APGA leadership crisis deepens, as two presidential candidates emerge
APGA

Ori Martins

Things are really getting worse each passing day in the camp of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, even as the 2023 general elections are fast approaching. Not only that APGA is confronted by the dangerous evil of leadership tussle, the party is equally engrossed with another crisis bedeviling the emergence of two presidential candidates.

As other parties are settling down for the 2023 presidential election following the successful completion of their respective nominations for their presidential candidates, that could be said of APGA.

The fresh crisis obviously threatening the foundation of APGA, that led to the emergence of two presidential candidates for the 2023 elections, first reared its ugly head on the auspicious day the party received notable politicians who dumped their party – PDP –and declared for APGA on the occasion of its Special Presidential Convention which produced a former Anambra State Chief Judge, Prof. Peter Umeadi as the presidential candidate.

Among those that moved to APGA from PDP on that momentous occasion included former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinayya Abaribe and ex-Information Minister, Chief Frank Frank Nweke Jr. This particular and well tailored event was supervised by the Dr. Victor Oye – led faction of APGA.

Until the recent Supreme Court judgement that purportedly sacked Oye, he was the acclaimed national chairman of the party and most APGA members still address him so. The colourful event was well celebrated by APGA faithful across the country, particularly in the South East.

However, trouble brewed when after two days of the Oye led convention, Supreme Court crowned APGA national chairman, Dr. Edozie Njoku and his faction of NWC (National Working Committee) nominated the party’s founding national chairman, Chief Chekwas Okorie as the presidential candidate of APGA.
At this moment, hell was let loose with a barrage of attacks and counter attack between Oye and Njoku.

Oye fired the first salvo, accusing Njoku of working to distract as well as destabilize APGA. According to him, “APGA is the real party; our last convention was held on 31st May, 2019. Since 2019, we have not had factions in APGA. All the people parading themselves as leaders of APGA are meddlesome interlopers, they are fraudsters”.

“After our 2019 convention, Edozie Njoku went to Owerri to elect himself chairman. This country must be a country of law and order. There is only one leadership in APGA.
“I want the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to be fair in their judgment. We must deal with the people causing trouble in this country. The man called Edozie Njoku does not exist.”

In his response and defence, Njoku noted that the apex court in the country, on May, 2022, recognized him as the substantive national chairman of APGA.

“As a political party, we have noticed series of attempts to confuse the salient issues relating to the recent Supreme Court judgment by some individuals in a bid to create confusion where none exists.

“Recall that ever since the nation’s apex court declared that the removal of Chief Edozie Njoku, as the national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, was illegal and non-justifiable; some misguided individuals whose stock in trade is to benefit from crisis, went to town with the narrative that the pronouncement of the Supreme Court was forged.

“We wish to state that one Jude Okeke claimed that he assumed the position of the acting chairman of the party after Chief Edozie Njoku, who emerged from the National Convention of APGA, which held in Owerri, Imo State capital on May 31, 2019, was suspended.

“On the basis of that false claim, the Jigawa State High Court sitting at Birin Kudu ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, should deal with the said Jude Okeke and uploaded the name of the governorship candidate submitted by him for the November 6, 2021, Anambra State Governorship Election.

“Dissatisfied by that Jigawa State High Court ruling, Ozonkpu Victor Oye, who had been in court with Chief Edozie Njoku approached the Court of Appeal, Kano Division, praying that the Judgment of Jigawa State High Court be set aside.

“After listening to the arguments of the counsel to the parties in the suit, the Court of Appeal set aside the ruling of the Jigawa State High Court on the basis that the court lacked territorial jurisdiction to entertain the matter, which amounted to forum shopping.

“Stunned by the Appeal Court Kano’s reversal of the Jigawa State High Court ruling that empowered him to submit name of governorship candidate to INEC, Jude Okeke went to the Supreme Court on appeal.

“At the Supreme Court, Jude Okeke’s appeal was dismissed on the grounds that the purported removal of Victor Oye was not in order and that his decision to go to far away Jigawa State for an exercise that happened in South East amounts to “Forum Shopping” and abuse of the court process.

“On the clerical error purporting that it was Victor Oye that was suspended, Chief Edozie Njoku applied to the Supreme Court for a review to correct the erroneous impression that it was Oye that was suspended,” adding that on May 9 this year, the apex court affirmed the Owerri national convention, thus putting an end to the lingering leadership crisis.”

Yet, Oye does not believe Njoku obtained any court judgment. He thundered that Njoku allegedly doctored a ruling of the Supreme Court affirming him as the authentic chairman.
In a statement signed by Tex Okechukwu, the national publicity secretary of the faction loyal to Oye, the APGA boss counselled Njoku and his cohorts to be mindful of the consequences of forging a court document not more of that of Supreme Court.

“It is unbelievable that avarice, rapaciousness and covetousness is blindfolding Njoku from the felonious implications and consequences of his hangdog broadcast on Arise TV, twisting the rulings of the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“It is pertinent to assure that the Supreme Court did not sit on the 9th day of May to deliberate or review its own decision on who the national chairman of APGA is, because such matter was not before it on the said date.
“The one and only national chairman of APGA is Dr. Victor Ike Oye. APGA faithful please don’t get distracted. It is an absolute malfeasance for Njoku to act as a judge of the Supreme Court, by doctoring the Supreme Court judgment with impunity.

“It is an abuse and unacceptable aberration of court judgments, which must be investigated immediately.

“This has been his modus operandi, a consistent intrusive trajectory whenever APGA has genuine constitutional activities. This reckless libellous demeanour of Njoku and his cohorts is a challenge to the integrity of the Nigerian judiciary and the apex court.

“Njoku and his co-travellers are merely displaying a certified true copy of Supreme Court judgement of 14th day of October 2021, stamped 9th May 2022 which was just the date they obtained the certified true copy of the supreme court judgment of 14th October 2021 , which dismissed the appeal brought by one Jude Okeke against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Kano Division.

“It is pertinent to note that the Supreme Court did not at any time review its judgement of 14th day of October 2021. Njoku and co are using this tactics to exploit uninformed and ambitious but gullible aspirants running for elective positions on the platform of APGA. It is high time APGA and the judiciary investigated these excesses and bring the culprits to book.”

In view of Oye’s heavy and weighty allegation that the May 9, 2022 Supreme Court judgment was forged, Njoku called on INEC to make a categorical statement on who is the lawful national chairman of APGA. Armed with what he called “Supreme Court’s correction of the judgment of October 14, 2021”, Njoku prayed INEC, to recognize him as national chairman of APGA.

In a letter addressed to the INEC boss, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, and dated June 29, 2022, Njoku noted that “Sequel to our letter dated May 10, 2022 on the above subject matter and in furtherance to the Supreme Court correction on the judgment of October 14, 2021; I hereby attach the judgment of Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba in Suit No. SC.CV/687/2021 and Justice Mary Peter – Odili, in which important remarks have been made by the two Justices.

“Perhaps, the judgments of the Justices of the Supreme Court will guide the Commission appropriately; (a) Justice Ibrahim Mohammed Saulawa’s judgment at the Supreme Court in Page 3 Paragraph 2 states:

‘The Court has an unfettered jurisdictional competence, nay and onerous duty to undo the mischief done by a party in the abuse of judicial process, most especially in the instant case, where the 3rd Respondent reprehensibly resorted to forum shopping.

“This is to avoid an unwholesome situation whereby the court would be presented with a fait accompli. Thus, this court is cloaked with the jurisdiction to restore the parties to the position they ought to have been prior to the offending action.

“I, Edozie Njoku was the subject matter at the trial court. There are certain observations that are quite curious and have also made this matter an interesting one. It was the same court judgment which emanated from the trial court at Jigawa that the commission obeyed by recognizing Jude Okeke, as the national chairman, after he (Jude Okeke) obtained judgment of my purported suspension.

“To this effect, on August 7, 2021, the Commission recognized Chuma Umeoji as the rightful governorship candidate of APGA for the Anambra election in 2021.

“In his Judgment, Justice Lawal Garba Mohammed said, ‘With all the events happening and all the parties directly involved present in Imo State at the material time, the 3rd respondent manifestly embarked on what has now become known in our Judicial Jurisprudence as ‘forum shopping’ by going to initiate the action in the High Court of Jigawa State instead of the High Court of Imo State, where all the facts and events giving rise to the cause of action are shown to have occurred or happened’.

“Ozonkpu Victor Oye was never part of the Owerri convention which is very clear to the Election and Party Monitoring Department (EPM) of the commission.

“Delivering the lead Judgment, Justice Mary Peter – Odili reasoned that;
‘It needs be stated at this point that the dispute being who should be the acting national chairman of the 1st Respondent, APGA and whether the Chairman, Edozie Njoku was validly replaced are within the confines of the internal affairs of the 1st Respondent which is not justifiable. This makes it clear that no Court could have removed Edozie Njoku from office as it is not justifiable.

“By October 14, 2021, when the Supreme Court made the mistake of inserting Ozonkpu Victor Ike Oye’s name where Edozie Njoku’s name was meant to be, the Commission quickly acknowledged Oye, as the national chairman of APGA, immediately removing Chuma Umeoji’s name and putting in that of Prof. C. C. Soludo, notwithstanding that Ozonkpu Victor Ike Oye never participated at the Owerri Convention which has been affirmed by the Supreme Court.

“Now, the Supreme Court has corrected a fundamental error in their Judgment, which is in my favour. It is incomprehensible that the commission has refused to obey the Supreme Court judgment which has been acknowledged by the commission as an authentic judgment from the Supreme Court. What really is holding the commission from recognizing me as the authentic National Chairman of APGA?

“Mr. Chairman, when I was denied joinder at the Kano Appeal Court, in Suit No: CA/KN/146/2021 between APGA & 1 Ors and Rabiu Garba Aliyu & 2 Ors, after all the drama, the court had this to say on Page 78, I quote,
‘As I stated earlier, the disputes or causes of action between the 1st Respondent and 2nd Respondent centered on the question of the national chairman of the 1st Applicant.

“The 1st and 2nd Respondents, claimed that the national chairman had been suspended by the party which necessitated the appointment of an acting chairman and whose position was in contention (Edozie Njoku) was never joined as a party so that he could be heard at the allegation against him which led to the contest between the 1st and 2nd Respondents.’

“Mr. Chairman, we can see that the correction of the Supreme Court is a correction to a miscarriage of justice, which the Supreme Court has rectified and pronouncing me as the national chairman of APGA, owing to the dismissal of Jude Okeke’s case at Jigawa Court as forum shopping”.

Significantly, it goes to say that the affairs of APGA are not centrally administered from one coordinating unit as both men lay claim to the leadership of the party. For instance, the party has two national secretaries, two NWCs and two NECs (National Executive Committee): all dishing out different orders on the same topic.
To prove that he is the authentic chairman of the party, Njoku has written to the INEC national chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu seeking recognition as the national chairman of APGA.

Thus, while Oye calls the shot from APGA’s national secretariat at Katampe area of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Njoku operates from the Wuse II district of FCT.

Insisting that he is the national chairman of APGA recognized by law even as the party has two presidential candidate, Njoku said;
“APGA does not have two presidential candidates to my knowledge. As per the Federal High Court ruling, the executive that emerged from the convention in Owerri is the executive of APGA by law. No other executive can conduct primaries in APGA. The icing on the cake is the latest Supreme Court judgement which pronounced Chief Edozie Njoku as national chairman saying his removal is not justifiable.”

Oye disagreed with him, saying; Umeadi remains the party’s presidential candidate. According to him; “We don’t have two presidential candidates. Chekwas is not a member of APGA. We have only Peter Umeadi as our presidential candidate.”

Meanwhile, almost all the APGA chapters in the South East seem to be loyal to the Oye-led faction. A take from what the Abia State chapter of APGA said concerning the crisis engulfing the national leadership is quite revealing.

In a press conference in Umuahia, the chairman of the party in the state, Rev. Augustine Ehiemere was very emphatic when he declared that the national chairman of the party remained Victor Oye. He equally proclaimed it to high havens that the founding chairman of APGA, Chief Chekwas Okerie was no longer a member of the party.

“Okorie was expelled in 2003 for anti-party activities and embezzlement of party funds. And a few years after his expulsion, he floated the United Peoples Grand Alliance in 2012.

“Our national chairman remains Dr. Victor Ike Oye”, he enthused. Ehiemere said that it was laughable for Okorie to turn around to claim to be the party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 Presidential election.

According to him; “For record purposes, Chekwas Okorie is not a member of APGA let alone being its Presidential candidate. He has lost his political value and credibility as far as Nigerian politics is concerned.

“All his efforts now are to see how he can eke a living by joining Edozie Njoku to parade themselves as the national chairman and presidential candidate of APGA, respectively. They are both aware that their claims are false and fraudulent.”

“In Imo State, the structure of the party is in the hands of Steve Nwoga, the zone’s vice chairman, while the state chairman, John Iwuala runs APGA without any challenge – in spite of the fact that the factional national chairman, Njoku, hails from Aboh Mbaise, Imo State.

“In the just concluded APGA primary elections, all aspirants who emerged as candidates, collected as well as submitted their forms from and to Iwuala.

Also, the Anambra State structure of APGA is well in the hands of Nobert Obi and he is loyal to Oye.

In a way the APGA leadership crisis leading to the emergence of two presidential candidates, does not so much affect the activities of the party in across the states as it conducted primary elections of all the aspirants now candidates for all the positions available.

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