•Party struggles to vacate ‘secret court order’
•Intrigues as aspirants resist plot to impose candidate on them
•Why Buni delayed meeting President
By Omeiza Ajayi, Johnbosco Aghbakwuru & Livinus Nwabughiogu
Indications emerged at the weekend that All Progressives Congress, APC, has taken concrete steps to vacate a court injunction seeking to stop its March 26 National Convention.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, warned back stabbers in the ruling party at the federal level to have a rethink.
Buhari is currently on medical vacation in the United Kingdom (UK) where Sunday Vanguard learnt party leaders have been briefing him on the APC tensions.
The said injunction, according to Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, was procured in November last year by those he considered as proxies of the embattled National Chairman, APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, Governor Mai Mala Buni.
El-Rufai alleged that rather than seeking to vacate the order so that the party could go on with its convention, the party’s lawyers, on the prompting of Buni, went to court and agreed with the plaintiffs.
“We got to know of a court order last year. It was obtained in November. A member of the party went to court to say there must not be a convention until his case against the party is disposed of which can take months or years and the lawyers of Buni went to court and agreed with the person and nobody knew about this order,”he alleged. (See more details on page..)
His allegations were, however, dismissed by the Buni camp which said there was no such order.
Party sources told Sunday Vanguard, at the weekend, that moves towards vacating the order had commenced. They said the legal questions must be addressed before the Convention to avoid walking into landmines.
It was recently reported that APC is confronted by more than 200 court cases at its national and state chapters.
Some are challenging the legality of party leadership at both levels.
Such a situation, if not addressed, APC sources said, may lead to a repeat of Zamfara and Rivers scenarios where the party lost out owing to court cases.
To this end, the party was said to have commenced studying the cases, with a view to vacating those that could frustrate the National Convention.
It’s all lies
The camp loyal to Buni told Sunday Vanguard, yesterday, that the allegation of procuring a court injunction is baseless.
The Secretary of CECPC, Sen John Akpanudoedehe, who said this, challenged those behind the claim to find out the true situation from the party’s legal department.
Responding to the allegation in a chat with Sunday Vanguard, Akpanudoedehe said: “It is absolutely not true because we have over 200 of such cases all over this country and also this order can be easily discharged with good intentions.
“God forbid. We didn’t do anything like that. We inherited a lot of court cases which we even reduced but this allegation is not true. You can check with the legal department and pose this same question to them. Ask them who sent them to court to procure such an injunction. It is not true.”
It was gathered that some party strategists and lawyers have spoken of the need to ascertain the validity of such an injunction.
“Some of us do not still know if any such injunction exists but, like Gov. El-Rufai said, there is an injunction. Many of our governors have said the same thing. So, we are working on getting all the details with a view to vacating it because a court injunction is a court injunction irrespective of whoever procured it. We cannot overlook it, go into the Convention and then, tomorrow, someone takes us to court for violating the injunction. By then all we have done will be thrashed. It is one of the issues that might be raised during the NEC (National Executive Committee) meeting on Thursday, if it holds”, said a party source.
Last night, President Buhari warned leaders (and membership) of the APC to desist from name-calling and backstabbing.
The President also told party leaders and faithful to remain steadfast and maintain its unity if the party is to continue in the path of victory and its dominance at all levels throughout the country.
The note of warning was disclosed via a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in Abuja.
The President told party leaders to learn lesson from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that held sway for 16 years before being dislodged at the center by the APC, adding that internal wrangling among others was the albatross that brought down the party from the high level.
“President Buhari asks the members to look at the once-powerful, “main opposition” Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) now enfeebled and adrift and learn lessons in disunity, mismanagement and corruption”, the statement said.
”They failed in 16 years in power and a failure as opposition.
”“Yes, we are entitled to our own share of dissent and intra-party discord. These are common in all parties, left and right all over the world.
”But parties splintered by competing egos destine themselves to the worst possible fate.
”As the country prepares for the long run up to the 2023 presidential election, we all expect a robust debate on the issues that matter and what is going in the APC should be a reflection of this, not the infighting we are seeing. There must be no more distractions ahead of the convention to choose new leaders.”
He recalled that the APC started out with a confidence of victory and the party today enjoys that confidence in nearly two-thirds of our 36 states.
Yet, Buhari noted, this is a party that has been in existence barely for eight years, becoming the dominant party because it has thrown open its doors to defectors from other parties, big and small.
This alone, addition to the fact ”we didn’t start on the note of arrogance of power, nor see government as a vehicle for self-aggrandizement, to be held at all costs, but a vehicle to bring development to all without discrimination-political, ethnic or regional to our dear country made this success possible.”
The party, the President went on to note, is proud of the fact that in its short period of existence, it has won two general elections decisively and despite losing a few states in 2019, it steadfastly expanded its pan-Nigerian outlook with significant defections of the opposition Governors and parliamentarians into its fold.’’
‘We haven’t sacked Akpanudoedehe’
Also, yesterday, acting National Chairman of the CECPC and Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, debunked reports that the party has sacked Akpanudoedehe from the CECPC.
The denial was contained in a statement issued in Abuja and signed by the party’s Director of Publicity, Salisu Na’inna Dambatta.
The statement reads: “Further to the media conference earlier held by the spokesman of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, Barrister Ismaeel Ahmed, the party wishes to note that the Secretary of the CECPC, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, never sent a resignation letter to the party to the best of its knowledge and neither was he sacked as some social media blogs speculated. All those are utterly false.
“The APC is one family, the caretaker is one unit. We have an acting chairman who is racing against time to deliver a convention and committee members that are united in supporting him in carrying out that onerous mandate.
“Disregard social media stories that are not rooted in facts or even sound reasoning.”
In a related development, intrigues over alleged plot to impose a former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, as a consensus national chairmanship candidate of the APC appear to have heightened following moves by some aspirants to scuttle the plan.
Irrespective of President Muhammadu Buhari’s reported endorsement of Adamu, the stakeholders were said to be pushing for the contest to be left open.
One of the aspirants, who did not want his name mentioned for fear of possible backlash by powers-that-be, said the consensus arrangement may likely destroy the party.
“The chairmanship aspirants from the North Central, the zone where the office has been allocated, are united in kicking against any form of imposition being presented as consensus
“We are all consulting with stakeholders and we are all going into the contest,” he stated.
According to him, the matter would be raised at the forthcoming NEC meeting, if eventually the meeting holds.
Similarly, Senate Chief Whip, Sen Orji Uzor Kalu, yesterday, denied that he colluded with anyone to stop the APC Convention from taking place.
He, however, said his appeal on December 15, 2021, to the party to consider postponing the exercise was to enable it resolve all internal squabbles across the country.
Kalu, in a statement made available to Sunday Vanguard described Buni as his age-long friend.
He said:”I have read the unfortunate accusations levelled against me by a former Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Dr. Salihu Lukman.
“In a statement credited to Lukman, he alleged that some party leaders are working with the Chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Mai Mala Buni. to undermine the March 26 National Convention of the party.
“He specifically noted that ‘there are other party leaders including Sen. Uzor Kalu who have actively supported His Excellency Mai Mala to undermine the decision to organise the National Convention of the party.’
“It is on this note that I consider it necessary to correct the wrong impressions Lukman must be making.
“There has been no time I participated in any collaboration or collusion to ensure that attempts to organise the APC National Convention are blocked.
“It will be recalled that on December 15, 2021, I appealed to the party and the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee members to consider postponing the National Convention earlier slated for February.’’