Two chieftains of All Progressive Congress (APC), the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (DG, VON), Mr Osita Okechukwu and former National Vice Chairman of the party, Prince Hilliard Etta, yesterday, crossed words over attempts to reinstate the sacked Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC).
Eta, had in a suit filed at Federal High Court Abuja last week, prayed for the dissolution of the National Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (NCECPC), chaired by Yobe State Governor, Mallam Mai Mala Buni. The suit was seen as a covert way to reinstate Oshiomhole and the NWC, which was dissolved by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
But irked by the moves, Okechukwu, who was a member of the merger committee that led to the formation of APC, told journalists in Abuja that it behooves Etta, who is a former National Vice Chairman South/South, to withdraw the suit in the interest of the party.
While accusing Etta of doing the bidding of main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Okechukwu noted that Eta’s action could lead to his outright expulsion from APC if he fails to withdraw the suit.
But, when reminded of Eta’s claim that his action was in line with the APC Constitution and the 1999 Constitution as amended, the VON DG said Etta was being economical with the truth.
His words: “Without prejudice to the court process, more so when I don’t know the “we” he is representing or talking about; Etta knows that Section 21 (A) of the APC Constitution frowns on offences bordering on anti-party activities or any conduct likely to embarrass or have adverse effects on the party. Is his suit in spite of his bogus claim, not capable of deceiving the gullible?
“If he continues in his misadventure, he can’t claim ignorance of how APC’s Constitution views impersonation and how it rates anyone heading to court against the party without first exhausting all avenues for redress as provided in the Constitution.”
Okechukwu expressed the fear that Etta was courting expulsion, stressing, “If he fails to withdraw the suit forthwith, it means that one may not be wrong in suspecting Etta as PDP’s mole. I’m earnestly pleading with him to beware of how politically incorrect it is to be accused of spying for PDP.
“My take is to ask Etta to, as a matter of urgent national importance withdraw the suit forthwith. Otherwise, without prejudice to court process, is it not afterthought, that five months after, Etta kept quiet after the National Working Committee, which he belonged, was validly dissolved?
“Where was he when his former national chairman, Oshiomhole, endorsed and upheld the dissolution of the NWC in the collective interest of our great party?”
“Why is it now that many prominent PDP members are migrating to the APC that he woke up from his deep slumber? How come that he can flagrantly disobey Mr. President, who admonished us to withdraw all cases for the peace and harmony of our party?”
But when contacted Etta said he couldn’t join issues with “atavistic persons,” even though that in the suit he filed through his counsel, Chief Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, he raised some salient issues for determination.
Defendants in the suit were Governor Buni, Sen. John Akpan Udoedehe, the National Secretary, Isiaka Oyetola, Sani Bello, Stella Oketete and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
In the Originating Summons, Governor Buni, Akpan Udoedehe, Oyetola, Bello and Oketete are the 1st to 5th defendants while INEC is the 6th defendant.
Etta, who is a staunch ally of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and Oshiomhole prayed the court to determine the following questions:
*Whether having regard to Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 17 (iv) of the Constitution of All Progressives Congress (APC) it is an illegality and a void act for a person to hold an executive office in the Government simultaneously with an office in any organ of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at any level, in whatever capacity.
*Whether having regard to Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Articles 20()a), 170) and (iv) of the Constitution of the All Progressives Congress (APC), only persons who are not disqualified from holding office by virtue of the Constitution may run the affairs of the Party including the holding of a National Conventions and Congresses of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
*Whether an act perpetuated in violation of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Article 17() and (iv) and 20() ) of the Constitution of the APC is void abinitio, conferring or extinguishing no legal rights whatsoever.
The plaintiffs also prayed the court for, “an order setting aside and nullifying the appointment and constitution of the 1st to 5th defendants into a caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee of the all progressives congress (APC).
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, acting by themselves or through their agents and servants, from continuing to hold out, present and or parade themselves as the caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee of the APC or from taking any steps whatsoever as either national Chairman, National Secretary or members respectively of the caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee of the APC.”
The plaintiffs also sought for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 6 defendant from recognizing and or continuing to recognize the 1st to 5th defendants as National Chairman, National Secretary or members respectively of the caretaker/extraordinary convention planning commíttee of the all progressives congress (APC).
In the affidavit in support of the originating summons, Etagboeta said the NWC reacted to the proposed illegal meeting in a document captioned Press Statement by All Progressives Congress (APC) National Working Committee (NWC)” clearly expressing that the proposed meeting violated the Constitution of APC.
He said the Ist to 5th Defendants and those who projected them were duly alerted of the illegality of their acts, “yet they persisted in such illegality and willful disregard of the organic document of the 1st Plaintiff.”
Although no date has been fixed for the hearing, the plaintiff lamented that the “6th Defendant no longer deals with the duly elected Executive of APC, but on the contrary, have recognized the Ist to 5th Defendants in all matters concerning the 1st Plaintiff, which contravenes the Constitution of APC.
“The 1st to 5th Defendants up till today are discharging the functions of the National Working Committee of the 1 Plaintiff and are parading themselves the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.’’