Factions of APC in states refuse to withdraw court cases against party

Factions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in some state chapters have said they won’t withdraw their pending cases in court, noting that the President’s directive that suits against the party be withdrawn was only advisory and not by fiat.
Some of the court cases border on the legality of the Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee. This is in spite of the court ruling that vacated an order restraining the party from holding its convention.

In Zamfara State, the Publicity Secretary of the faction loyal to Senator Kabiru Mafara, Bello Bakyasuwa, said they had seven pending cases against the party in court. He however maintained that they would not withdraw the cases.

Bakyasuwa told Saturday PUNCH in a telephone interview, “We will not withdraw our cases no matter what happens because we are seriously offended. We must seek redress in court. We are challenging the legality of Governor Mai Mala Buni’s extraordinary committee and we are also challenging him for nullifying our membership cards as bona fide members of the party.

“We are also challenging the party for not recognising our parallel congress that we conducted here in the state among other cases. We did all we could to draw the attention of the party regarding our predicament but nobody was ready to listen to us. As such, we are left with no option but to run to court to seek redress and I don’t think there is anything we can do about it. It is too late.”

In Gombe State, the Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Moses Kyari, said out of three suits instituted against the party, two were ongoing while one had been struck out for lack of locus standi.

He added, “The issues are hinged on the congresses. The constitution of the party doesn’t allow members to take the party to court; the penalty is expulsion from the party. The people that have taken the party to court have since left the party. It was intended to cause mischief and confusion in the party.”

Commenting on the possibility of the suits hampering the party’s convention, Kyari said the date chosen would not change, stressing that suits were based on congresses where stakeholders agreed on consensus.

He added, “Lawyers have been employed to ensure the injunctions are vacated, sure it will be. As a party, we followed due process in agreeing to the consensus congresses in Gombe State and it was at the wards, local governments and the state.”

In Osun State, the Publicity Secretary of the faction backed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said the only matter instituted in court related to the National Convention was the one the group instituted against the ward congress in the state.

He said since the caretaker committee recognised the faction loyal to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, which excludes them from the convention, a case was filed at the Federal High Court in Osogbo but that the court declined jurisdiction. He said the matter had been appealed but the court had yet to hear the appeal.

Speaking on the President’s directive, Agboola said, “We are going ahead with our case. We have yet to receive the directive you mentioned from either the President or the APC national leadership. We are going to pursue our case to a logical conclusion.”

In Abia State, the party’s Publicity Secretary, Mike Ozoemena, said the factions had three cases against each other; one at the High Court and two at the Appeal Court. However, he said, “There is always room for reconciliation.”

In Ekiti State, the Secretary of the state’s APC Stakeholders’ Forum, Femi Adeleye, said aggrieved party members in the state did not withdraw their case in court because the party leadership did not call the aggrieved members as recommended by the President.

Although the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti Division last week struck out the case, Adeleye said the aggrieved members would decide on whether or not to appeal the case.

In Rivers State, the party is still divided over issues of litigation. While the spokesman for the Rotimi Amaechi-led APC, Mr Chris Fynebone, said the party did not have any known case in court, a chairman of the party loyal to Senator Magnus Abe, Golden Chioma, said some aggrieved party members were still in court.

In Kano State, the case between the factions loyal to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and that of Senator Ibrahim Shekarau is still pending at the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, in Kwara State, the faction loyal to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said it had no case pending in court against the national leadership of the party.

The Publicity Secretary of the faction, Mr Ibrahim Sharafadeen, said they had decided to quit the party but they had yet to join another party.

Also, the Publicity Secretary of the faction loyal to Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, Alhaji Folaranmi Aro, said there was no pending case against the party in the state.

In Akwa Ibom State, a party chieftain and Chairman of the Elders Forum of the party in the state, Grp Capt. Sam Ewang (retd.), said there was no case in court.

In Ogun State, the faction loyal to former governor Ibikunle Amosun has withdrawn the court case instituted against the party following the President’s directive. The faction led by Derin Adebiyi had gone to court to challenge its sacking by the party leadership.

In Benue State, the factional leader of the party in Benue State, Omale Omale, on Friday described the directive of the President as an admonition. Saturday PUNCH learnt that there were about seven cases in court in the state, ranging from ward to local government and state levels.

He added, “Everybody is a stakeholder in their own right and such people have made contributions to the growth and advancement of the party and where they are vexed they are expected to express their displeasure and where they do legitimately you should be concerned as a party and should be desirous of pacifying them. As far as I know, nobody is talking to anybody.”

Meanwhile, a Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Kubwa on Friday vacated an interlocutory injunction earlier granted stopping the APC from holding its National Convention.

A member of the ruling party, Mallam Salisu Umoru, had dragged the party, the Chairman Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni, and the Independent National Electoral Commission before the court to challenge the planned March 26, 2022 national convention.

On November 18, Justice Bello Kawu granted the interim order stopping the convention.

But on Friday, the judge vacated the interlocutory order following the defence counsel, Shuaibu Aruwa, SAN’s application for the court to set it aside.

Kawu vacated the order relying on the recent Supreme Court decision which held that a party member does not have the right to take the party to court.

He however adjourned the case until March 30 for hearing the substantive suit.

Aruwa had moved a motion seeking the setting aside of the interlocutory order and striking out the suit on want of jurisdiction.

He said the application was supported by a five-paragraph affidavit and a written address and adopted all the processes, praying the court to grant them in the interest of justice.

The defence counsel added that the claimant counsel, Mike Enaharo-Ebah did not file any process to counter his application.

In response, Enaharo-Ebah said Aruwa served him on March 11 and his seven days had not elapsed adding that his right to respond in line with the rules of the court had been shut out.

He however asked the court to reconsider an application to adjourn in order for him to file counter affidavits.

In his response, Aruwa said he served the claimant since March 9 through the former claimant counsel, F.O. Ekpa adding that the seven days elapsed on March 16.

Earlier, Enaharo-Ebah moved a motion dated March 10 pursuant to order 43 rule 1 of the rules of the court, seeking an order of the court setting aside the hearing notices of parties of this suit seeking abridgement of time of March 15 against March 30 for hearing.

“The second prayer is an order of the court setting aside every step taken by the APC and Buni for the fixing of March 26 for its convention. Third is setting aside every committee inaugurated by the APC and the report of such committees including any notice of purported notice of INEC.

“The application is supported by a five paragraph affidavit and one exhibit attached, which is the order of the court made on Nov. 18, 2021 restraining APC from proceeding with its convention pending the determination of the suit, ” he said.

Enaharo-Ebah said he filed a written address dated March 10 and rely on it as his argument, urging the court to grant his application.

In response Aruwa said he filed a five paragraph counter affidavit and relied on all the paragraphs attached is a letter written by APC and Buni, communicating the former claimant counsel and himself.

He said they agreed that their application would be taken either on March 14 or March 15 and was endorsed by the former counsel.

“The application for review of the date is not strange; it was agreed between me and the former counsel,” Aruwa said.

The counsel for INEC, Alhassan Umar (SAN), aligned himself to Aruwa’s submission and referred the court to order 43 Rule 8 of the rules of the court adding that the change of date was based on terms agreed by parties.

In another development, Buni on Friday, met with the committee’s Secretary, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, dispelling the rumour that the latter had been sacked.

The meeting was held a few hours after some youths within the party protested the alleged ‘sack’ of Akpanudoedehe.

The youths, under the aegis of Progressives Youth Movement, at a press briefing in Abuja, warned the party leaders against bringing up issues that they said could cause confusion before the national convention of the party next week.

Members of the APC CECPC had passed a vote of no confidence in Akpanudoedehe.”

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