*Warns: All APGA candidates to suffer double jeopardy, if…
By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
The founding National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Chief Chekwas Okorie, on Monday, called on the party’s de facto leader and governor of Anambra, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, to intervene and checkmate the party’s leadership crisis.
He disclosed that the latest round of internal wrangling in APGA was allegedly hatched by disgruntled elements who were displeased by the Supreme Court’s unambiguous affirmation of the Edozie Njoku-led National Working Committee as the authentic leadership organ of the party.
Okorie, who stated these while briefing journalists in Abuja, also accused the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of beating about the bush with regards to obeying the Supreme Court judgment.
According to him, despite receiving the certified true copy of the apex Court’s decision which was delivered by Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili in the consolidated suits Nos: SC/CV/687/2021 and SC/CV/686/2021, the electoral umpire had been prevaricating to recognise the Njoku-led NWC of the party.
He explained that the Court had affirmed, as lawful and binding, the 2019 national convention of APGA held in Owerri, Imo State, which elected Chief Edozie Njoku as National Chairman and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) as officers of the Party
On the other hand, Okorie pointed out that Dr. Victor Oye had no claim to any lawful convention of the party which legitimised his emergence as the National Chairman of the Party for a second term in office.
He, therefore, cautioned that the candidature of those whose names and particulars have been submitted to INEC by Dr. Victor Oye were not sustainable and would not stand the test of judicial scrutiny.
The worried APGA chieftain, who is the party’s presidential flag-bearer vetted by the Njoku-led NWC, further warned that if the crisis was allowed by Governor Soludo to escalate, it would trump up a series of disorders that could snowball into uncomfortable and unfavourable circumstances for the party in the 2023 general elections.
“Since the tenure of Professor Chukwuma Soludo is secure, having taken the oath of office as the Governor of Anambra State on the 17th of March, 2022 and therefore protected by the relevant provisions of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended), and since he is the de facto leader of APGA, I urge him to intervene at this critical moment to save APGA from imminent peril.
“He is in the best position to rein in Dr. Victor Oye and bring him and the National Chairman, Chief Edozie Njoku to a roundtable to harmonise and regularise the nomination of APGA candidates for the 2023 general election.
“If INEC continuous to prevaricate on APGA matter and Governor Chukwuma Soludo does not intervene, all APGA candidates will suffer avoidable double jeopardy,” he stated.
While urging President Muhammadu Buhari, other relevant authorities and pro-democracy organisations to institute a process for calling INEC to order before the 2023 elections, Okorie advised that the electoral umpire should avoid being accused of aiding and abetting those hell-bent on destroying the party.
“INEC is, advertently or inadvertently, arming other rival political parties with weapons to challenge APGA victories in the 2023 general election on the ground of invalid nomination process,” he stressed.