There are concerns that the rising court cases against the ruling All Progressives Congress may affect the party’s national convention scheduled for February.
Sunday PUNCH gathered on Friday that aggrieved members from Lagos, Zamfara, Taraba and Kaduna states were either filing or threatening to file cases against the party leadership at both state and national levels.
There are currently no fewer than seven cases pending before the Federal High Court, Abuja challenging either the legitimacy of the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led party leadership or the outcome of decisions taken by the committee since its inauguration on June 25, 2020.
At the last count, there were crises in at least 13 state chapters of the party. The states include Lagos, Bauchi, Imo, Enugu, Plateau, Zamfara, Kwara, Gombe, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti and Taraba.
Of the five pending cases, three were initiated by members of the ruling party while the Peoples Democratic Party and the New Nigeria Peoples Party each initiated one.
One of the cases filed by party members was instituted by Okosisi Ngwu, who asked the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory to sack the Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and nullify all the actions it had so far taken, including the recent ward congresses.
In the light of these and other cases, a factional leader of the Zamfara State chapter of the APC, Senator Kabiru Marafa, in a telephone interview with Saturday PUNCH in Abuja on Friday, dismissed plans by the party to hold its national convention in February 2022.
He said, “We will advise Buni and members of his illegal committee not to waste scarce party funds in conducting another illegal act in the name of a national convention without doing the needful. Leaders of the APC in my state who were illegally removed from their leadership positions are already in court challenging that decision.
“Some of us are putting our papers together to challenge the very existence of the so-called Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee headed by Mai Mala Buni. The tenure of that illegal committee expired in June, the committee is still there acting illegally and causing trouble all over the place. Buni should take the path of honour and resign while he still has the chance.
“We are heading to court; let the court decide whether our constitution or the APC constitution has any provision allowing a serving governor to hold office and at the same time preside as (a party’s) national chairman. We will challenge every decision taken by this illegal committee since it came into office in June 2020.”
In response to a question on why he was resorting to litigation against a presidential directive asking party members to withdraw pending cases, he said, “Some people are deliberately twisting what Mr President (Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)said to suit themselves. President Buhari is not against people going to court to get justice. He went to court three times before. We have exhausted internal mechanisms to try to get our party at the national level to see reason but it has refused. We have written letters, sent delegations but nobody is listening.”
Why we are still in court – Aggrieved members in Bauchi
Abdullahi, popularly called Sanin-Mallam, who filed the suit in Abuja, said they were still in court because the party leadership had not shown cause to warrant a withdrawal.
“You cannot beat a child and deny him the right to cry. We were unjustly treated and we intend to pursue this case until we get justice,” he added.
Asked whether his group was not mindful of the effect the case could have on the scheduled February 2020 convention date, he said, “We cannot be talking about any convention now when the process of producing delegates, which is the foundation, is still being challenged in court.”
APC risks extinction in Taraba, says BoT member
A member of the yet-to-be inaugurated APC Board of Trustees, Elnathan Antibas, charged the national leadership of the party to wake up to its responsibilities and stop supporting illegality under any guise.
He told one of our correspondents in an interview that contrary to speculations, there were no congresses held at any level in Taraba State.
“What happened was that a group of desperate characters gathered in someone’s farm, drew up a list and claimed that a new set of party offices had emerged via consensus. Our party constitution is clear. It states that in the case of a consensus, all parties should agree and that in the event they didn’t agree, you go and vote. As I speak to you, two separate groups of party members are in court challenging the charade.”
He stated that unless justice was done, the APC was likely to fizzle out in the state on or before the 2023 general election.
In Plateau State, a faction of the party under the leadership of Ishaya Itse has asked the state High Court to invalidate the emergence of Rufus Bature and the entire leadership of the faction recognised by Governor Simon Lalong.
Spokesperson for the Concerned APC members, a pressure group within the party said, “We don’t want to sound like prophets of doom but the truth is we do not see the convention happening in February. The reason is simple, we have at least two factional chairmen in many states, getting an agreeable delegate list will be a major challenge and you cannot have a convention without one.”
The APC held its ward congresses on July 31, 2021, followed by local government congresses on September 4 and state congresses on October 16.
The national convention, which was initially scheduled to hold in December 2020, was postponed till June 2021 after a meeting of the National Executive Committee of the party, which was presided over by the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on December 8, 2020.
The Buni-led committee was inaugurated on June 25, 2020 and given six months within which to conduct the convention.
It was given an additional six months on December 8, 2020, which expired in June 2021. However, when this lapsed on June 26, 2021, another NEC meeting presided over by Buhari approved an indefinite timeline for the committee to achieve its objectives.
The National Secretary of the party, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, had said the Buni-led committee remained focused in its task of ensuring that the party went into the convention as a united family, hence its desire to ensure that no state was left behind.
Division persists in states
In Ogun State, the chairman of the faction loyal to former governor Ibikunle Amosun, Derin Adebiyi, has said the crisis rocking the party could only be solved through equity, justice and fairness. He however said his faction would abide by the decision of the national leadership.
The state chapter of the party has been factionalised into two groups, one loyal to Amosun and the other loyal to the governor, Dapo Abiodun.
While Adebiyi is leading the faction loyal to Amosun, Yemi Sanusi leads the faction loyal to Abiodun.
Asked whether the list of the state executives had been submitted to the national leadership, Adebiyi said, “The national headquarters conducted the election that brought in our executive, so they must have submitted the list to the appropriate quarters.”
In Ekiti State, the Secretary, South West Agenda for Asiwaju 2023, Femi Adeleye, said on Friday that the national leadership would have no reason but to recognise the delegates from the group for the convention. “We are qualified to be there and we will be there and for now, no list is out because the state executive committee has not been inaugurated,” he added.
He noted that if they were denied recognition at the convention, they would seek redress in court.
The SWAGA national leadership last month inaugurated parallel APC ward and local government executive committees which it described as the authentic APC leadership in the state.
Asked how the crisis in the party could be solved, Adeleye said, “Our party recognises the governor as the party leader and the governor is in a best position to call all aggrieved parties if he is not partial. If that is done, there will be peace and everybody will be happy and begin to work in the interest of the party. When there is no justice, there cannot be peace. Everybody is interested in justice,” he said.
In Delta State, the factional executive loyal to the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, called on the national leadership to pay attention to the council of leaders in the state.
The deputy chairman, Elvis Ayomanor, said the list of its executive had been submitted to the national headquarters, adding that the postponement of the convention till February would give ample time for unresolved issues to be addressed.
He added, “A lot of states, including Delta, have serious issues that could lead to outburst of anger at the convention. If you recall, in 2018 convention, about two states including Delta had a quarrel at the Eagle Square.
“If the party faced such an embarrassment at that time, think of what would happen in a situation where we have 96 chairmen from 36 states, which means virtually every state has a problem. I think that is why in the wisdom of the leadership, they have to move the convention to February 2022 to allow for some time to resolve these issues, because whether they like it or not, we have two factions in Delta State.”
Rivers APC differ on mode of primary
Ahead of the convention, the Rivers State chapter of the party is divided over the mode of election. Regardless, both the Senator Magnus Abe and Rotimi Amarchi-led factions have expressed readiness to participate in the convention.
While the chairman of the Abe faction, Golden Chioma, supports direct primaries, saying it is a true reflection of democracy, the Publicity Secretary of the Amaechi faction, Chris Finebone, said it was too early to say.
On the issue of delegates, Finebone said their list would be accepted, while Chioma said “when we get to the bridge we will cross it and you know we have what is called associate delegates”.
In Kwara State, a faction of the party led by Bashir Bolarinwa said it had not filed a new suit to challenge the parallel congress in the state since it already filed a suit against the Buni-led committee on the illegal removal of the state chairman of the party.
The deputy chairman of the party elected by the faction, Chief Sunday Oyebiyi, told one of our correspondents that the faction had not filed a fresh suit to challenge the congress held by Governor AbdulRahman Abdulrazaq’s faction because the suit previously filed at the Abuja High Court was capable of defining the authentic group.
Oyebiyi, who said the suit had been fixed for hearing on December 2, stated, “We believe the suit is enough to clarify and save the party from being hijacked by those who were not the original members of the party.”
He said the faction submitted its list of executives elected at its congress to the national secretariat of the party but that it had yet to get a response.
He said the crisis in the party could be resolved but that no one had taken any initiative to call the two parties.
In Oyo State, the party had been embroiled in crisis after the state congress. The APC chairman in the state said through his media aide, Olawale Shadare, that he had submitted the list of new executives to the national secretariat, adding that they were in support of direct primary.
He added, “The crisis will be solved if all stakeholders are prepared to put the interest of the party before their individual ambition. Party supremacy has to be respected while we must also be ready to play the game by the rules.”
We won’t leave Osun APC for Oyetola’s group –Factional secretary
In Osun State, the secretary of the faction backed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, Mr Lani Baderinwa, told one of our correspondents, that members of the group would not leave the party for the faction backed by the governor, Adegboyega Oyetola.
He said the faction had submitted the list of those that emerged during the congresses it held to the national secretariat, adding that the group had also been relating with the national leadership regarding all actions taken so far.
He further explained that the faction had already approached the court concerning the ward congress, but expressed readiness for an amicable resolution of the crises. “APC was built by all of us and whether they like it or not, we will stay in the house together,” Baderinwa said.
We’ll resolve A’Ibom APC crisis before convention, says Ewang
A chieftain of the APC in Akwa Ibom State, Grp. Captain Sam Ewang (retd.), has expressed confidence in the ability of the party’s reconciliation committee to resolve all issues arising from the state congresses before the convention.
In Cross River State, the chairman of a faction of the party, John Jallo Egbeji, has said members of his faction would attend the party’s national convention in February 2022.
He told one of our correspondents in an interview on Friday, that he was not a factional chairman but the authentic chairman awaiting inauguration.
Asked whether his faction would attend the convention, he said, “The national secretariat knows the consequences of excluding authentic delegates from participating in the convention.”
APC Reconciliation Committee assures members of fair hearing
The APC National Reconciliation Committee has assured aggrieved party members of equal opportunity and fair hearing as it begins sitting.
The chairman of the committee, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, gave the assurance while speaking with journalists in Abuja on Saturday.
Marafa’s faction defies Buni, holds congress in Zamfara
The crisis of confidence between aggrieved party members and the Buni-led committee took a turn for the worse on Saturday following the decision of supporters of the Senator Kabiru Marafa-led faction of the party in Zamfara State to hold fresh congresses to elect new state officials for the party.
Thousands of party members who pledged allegiance to Marafa from across the 14 local government areas of the state gathered in Gusau, the state capital, and elected Alhaji Surajo Maikatako as the new state chairman.
The PUNCH had reported that Marafa and his supporters held ward and local government congresses.
Saturday’s exercise was held peacefully under the watchful eyes of security operatives.
In his acceptance speech, the new factional state chairman, Maikatako expressed gratitude to members of the party for the confidence reposed in him. He commended security agencies for the support given to them during the exercise.
Other elected members are Dan Malam Mai Yadi, Vice Chairman; Nasiru Muhammad Gummi, Secretary; Auwalu Garba Alhazzai, Treasurer; and Babangida Abubakar Gusau, Legal Adviser.
Also elected are Mamuda Gaba, Financial Secretary; Bello Bakyasuwa, Publicity Secretary); Kabiru Rabiu, Auditor; Lauwali Bello Viara, Youth Leader; Hussaini Dan Isha, Welfare Secretary; Nafisa Ahmad, Women Leader; and Abubakar Usman Gora, Organising Secretary.
Attempts to get an official reaction from the national leadership of the APC were futile.
Calls to the mobile telephone of the National Secretary indicated that it was out of reach while a response to a text message sent to him was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.
Additional reports: James Abraham, Daud Olatunji, Dennis Naku, Matthew Ochei, Tunde Oyekola, Olufemi Olaniyi, Patrick Odey, Ada Wodu, Abiodun Nejo and Bola Bamigbola.