterday slammed some governorship aspirants in Ondo State, who protested over the mode of the primary that would be adopted by the party to conduct the July 20 primary. It said aspirants could not impose the mode of primary on the party.

The party in a statement signed by the state Publicity Secretary, Mr. Alex Kalejaye, said: “We wish to place it on record that it is inconceivable that aspirants would dictate to the party on which mode to adopt.

“The chapter is duty-bound to underscore a salient point: that it is the prerogative of the national secretariat to decide which of the modes, spelt out in the party constitution should be adopted for each state at any point in time.

“For the sake of emphasis, the party’s constitution approves three modes of primaries to select its candidates for an election: direct, indirect and consensus. Any of these could be chosen at random, depending on the discretion of the supervising authority.

“The supervising authority in this regard is Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Committee, and saddled with the responsibility to decide the option for Ondo State 2020.”

APC Intensifies Reconciliatory Efforts Nationwide

Meanwhile, the National Caretaker Committee of the party has said the ruling party has commenced reconciliatory visits to aggrieved and critical stakeholders of the party.

A member of the committee, Senator Abubakar Yusuf, who gave an update on the work of the committee since its inauguration last month, also expressed optimism that despite the crisis rocking the party in both Edo and Ondo States, its candidates will win the governorship polls in the two states.

He stated that the National Caretaker Committee is making progress in achieving the unity among the various groups in the party.

This, according to him, is being achieved through physical visitation to national stakeholders and telephone conversations with others.

He said: “We have extended our hands of fellowship to every member of APC and work as a family for the progress and stability of the party. I’m not aware that any dissenting voice has gone to court.

“We have all agreed, as directed by the president, that we should have all our cases withdrawn from the court and then move for full-blown reconciliation.

“Our team had met with [Senator] Ahmed Tinubu and you have all heard what he said. As far as he’s concerned, there is no division in the party. It is democracy, there must be someone or two, who will say he or she doesn’t feel happy the way he is treated or the way the party is being managed, which the committee is ready to pacify.”
The senator, however, said the committee was facing some challenges over its peace mission but was sure of overcoming them.

“When you are dealing with a challenging issue in the house, you will not say you have overcome them. We are in the process of overcoming those challenges. We are in the process of talking to everybody that we know is very important.

“Secondly, we are not saying that the road ahead is not going to be as easy as we thought. It is a road that we will work so hard to overcome. All the caucuses are working together to make sure that the party retains or brings back the glory it has lost over time.

“We lost about seven states in the last general election and we will work to get them back and even add more in the spirit of togetherness,” he stated.