Factions of the All Progressives Congress in several states that are loyal to some ministers and senators are set to lose out as the APC has perfected plans to inaugurate state chairmen loyal to the governors at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja on Thursday (today).
Some of the losers include the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; and the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Others who lost out include former Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Senator Kabiru Marafa and a former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’Aziz Yari’.
Several state chapters had been divided into factions due to the controversial congresses conducted late last year. However, the national leadership of the party is now set to inaugurate chairmen who are loyal to the governors except in Kano State.
The PUNCH learnt that the chairmen from at least 30 states had already arrived in Abuja ahead of their inauguration.
One of our correspondents who visited the party headquarters on Blantyre Street, Wuse 2, Abuja, reported heavy police presence around the secretariat. The arrangement, it was learnt, was put in place to prevent any breakdown of law and order especially if aggrieved elements stage protests.
Some of the states witnessing crises include Osun, Ogun, Kwara, Kebbi, Kano, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bauchi and Zamfara. In some of these states, factions have gone to court, seeking to be recognised as the authentic one.
However, Wednesday began on a dramatic note as Aregbesola, who had been engaged in a feud with his successor, Gboyega Oyetola, lost out. A Federal High Court in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, refused to recognise Aregbesola’s faction as the authentic one.
Justice Emmanuel Ayoola dismissed an application brought before it by Aregbesola’s loyalists, citing a lack of jurisdiction. The Judge ruled that the plaintiffs’ application was not covered by the law and could not be adjudicated by any competent court of law. Ayoola said the suit brought before the court was strictly party affairs, and the court lacked jurisdiction on the matter.
When contacted, the chairman of Aregbesola’s faction in Osun APC, Alhaji Rasaq Salinsile, said it was not clear yet who would be inaugurated by the national leadership as Osun state APC chairman.
Speaking with The PUNCH on Wednesday, Salinsile simply said, “As it is not clear to you, it is not clear to us who will be inaugurated. But let’s keep our fingers crossed.”
But when contacted, the Special Adviser to the Osun governor on Political Affairs, Sunday Akere, said there was no contention about the post of chairman of APC in the state, adding that the Prince Gboyega Famoodun would be inaugurated by the national leadership of APC.
“No contention about who is the chairman of APC in the state. Prince Gboyega Famoodun will be inaugurated by the national leadership of the party,” Akere said.
I have been invited for inauguration, I am in Abuja – Governor Abdulrazaq’s faction factional chair.
In Kwara State, the faction loyal to Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, was invited for the inauguration.
Prince Sunday Fagbemi, who heads the governor’s faction, said he had been invited for Thursday (today’s) inauguration of party chairmen by the national caretaker committee of the party.
Fagbemi told The PUNCH in a telephone conversation on Wednesday that he was already in Abuja ahead of the inauguration and that the state chapter of APC was fully invited for the inauguration ceremony. “I’m already in Abuja for the swearing in of the APC chairmen that will hold on Thursday”
I am not aware of inauguration – Chairman, Lai Mohammed’s faction
However, the faction loyal to Lai Mohammed said that it was not aware of the inauguration.
Chief Sunday Oyebiyi, the Deputy Chairman elected by the faction at the APC Congress said, “We don’t know whether anything is being done by the national caretaker committee of APC in Abuja. We were not informed and we were not invited.”
Abiodun’s loyalist to be inaugurated
In Ogun State where Governor Dapo Abiodun and his predecessor, Senator Amosun, control two separate factions, the APC headquarters seems to have recognised Abiodun’s loyalist, Chief Yemi Sanusi.
When Sanusi was asked if he was confident of being inaugurated as the chairman of the party in the state, Sanusi just said “you cannot talk to me now. I just landed in Abuja, till tomorrow.”
Several attempts to speak to the faction loyal to a former governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, also failed. The factional chairman, Derin Adebiyi, could not be reached as of the time of filing this report.
Marafa faction kicks as APC recognises Matawalle faction
In Zamfara State where three factions are currently operating, The PUNCH learnt that the APC would inaugurate the faction loyal to Governor Bello Matawalle.
While the faction led by Senator Kabiru Marafa kicked against the development, former Governor Abdul’Aziz Yari’s faction did not respond to calls.
The Zamfara State APC Publicity Secretary of the governor’s faction, Yusuf Idris, told The PUNCH that they were the only faction invited by the national headquarters of the party for the inauguration.
We are already in Abuja for inauguration – Matawalle faction
Idris said, “We are already in Abuja for the inauguration as invited by the national headquarters of our great party, the APC”.
“I have been telling people that we have no faction in Zamfara state as both former Governor Yari and Senator Kabiru Marafa have been saying.
“Their factions are not recognised by the national headquarters because they were not registered members of the party. They refused to revalidate their membership cards as directed by the national headquarters, as such, they have no business in the APC.”
In his reaction, the Publicity Secretary of Senator Marafa’s faction, Bello Bakyasuwa said, the Matawalle APC faction was only wasting its time.
Bakyasuwa said the Marafa’s faction did not go to Abuja for the inauguration because the case they filed against the national headquarters of the party was still in court.
“We didn’t go to Abuja because of our pending court’s case which will be heard on February 17. But I am telling you, that any faction of our party that goes to Abuja for the inauguration is violating the court’s order because we have been directed by the court to maintain the status-quo”.
Efforts to speak with executive members of the Yari faction proved abortive as both the factional chairman, Lawal Liman and the Publicity Secretary, Ibrahim Magaji, did not pick their calls after several attempts.
In Bauchi State, the national headquarters of the party recognises the faction led by the President’s ally and Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu. This implies that the faction led by the Ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Tugar; has lost out.
When contacted, the Spokesman for the Adamu-led faction, Adamu Jalla, said that the elected chairman and secretary of the APC in the state would be inaugurated.
“Yes, there will be an inauguration on Thursday (today) in Abuja for the Chairman (Babayo Misau) and secretary.” When asked further questions, he hung up the call.
The Chairman of the faction loyal to Amb Tugar, Mr Sanusi Kunde, however, kicked against the action of the national leadership of the APC, insisting that the matter was still in court.
“The party executives in any state which has a case in court will not be inaugurated until such issues are first resolved,” he stated.
The winner of the state chairman of the APC in Benue State, Austin Agada, is one of the state chairmen to be inaugurated today by the party in Abuja.
The State Organising Secretary elect and Party Publicity Secretary, James Orgunga told our correspondent on the phone that Austin Agada, who is backed by the Minister of Special Duties, Senator George Akume, had been invited to Abuja for today’s inauguration.
It was learnt that while Akume was supporting Agada, a former Deputy Governor, Steven Lawani, is backing the other faction.
Asked about the pending court case restraining the party from inaugurating the chairman-elect, Austin Agada, and two others, Orgunga debunked the restraining order, saying that what the court said on Monday when the case came up for hearing was that it would be given accelerated hearing.
“What the judge said on Monday when the case held is that the suit will be given accelerated hearing, so the chairman elect, Austin Agada will be sworn in on Thursday, in fact I am just arriving Abuja for the inauguration,” Orgunga said.
Inauguration will be contempt of court – Benue rival faction
When contacted, the factional leader, Omale Omale, confirmed that the court at its hearing on Monday submitted that it would give the case accelerated hearing and adjourned till February 3 to consider the motion on stay of execution until the matter is determined.
Omale said, “Regrettably, the court which should have done that (pronounce stay of execution) before now has not but we are also fortified by the position of the law which says that when a party is aware of a tendency of a suit and does any other things to destroy the rest, the court frowns at it, it comes heavily on them.
“The APC is aware of the pendency of this suit we filed on January 18 and the same day our lawyer wrote to them notice of a tendency of a suit and a motion for stay of execution and the APC has entered appearance and filled paper and joined issue with us and adjourned till tomorrow (today) .
“So if they (APC) go ahead to do anything to destroy the rest that will make it impracticable for the court to pronounce on a motion before it, the court will not be happy and as a lawyer we know what to do by taking options open to us, such as contempt.”
APC to inaugurate Omo-Agege faction
In Delta State where Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege and Keyamo have been engaged in a supremacy battle, it was learnt that the Omens Sobotie, the chairman loyal to Omo-Agege would be recognised by the APC.
When contacted, Sotobie said, “Why not wait till tomorrow. I have no comment, tomorrow is the D day.”
Also, former Delta North Secretary, Mr. Victor Sorokwu, who is a member of Omo-Agege’s faction, said that there was only one congress in the state.
He stated, “There was only one congress in Delta, the other faction boycotted both state and LGA congresses resulting from perceived grievance emanating from the ward congress.
“They went to court and but the national body went ahead and conducted both the LGA and state congress and winners emerged, there is no court order stopping the swearing in of the executive, then will you now ask the national body not to inaugurate the state chairman-elect?”
Keyamo group to storm Abuja
But the faction led by Keyamo has concluded plans to storm the venue of the inauguration to demand that its own chairman be recognised.
When contacted on the telephone, the Deputy Chairman of the Keyamo-led faction, Mr. Evils Ayomanor, said, “Please we are in serious meeting now, I can speak” But a source inside the faction confided in our correspondent that the faction is seriously meeting and has concluded plan to storm to the venue of the tomorrow inauguration.
Confusion over Kano APC factions
In Kano, there was confusion as it was learnt on good authority that the national secretariat was insisting on recognising and inaugurating members of the APC loyal to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
When contacted to confirm whether the national secretariat invited the Senator Ibrahim Shekarau-led faction to Abuja for the inauguration, the Chairman, Alhaji Haruna Danzago, said although he was in Abuja but could not give me an update on the ongoing reconciliation process or inauguration.
Also, when contacted, the Kano State Commissioner for Information and spokesman man of the State Government, Mallam Muhammed Garba, who is also in Abuja, promised to call back to give an update on the current situation but has not at the time of filing this report.
Aregbesola’s faction heads for appeal as court strikes out suit
In a related development, Justice Nathaniel Ayo-Emmanuel of an Osogbo Federal High Court on Wednesday declined jurisdiction in the suit filed by the 2, 517 aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress against the last ward congress of the party in Osun state.
Ayo-Emmanuel in the ruling, which lasted about one hour, 30 minutes, held that issues relating to congresses remained domestic affairs of political parties which court could not adjudicate upon. He, therefore, struck out the matter.
Claimants belonging to a faction of the party enjoying the backing of the Ministry of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, had approached the court, through their lawyer, Mahmud Adesina SAN, alleging they were unjustly deprived right to participate in the July 31, 2021 ward congress of the party.
They claimed that they fulfilled all conditions to participate in the court but were deprived. They therefore sought nullification of the exercise.
Joined as respondents in the matter were the National Secretariat of the APC; the Chairman of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Committee of the APC, Governor Mai Mala Buni; the Chairman of the Ward Congress Committee, Gbenga Elegbeleye, Chairman of Ward Congress Appeal Committee in the state, Ambassador Obed Wadzani; the state chapter of the party and the Independent Electoral Commission.
But counsel to the APC caretaker chairman, Dr Mubaraq Adekilekun, in his grounds for objection to the suit, said the claimants could not sue his client, due to immunity that he enjoyed as a serving governor.
Adekilekun also questioned the jurisdiction of the court to hear and determine the matter being an internal issue of the political party.
Responding to the APC and Buni’s preliminary objections, Adesina insisted that the court had jurisdiction to entertain the matter since it had to do with noncompliance with the guidelines for ward congress of the party.
According to him, respondents did not comply with the APC guidelines on the ward congress, saying the party foisted consensus option on many p members, despite the fact that people obtained forms to contest for party positions.
He also said officers produced in the ward congress did not obtain forms to contest party offices, thus they were not eligible to participate in the congress initially.
But in another preliminary objection against the substantive suit, counsel to INEC, Muydeen Adeoye argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Adeoye, who relied on provisions of Section 251 of the 1999 constitution as amended and 87(9)of the electoral Act 2010 as amended, said the court could not on adjudicate on the matter which the law has outright forbidden it.
But Adesina in a counter-affidavit filed against INEC’s preliminary objection urged the court to reject the electoral body’s submission and give its verdict. Giving his ruling on the preliminary objections filed by the respondents, Justice Ayo-Emmanuel said the matters involved in the suit basically revolved around the internal affairs of a political party.
He said the Supreme Court already held that the court must not interfere with the internal issue of the party unless it falls under Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act and he subsequently struck out the matter for lack of jurisdiction.
When contacted for reaction, Lani Baderinwa, who is the secretary of the faction supported by Aregbesola, said that the group would appeal the judgement.
Meanwhile, The PUNCH learnt on Wednesday that the APC had yet to inform the Independent National Electoral Commission of its planned convention slated for February 26.
The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, told The PUNCH on Wednesday that the ruling party had yet to notify the commission.