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RE: APGA: Limits of INEC’s hide and seek

By  Benji I. Duru

THE viewpoints of one Mr. Amaechi Nwokenife on the recent resolution of the APGA leadership crises by INEC in favour of Chief Chekwas Okorie as National Chairman of APGA and published in the Vanguard Newspaper of June 3, 2009 at Page 19 definitely is designed by the author to attract quality reasoning and logic from the APGA high command, social advocates and political researchers.

It is believed that Mr. Nwokenife is not a consultant to INEC on the provisions of the constitution of political parties registered with INEC. It is assumed that this gentleman is a friend of APGA and that he believes in due process, constitutionalism and political sanity in the polity.

It is most likely that he has not read the APGA constitution. In a breath, Mr. Nwokenife linked INEC to his theory of regime interest and state interest and lashed out at INEC for not manufacturing a free and fair supplementary governorship election in Ekiti State, Nigeria recently.

The senior citizen accused both Prof. Maurice Iwu and INEC of embarking on servile mission for the ruling establishment to contrive another political crisis in the country; this time in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

Mr. Nwokenife raised other legal and constitutional issues so that if such issues are well explained, they shall be of research interest towards a better understanding of the latest technical and administrative clarification of the true position of the leadership status in APGA by INEC.

The Constitution of APGA, together with the Electoral Act 2006, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, various judgments and ruling on APGA leadership crisis from 2005 to 2009, had been consulted, including the Supreme Court of Nigeria judgment under Suit No. 60/2007 and delivered on the 29th February, 2008 and which now can be cited as an authority.

However, there is only one essential material that can say “Yes” or “No” to any position of any person, institution, court, INEC, Chief Chekwas Okorie (National Chairman of APGA), all members of APGA and even the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, regarding APGA. That material is the constitution of APGA registered with INEC.

INEC does not have political thugs who snatch ballot boxes at gun-point; it does not bribe gullible voters, it would not function as mischievous party agents; INEC is not in control of the security agents whose presence may at times intimidate voters. INEC is definitely in the minority when it comes to voting and counting of votes.

The judiciary is always on the side of the genuine votes cast. Fifty registered political parties in Nigeria normally present one or two trusted agents to ensure that no political party is rigged out during voting and collation of votes. INEC will not open illegal bank account for any political party or forge its sensitive materials, including INEC stamps for special interest.

The above points are vices that are sponsored and encouraged by desperate politicians and not INEC. In so far that human beings work in INEC, however the Commission shall not be liable for more than 10 per cent of the poor electoral environment before and after elections.

Therefore, Mr. Nwokenife has a duty in this regard to be part of the vanguard for the building of genuine and better electoral environment in Nigeria.

At no time has Chief Chekwas Okorie, National Chairman of APGA, not been recognised by the APGA constitution as the Founder and Chairman of the Party. There is no court judgment or order in which INEC is a party to the suit anywhere that has been stayed by INEC.

INEC simply consulted widely on the matter of APGA constitution and corrected itself this time around by doing a recourse on the APGA constitution as an umpire and this produced the decision to clarify on the misinterpretations of the APGA authentic leadership in the interest of Justice and the public.

INEC generally derived its power to clarify the situation on APGA leadership from the Electoral Act of 2006, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the APGA Constitution and the Mechanics of Political Jurisprudence. Thereto all these are solidly in support of Chief Chekwas Okorie as APGA National Chairman.

Mr. Nwokenife’s question  invites the court to resolve any outstanding issues. This appears to be an academic exercise insofar that INEC had completely withdrawn the very erroneous and temporary recognition it accorded to Chief Victor Umeh in 2005. The purported temporary recognition, even though unconstitutional had since expired about four years ago.

One of his questions has no strength because Chief Victor Umeh had never been Chairman of APGA constitutionally. The purported court judgment on the said expulsion of Chief Chekwas Okorie has been appealed. INEC has said that its clarification on APGA leadership is without prejudice to any issue or issues still pending in court.

The recent move by Chief Victor to purport to send Prof. Iwu and Chief Steve Osemeka to jail for contempt of a nonexistent court order and for doing their lawful duty as agents of a public organisation or institution has just been demolished through judicial engineering. People must learn to always attend or comment on issues without relying on biased perceptions as in the Mr. Nwokenife’s analysis in the referenced Vanguard Newspapers.

Another of his questions  is a hangover of bias because Chief  Umeh had never been a candidate for the office of National Chairman of APGA and there is no pending court case anywhere that will result in his being declared National Chairman of APGA.

It is such misinformation as contained in Mr. Nwokenife’s analysis on APGA that prompted the recent INEC well-accepted clarification on the APGA leadership.

Under Mr. Nwokenife’s Question (f), the reality is that any claim to the National Chairmanship of APGA by any other person other than the authentic Chairman, Chief  Okorie, can never sustain because the relevant provisions of the APGA constitution and the INEC recourse to the constitution of APGA and the fact that no valid convention of APGA had been held to change the leadership of the Party since after Chief Chekwas Okorie was inaugurated as National Chairman of APGA in December, 2002 are on the side of the Party and Chief Okorie as the current National Chairman of APGA.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court of Nigeria is ever ready to deal and dispose of any matter that may be brought before the Hon. Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Again there is no court or APGA record anywhere that shall manufacture any other National Chairman of APGA to change the Chief Chekwas Okorie Leadership of APGA except through a valid APGA National Convention which may not even change the leadership.

Chief  Duru, APGA’s Dep. Nat. Chairman(South), writes from Abuja.

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