APC CRISIS FESTERS DESPITE NEW MOVES

The dust raised by the plot to oust the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has not settled as aggrieved chieftains of the party are yet to withdraw court cases they earlier filed, as demanded by reconciliation committee.

Aside the refusal to withdraw litigations earlier initiated before the reconciliation process was activated, the body language and utterances of some of aggrieved stalwarts of the APC indicate that the storm is not yet over, as subterranean  moves are still going on, our correspondents gathered. The crisis rocking the ruling the party reached its peak on March 4 when an Abuja High Court granted an order suspending Adams Oshiomhole as the national chairman.

Until last Monday when the Court of Appeal ruled in his favour, the party had no national chairman for close to two weeks. Various camps raced to obtain court orders. From Abuja to Kano, Lagos to Sokoto, the party recorded six litigations within two weeks, all geared towards the emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting convened to replace Oshiomhole whose reign began in June 2018 following a voice vote by delegates to the National Convention.

Tension was doused when President Muhammadu Buhari and the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) met at the State House in Abuja, where postponement of the NEC meeting was the key resolution. One of the 16 governors who attended the meeting with Buhari told Daily Trust on Sunday that aside the postponement, two other resolutions were reached. He said they resolved to collectively cease fire and work things out. He said they also agreed to give members of the reconciliation committee headed by Chief Bisi Akande the window to conclude their mandate.

Before the State House meeting, nine governors including Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna) with some aggrieved party chieftains had gone far in shopping for Oshiomhole’s replacement. The script for the ousting of the party’s national chairman was to be acted at the NEC meeting. But a source close to El-Rufai said the governor  had no hidden animosity towards Oshiomhole.

He recalled that the chairman was a guest at the governor’s recent 60th birthday and even spoke kindly of him. To halt the plot, a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, tongue-lashed the plotters in a strongly worded statement issued on Monday, describing them as “enemies of President Buhari who are afflicted with the 2023 virus.” Preceding Tinubu’s intervention was a call by the chairman of the reconciliation committee of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, who requested that the aggrieved stalwarts withdraw their court cases for his committee to wade in.

One week after Akande’s request, six cases involving the APC still persist in courts, our correspondent reports. Among them is the case filed in January by some ward members from Edo State seeking to remove Oshiomhole as national chairman of the party. The litigants are Comrade Mustapha Salihu, Anselm Ojezua, Alhaji Sani Gomina, Hon. Fani Wabulari, and Evangelist Princewilll Ejogharado. This litigation is the foundation of Oshiomhole’s latest trouble. It was while ruling on an interlocutory application that an FCT High Court presided over by Justice Danlami Senchi on March 4 suspended Oshiomhole from parading himself as national chairman of the party. Mohammed Rabiu also filed another case before a Federal High Court in Kano against the APC challenging the order of the FCT High Court which suspended Oshiomhole. The court presided over by Justice Lewis Allagoa on March 5 granted an interim order asking the APC to maintain status quo pending the hearing of the main suit which means Oshiomhole remains chairman. The third case came to limelight on March 13. It was filed by the Lagos State chairman of the APC, Tunde Balogun. Case four was said to be filed by the National Vice Chairman (North West) of the party, Inuwa Abdulkadir, in Sokoto. The fifth court case: On March 16, an FCT High Court ruled on a suit by the National Vice Chairman North East, Comrade Mustapha Salihu, against Babatunde Ogala, Lanre Issa Onilu, Waziri Bulama, and the APC. Ruling on the suit, Justice Samira Umar granted an interim order allowing Chief Victor Giadom, the Acting National Secretary, to function undisturbed as the Acting National Chairman.

The appeal by Oshiomhole was the sixth court case involving the APC. The hearing commenced on Friday at the Court of Appeal in Abuja. Why they are yet to withdraw court cases  The APC chairman in Lagos State, Tunde Balogun who filed the Lagos litigation, did not say whether or not he would withdraw his case. The court granted his prayers and adjourned till March 25, 2020 to take the Motion on Notice. Balogun told Daily Trust on Sunday that he would speak on the imbroglio in the party by next week when asked whether he would withdraw his case as suggested by Chief Akande. In Edo, Aslem Ojezua who is one of those who filed the Abuja High Court suit, said their litigation was still on.

On his part, Mustapha Salihu, the National Vice Chairman ( North East) gave reason why they have heed Akande’s advice. “There are conditions that the party gave which will be looked into before the case will be finally withdrawn from court. “Once the conditions given are implemented, which we are working on, we will settle out of court,” he said, but refused to disclose the conditions.

Storm over Ajimobi in South-west

Daily Trust on Sunday learnt yesterday that the appointment of Abiola Ajimobi as deputy national chairman remains a thorny issue which the Akande committee is expected to address. Ajimobi was inaugurated on Tuesday. “The fact is some members still feel aggrieved over the hand picking of Ajimobi without consulting widely considering that in most of the South-west states, there are APC factions,” a chieftain of the APC said on condition of anonymity.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, the chairman of the party in Ekiti State, Barrister Paul Omotoso, described as a nullity, the inauguration of Ajimobi as deputy national chairman of the APC (South), saying it cannot stand. He said the matter was still in court, and Ajimobi would not be recognized by the party in the state as deputy chairman of the party.

I’ve not been invited for inauguration – Bulama

Architect Waziri Bulama who was recently appointed national secretary of the party has explained why he has not assumed duty. The position of national secretary of the party became vacant when Mai Mala Buni left to become governor of Yobe State. Efforts to fill the vacancy also contributed to the escalation of the crisis rocking the party.

Days after Oshiomhole was suspended, Bulama was named the national secretary, Senator Abiola Ajimobi the deputy national chairman (South) and Paul Chukwuma as the national auditor. Bulama said, “I’m waiting to be formally invited to assume duties. All the other new members (Sen Ajimobi and Paul Chukwuma) approved for appointment by the party have been invited. I was informed by the party that they would soon invite us.”

No peace move between Oshiomhole and Obaseki

Chieftains of the party in Edo, where the latest trouble started, said they were yet to see any peace move being carried out in the state. The latest crisis in the party was ballooned by the feud between Governor Obaseki and his predecessor, Oshiomhole. A member of the Oshiomhole faction, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, said the peace move was still in the realm of speculation as he was not sure if the committee had started meeting. “There is a committee that has been set up by the NEC to look into where there are issues. They will look into it and make recommendations and we will all abide by the recommendations. “I know the committee has asked for a memorandum but I am not aware if they have started meeting and every other thing you are hearing is just speculation and the envisaged peaceful move will probably come for that committee,” he said.

On whether the peace move will affect his governorship ambition, he said, “It will not affect my governorship ambition because the party is supreme and I told you that what you are hearing is just speculation and there is no truth in it.” The former deputy governor, Pius Odubu, said he was not aware of the peace move in the state except the Chief Akande-led committee. “It was part of the thing that I told you in my interview that we will gladly embrace peace and anything that will bring peace we will embrace it and we want the party to be reconciled, “he said.

Also speaking, Henry Idahagbon, a member of the faction of the national chairman, said they welcomed reconciliation but that there is no peace move. He said they were happy with the intervention of President Buhari. He added: “At the state level, no peace move has been made. I want to use this opportunity to call on the governor to show leadership example by reaching out to all the aggrieved parties across the length and breadth of Edo State and apologise so that we can forge a common front as we begin the preparation for the next governorship election.”

The Edo State Commissioner for Local Government who is Obaseki’s loyalist, Monday Osagbovo, said they welcomed the peace move. “If brothers or friends are quarrelling, definitely, they must settle and to us the peace move is a welcome development,” he said. He said they were not interested in the national chairman but the second tenure of Obaseki, adding, “He has earned the ticket and second tenure is not a problem now.” “We are satisfied with the peace move and the language is very clear, a governor has the right of first refusal, so for anybody having interest to contest is no longer there.”

We’ll come out stronger – Party elders

The chairman of APC Elders’ Forum in Lagos, Chief Tajudeen Olusi, also urged aggrieved members who have filed cases in court to withdraw them. Olusi said he saw “light at the end of the tunnel” with regard to the crisis in the party, adding that the internal wrangling is normal in an organization made up of human beings. “It is usual that we are bound to have divergent views and clash of interests. All that is happening in the APC is normal and consistent with what usually happens in political parties.

Definitely, there is going to be light at the end of the tunnel,” Olusi said. He noted that the intervention of President Buhari and Bola Tinubu had reduced “noise” in the party to the barest minimum. “The national chairman has extended a hand of fellowship to all aggrieved members. So that is enough indication that at the end we are going to triumph and we are going to settle the differences,” Olusi added. Reports say the suspension of the Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuiabu and the National Vice Chairman (North West), Inuwa Abdulkadir, have been lifted. They have since resumed duties but Shuaibu’s statement supporting Obaseki’s second term showed that the storm is not over.

Read more: https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/apc-crisis-rages-on-despite-truce.html