A move to hijack the leadership of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) was resisted yesterday, as the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party insisted that former Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi is acting national chairman of the party.
The NWC rejected the party’s deputy national secretary, Chief Victor Giadom, who declared himself national acting chairman of the party.
The controversy began on Tuesday night following the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which affirmed the suspension of the party’s erstwhile national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole from the party.
Giadom yesterday declared himself as the new acting national chairman of the party following the verdict of the appellate court which withdrew Oshiomhole’s rights and privileges as national chairman of the party, including his security details.
Giadom’s declaration came a few hours after the national publicity secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, had issued a statement announcing Ajimobi who was the party’s deputy national chairman (South) as the acting national chairman.
Briefing journalists at the APC national secretariat yesterday morning, the deputy national secretary of the party declared himself acting national chairman of the APC relying on the order by Justice S.U. Bature in a suit number FCT/HC/M/6447/2020.
Giadom declared null and void the Edo screening committee, calling on all aspirants to report for fresh screening, just as he assured aggrieved aspirants of fairness.
He further announced the removal of the national organising secretary of APC, Mr Emmanuel Ibediro, insisting that the move was in compliance with the judgement of the Federal High Court in suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/733/2018 which had removed him.
He said, “Yesterday the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, in a unanimous judgement, affirmed the suspension of Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress.
“Consequently, I bring to your notice that on the 16th of March 2020, Hon Justice S.U. Bature in suit no FCT/HC/M/6447/2020 had ordered that, with the earlier suspension of Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomohle, I, Chief Hon Victor Giadom, should act as national chairman of our great party. That Order could not be immediately effected at that time because of the temporary reprieve Adams Oshiomohle got from the Court of Appeal on the same date.
“However, having removed the temporary reprieve yesterday by the Court of Appeal and considering the fact that we cannot allow for a vacuum, I most humbly inform you that I have assumed office as Acting National Chairman of our great party in compliance with the order of the court.”
On the annulment of the Edo screening committee’s report, Giadom said, “Our party, the All Progressives Congress, will no longer allow local quests for the control of power to influence our decisions. As your Acting National Chairman and presiding officer in the NWC, we therefore cancel the decision of the Screening and Appeal Committees of the former Chairman of the party on the Edo primaries.
“This is in strict compliance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that forbids anyone who is interested in a cause to be a judge in that same cause.
“It is a brazen rape on the Rule of Law and the Constitution of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to preside and select Committees in respect to the Governorship primaries in Edo State being a key player in the crisis in that State.
“We therefore ask all aspirants in the Governorship Primaries to report for fresh screening between today and tomorrow, call on all aspirants to remain in the All Progressives Congress as we guarantee fairness and justice to all concerned. The schedule and time for each aspirant shall be communicated”.
But in a swift and dramatic turn of events, 15 members of the party’s NWC, rising from a meeting, vacated the earlier pronouncements made by Gaidam and declared his seat vacant, insisting that he had since resigned from the party to contest for the deputy governorship of his state.
National vice chairman (South South), Ntufam Hilliard Eta, who briefed journalists on behalf of other NWC members present also announced the setting up of committees for the party’s Edo State governorship primary election scheduled for Monday June 22, 2020 and election appeals committee headed by Prof Mustapha Bello with Dr Kayode Ajulo as secretary. The appeal is scheduled for Wednesday June 24, 2020.
Asked about the status of Chief Giadom, Etta said, “Chief Victor Giadom had resigned to contest as Deputy Governor of the party in the last election and that the party has no recollection that the South-south zone of the party had represented him.
“Therefore the NWC has now asked the South-south of the party to present a member of the party to fill this position.”
Earlier, acting national chairman, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, in a statement signed by his special adviser, Communication and Strategy, Bolaji Tunji, called on stakeholders to continue to observe the peace as he assumes the position of acting National chairman of the APC.
According to the statement, Ajimobi said a meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) would be called soon to resolve all contentious issues.
“We should therefore let peace continue to reign until we call the NEC meeting and take a position on the way forward”, he said.
Ajimobi took over as deputy national chairman in March 2020 when the NWC wrote a letter to the South West, asking the zone to nominate a candidate for the vacant position of the deputy national chairman (South) when the position became vacant with the appointment of Otunba Niyi Adebayo as minister.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is considering granting waiver to Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shuaibu.
This comes as indications have emerged that the party might hold a National Executive Committee (NEC) this week to ratify the defection of the governor and his deputy’s to the party.
Obaseki is expected to defect to the PDP in the next few days following his resignation from the APC on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a faction of the APC in Edo State has faulted the judgment of the Court of Appeal which affirmed Oshiomhole’s suspension as APC national chairman.
The party also said the resignation of Obaseki and his deputy Philp Shaibu from APC vindicated their earlier position that they worked against the APC by “funding candidates of the opposition party in the House of Assembly election in the state.
The party added that the “seamless manner of his assimilation and the open arms that have been extended to him by the leadership of the opposition is in appreciation of his investment in their political fortunes.”
The factional chairman, David Imuse, while addressing newsmen in Benin City on the political development in the state however urged party members to remain calm and keep faith with the leadership of Oshiomhole.
Calls put across to the special adviser on Media and Communication strategy, to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Mr Crusoe Osagie, were unanswered as of the time of filing this report.
A contestant for the deputy national chairman (South) of APC, Mr Akinleye Micheal has threatened to institute contempt action against NWC of the party if Ajimobi is allowed to act as national chairman of the party.
Michael, who gave the warning through a letter by his lawyers to the leadership of the party, said Ajimobi was not qualified to be named acting national chairman.
In the letter sent to the NWC of the APC yesterday by the law firm of Octodas Attorneys, Michael informed the committee that a suit asking that the court orders the APC to fill the vacant position of deputy national chairman (South) in accordance with the party’s constitution has not been decided.
The lawyers argue that until the case is determined, Senator Ajimobi’s purported appointment as deputy national chairman (South), and now as acting national chairman of the party, is a nullity.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked the 15 political parties interested in fielding candidates for the governorship election in Edo State to conclude their primaries for the nomination of candidates in the next 10 days.
The electoral body also stressed the need to safeguard the process and protect all those involved, including the voters, INEC officials, observers, the media and even some of the unarmed security personnel deployed to the polling units, calling for professionalism and neutrality.
Speaking during the second virtual meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) yesterday in Abuja, INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, insisted that the deadline for the submission is Saturday June 27, 2020.
He stressed that the date was firm and fixed and there will be no extension of the deadline.
He said, “While the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates will be the sole responsibility of political parties, our officials will monitor the primaries as required by law.
“Already, the Commission has published the date and mode of primaries for each of the 15 political parties that indicated their intention to participate in the election.’’
Similarly, the chairman of the election umpire said there will be no extension of time for political parties that fail to submit the names and other details of the candidates that emerge from their primaries using the dedicated portal created by the commission.
Mahmood added: For emphasis, the deadline is 6:00pm on Monday 29 June, 2020. Arising from our experience in managing the nomination of candidates for the last two Governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, it is important to draw the attention of political parties to the four mandatory requirements for eligibility of candidates for Governorship elections enshrined in Section 177 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“A candidate nominated by a political party must be a Nigerian citizen by birth, must have attained the age of thirty-five (35) years, must be a member of and sponsored by a political party and must be educated up to at least School Certificate level or equivalent.’’
He said adherence to these clear constitutional provisions was compulsory to avoid the unnecessary litigations that follow the nomination of candidates, some of which are still pending before the courts.
Yakubu said one of such cases involving the attempt to substitute an ineligible candidate by one of the political parties had been determined by the Supreme Court in favour of INEC.