The ranks and file of factions in the crisis-ridden All Progressives Congress, APC, were further thrown into shock and confusion yesterday as President Muhammadu Buhari intervened by throwing his weight behind the Chief Victor Giadom-led faction of APC.
The President approved the National Executive Council, NEC, meeting summoned by the court-recognized Acting National Chairman, Mr. Giadom, and promised to attend the meeting billed for today.
However, the President’s intervention appears to have added fuel to the raging inferno as members of the factional Acting National Chairman, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, have declared the NEC meeting illegal and urged members to disregard the notice.
The position of President Buhari was contained in a statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu in Abuja.
The statement read: “The President has received very convincing advice on the position of the law as far as the situation in the party is concerned and has determined that the law is on the side of Victor Giadom as acting national chairman.
“Because he will always act in accordance with the law, the President will be attending the virtual meeting Giadom called for tomorrow (today’s) afternoon.
“We urge the media to stop promoting manufactured controversies and to not give any further room for mischievous interpretations of the law on this matter.
“In addition to the President, the Giadom meeting will, hopefully, be attended by our governors and the leaders of the National Assembly.”
Ajimobi’s camp declares meeting illegal
In a statement by National Secretary, Arc. Waziri Bulama, which was released through back channels moments before it emerged that President Buhari had endorsed the Giadom-proposed NEC meeting, urged NEC members to disregard the said notice of meeting.
The party described President Buhari as a stickler for the rule of law, adding that it cannot be true that the President has thrown his weight behind convening such meeting.
The statement read: “We are constrained to once again react to a purported invitation to a National Executive Committee meeting of our great party; the All Progressives Congress issued by one Victor Giadom who until the last general elections in 2019 held the position of the Deputy National Secretary of the Party.
“Our esteemed members are advised to disregard this invitation because the author and sole signatory of the said invitation is not a member of the National Working Committee of our party, talk more of being an Acting National Chairman as claimed.
“He had voluntarily resigned in compliance with Article 31(1)(i) of our Constitution to contest the position of Deputy Governor in Rivers State during the last general elections and has not been re-nominated by his Zone to return to that office.
“Further, his non-membership of the NWC has been affirmed by the courts and an order restraining him from parading himself as a member of the NWC was granted against him on June 22, 2020 in the case of DELE MOSES & ANOR V APC (SUIT NO: PHC/360/2020) where the court said inter alia: “That an Order of interim injunction be and is hereby made restraining the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Defendants, acting by themselves or through any of their officers, agents, or privies from recognizing or regarding the 3rd Defendant/Respondent as the National Chairman or Acting National Chairman or Deputy National Secretary of the 1st Defendant/Respondent or member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the 1st Defendant/Respondent pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice’.
“He has also been suspended by the Rivers State Chapter of our party and the NWC received communication of same on June 21, 2020.
“More instructive is the fact that the said invitation copiously references the NEC meeting he illegally sought to convene on March 17, 2020 with a view to resurrecting same to hold on June 25, 2020. Regrettably, this proposed NEC meeting is also infected by the same bug that rendered the former void which is Article 25 (B) of our Constitution which provides: (i) The National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and or at any time decided by the National Chairman or at the request made in writing by at least two-third of the members of the National Executive Committee provided that less than not less than 14 days notice is given for the meeting to be summoned.
“ii. Without prejudice to Article 25(B)(i) of this Constitution, the National Working Committee may summon an emergency National Executive Committee meeting at any time, provided that at least seven days’ notice of the meeting shall be given to all those entitled to attend.”
“It is clear that even a legitimate chairman is only invested with powers to fix/announce a date for NEC meetings to hold every quarter and nothing more. He cannot summon a meeting on that date because under our Constitution only the National Secretary can do so pursuant to Article 14.3 of our Constitution which provides:
“14.3. The National Secretary shall:
- Cause to be issued as directed, notices of meetings of the National Convention, the National Executive Committee and the National Working Committee of the Party’.
“Indeed two-thirds of the members of NEC may also summon a meeting, but it shall be required that the National Secretary gives 14 days notice to all persons entitled to attend.
“In this case, the purported invitation was illegally issued on June 23, 2020 and the meeting fixed for June 25, 2020 which gives notice for only 2 days. We concede that a shorter Notice period of 7 days is allowed under our Constitution as stated in 25(b)(ii) above, however, a majority of the members of NWC must have voted to summon such a NEC meeting and that was not the case in this instance.
“Our Leader, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is renowned for insisting on compliance with our constitution and rule of law. It can therefore not be true that Mr. President supports the convening of such an illegal NEC by a non-member of APC’s NWC.
“We urge all to disregard the said Notice as neither the NWC nor the NEC has called for such meeting.”
This came as reliable sources said APC governors are in support of the series of interventions of the Director-General of the Progressives Governors Forum, PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman, who yesterday called on party stakeholders to support the move to convene NEC meeting today.
Govs behind PGF D-G
A source, who spoke to reporters in confidence, said that a majority of the governors support the move of the PGF DG.
“Some of the governors are in support of what the Director-General of the PGF is doing though he wrote in his own capacity. It will interest you to know that the D-G, Salihu Lukman, is a card-carrying member of the APC from Kaduna.
“In fact, he contested against Governor Nasir el-Rufai in 2019. You know most of the APC governors cannot come out in the open and make such statements but when someone like him makes such statements, they support it. They neither reprimand nor support him but they know he is speaking their mind,” the source said
In spite of President Buhari’s intervention, the feuding factions were still at each others’ jugular yesterday.
Port Harcourt thugs after me — Hilliard Eta
National Vice Chairman, South-South, Hilliard Eta, raised an alarm yesterday over alleged threats to his life by people he described as political thugs operating from Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
In a quick reaction, Chief Giadom urged him to report the case to the Police, saying it might be possible that Eta is even the one who has a plan to bring in thugs from Calabar, Cross River, to achieve a sinister objective.
Speaking in Abuja, Eta, who said he would file a formal complaint with the Nigeria Police, added that some forces were planning to burn the APC national secretariat and lay the blame on the NWC on the grounds that it does not want Chief Victor Giadom to access the premises.
He said: “We got information that they are going to send thugs from Port Harcourt, they are coming here to burn the secretariat and make it look like the National Working Committee instigated a fire incident so that the secretariat will be burnt down and then, they will give the impression that it is the NWC that is burning down the secretariat because they do not want Victor to come in.
“They have two intentions, that is number one. Number two is that they are going to make an attempt on my life. I just thought that I should let the press know this. I am just moving out of my house, I am coming to the secretariat; from there I will report to the police.”
Report to Police
When contacted on phone, Chief Giadom told reporters that while he would not want to join issues with anyone, the ban on inter-state movement does not make it possible for thugs to criss-cross territories.
Urging Eta to furnish the Police with details of the information at his disposal, Giadom said: “Ordinarily, I would not have reacted. If he has such information, let him report to the Police. The Police have the capability to track such persons. Maybe that is his plan because we all know that there is a ban on inter-state movement.
“He should report to the Police if he has any such information except, of course, he is the one planning to bring in people from Calabar.”
‘External intervention needed to solve crisis in Rivers
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the APC and an ally of Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the Transportation Minister, Prince Tonye Princewill, has called for an external intervention to resolve the lingering crisis in the Rivers State chapter of the party which is also currently threatening its national leadership.
He said: “In 2019, we saw the result of ‘if it’s not me, then it’s nobody’. Today, we are seeing it building slowly again. I didn’t join APC for this. Call leaders to order, calm frayed nerves and let us end this public show of shame.
“It is only the Presidents that can solve this. The Senate President, the Vice President or the President himself. As an Imperial College engineer by training, I believe if you understand problems, you can design solutions. Please, therefore, permit me to quote from Physics, Newton’s first Law of Motion to be exact.
“It says “that every body continues in its state of rest or uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force to do otherwise.” In other words, this big wahala will not end unless big external forces intervene. Amaechi sacrificed more than most people for this party. Bear with him. He has earned that right. Edo and Rivers are linked, and Rivers can move mountains. Suspending Amaechi can never be an option. But I fear that things are about to escalate.
“A party that reflects only Magnus Abe or any other interest and their supporters is not going to take us to the promised land. Neither is one that will reflect only our former governor, the minister and his key team. Everyone should be given a chance to get involved now.”
PGF D-G backs Giadom, urges NBA to delist APC’s legal advisers
Also, Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, Salihu Moh. Lukman, yesterday called on stakeholders of the party to support the move to convene a NEC meeting today
In a statement titled: “APC at Crossroads – Are there going to be Leaders or Blacklegs?,” Lukman lamented that the party leadership has so trampled on the rule of law that the APC Constitution is now lying at a corner and gathering dust at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
He consequently queried the professional competence of the legal advisers of the party, wondering why the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, should continue to enlist them.
The head of the APC Governors’ think-tank also threw a subtle jibe at a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, accusing him of using his media empire to destroy the party.
Lukman faulted a provision of the party’s constitution that makes it difficult for a Deputy National Chairman to assume the leadership of the party in the absence of a National Chairman who is not from his zone.
Legal Adviser tackles PGF D-G
Countering Lukman, National Legal Adviser of APC, Babatunde Ogala , asked him to stop dabbling into party issues that are beyond him, describing his intervention in party affairs as stemming from ignorance.
Ogala in a telephone interview with reporters said he would not join issues with Lukman who he accused of ignorance of party administration and laws.
The APC Legal Adviser was reacting to a statement in which Lukman called for his sack on the grounds that he has not given quality legal advice to the party hierarchy in the midst of its current leadership crisis.
Ogala said: “Is he (Lukman) a lawyer? No. How do I join issues with such people? As an employee of PGF, it is beyond him to be making comments about the party. It is beyond him to be making comments that I owe him no explanation on. I am responsible to those who elected me which does not include him. His employers, the governors, who are my colleagues on the National Executive Committee are those who I can respond to. They are the ones I owe explanations. I sympathize with his ignorance and I will not dignify him with a response. I will not dignify him with a response or else I would be seen to be engaging somebody who is ignorant.
“I do not interpret court judgments. As legal adviser, I obey court orders. My duty is to obey orders of court, not to interpret them and that is why when the court ruled that the chairman should step aside, I treated the order like every other court order that must be obeyed. This is just to educate him, not to join issues with him because he obviously spoke out of ignorance, and he does not have the mandate of his employers, the governors who are my colleagues on the National Executive Committee to make such reckless statements.”
Court approves, compels Giadom to conduct APC NEC meeting today
Meanwhile, a Plateau State High Court sitting in Jos, has granted an order compelling the acting National Chairman of APC, Chief Victor Giadom, to proceed with the Nation Executive Council, NEC meeting fixed for today.
The order was made by Justice N.L. Musa, in suit PLD/J258m/2020, upon the application of the Chairman of Plateau APC, Mr Latep Dabang, who is also a member of NEC.
He complained that the provision of the APC Constitution regarding the convening of a quarterly NEC meeting has been serially abused and ignored by the present NWC, leading to a litany of illegalities by the NWC.
Already letters have been sent out to all the Governors and members of the National Assembly who are NEC members. Whilst the Governors and lawmakers would be seated at the Council Chambers with Mr President, others would join by virtual means.
Already, the visitors list at the Presidential Villa contains the names of NEC members expected to arrive tomorrow, confirming the clear endorsement of the meeting by President Buhari.