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.
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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.’’
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SANWO-OLU PRESENTS SCORECARD AT RE-ELECTION RALLY
…APC Flags Off Governorship Campaign In Lagos
A mammoth crowd of Lagos State residents, on Saturday, converged on Onikan – a cultured neighbourhood in the heart of Lagos Island – for an All Progressives Congress (APC) rally.
Clad in branded yellow shirts and Ankara brocade, the crowd dominated the city centre with pockets of political carnival. Thousands of ordinary citizens and party stalwarts trooped to Mobolaji Johnson Pavilion, the venue of the inaugural rally flagging off the party’s governorship campaign in Lagos.
The 10,000-capacity stadium brimmed with APC supporters. They carried banners and chanted slogans to receive the party chieftains and members of the Governorship Campaign Council.
APC standard bearer, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, made a grand entry into the venue, animating the crowd, which chorused: “Greater Lagos Rising” – the Governor’s re-election campaign slogan.
Reacting to the massive turnout, Sanwo-Olu said the vast attendance further confirmed the strength of APC as the only party of choice in Lagos.
The Governor mounted the rostrum to seek the mandate of Lagosians for another term in office, saying the “Greater Lagos” he promised at the inception of his government could now be visualised, given the achievements recorded during his first term.
Sanwo-Olu said the last three and half years had been challenging for his administration, pointing out that his Government traversed difficult terrains to deliver on its development objectives.
He said: “It has been an interesting and challenging journey for us in the last three and half years. Our administration has traversed difficult terrains and witnessed major disruption occasioned by global pandemic. Lagos had its fair share in the attendant socio-economic meltdown, but we provided strong leadership that protected the people and made the State come out better and stronger.
“Now, we can say ‘Greater Lagos Rising’ because our State is rising on all of our modest achievements through the THEMES agenda. In Transportation and Traffic Management, Lagosians are now living with the reality of the delivery of two intracity Rail Mass Transit projects that are on the verge of completion. These projects will be handed over in the coming weeks.
“We have also scaled up infrastructure in public transportation services by improving BRT services, injecting new taxi scheme and energizing traffic management agency for efficiency. People have seen the construction and commission of Lekki Deep Seaport, and massive road construction projects in the Eti Osa and Epe corridors. We have delivered and are still constructing more new roads in Ikorodu, Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Alimosho, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Somolu and other areas.”
Sanwo-Olu said activities of his administration, since inception, had been about purposeful governance. He added that his Government had delivered new hospitals in Badagry, Epe, and Eti-Osa, pointing out that construction of new hospitals were currently being undertaken in Ikorodu, Ojo and Lagos Island.
In the environment, the Governor said the State was currently constructing 210 new drainage channels to address the issue of flooding in vulnerable communities. He said his Government had also raised the level of infrastructure in emergency response agencies, mentioning the recently completed four fire stations, recruitment of new fire fighters and provision of fire fighting equipment.
The Governor said: “Lagosians can testify to our feats in education. Over 1,000 new classrooms have been added to public schools and we completed over 1,097 projects in schools. We trained our teachers in modern teaching techniques through Eko EXCEL and handed over tablets to them for teaching. Overall performance of Lagos students in WAEC has improved from 42 per cent to over 83 per cent.”
Sanwo-Olu said there had been laudable progress recorded across his Government’s development blueprint, noting that the State had become a model for good governance and development.
The Governor thanked residents for standing by his administration, pledging that he would not take their support for granted.
He urged party members to take back the Government’s achievements back to their communities and engage in door-to-door campaign to ensure APC candidates are elected in the general elections.
Director General of Lagos APC Campaign Council, Sen. Ganiyu Solomon, said the party would have no problem taking its campaign to the electorate, given the “exceptional” performance of the party’s governorship candidate.
Solomon said the second coming of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat would bring the State to new heights of development and prosperity.
Leader of the Governance Advisory Council (GAC), Prince Tajudeen Olusi, said: “The combination of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat are the best a democratic society can get in delivering results of good governance. Anyone who wants the development of Lagos to continue, Sanwo-Olu must be allowed to continue the good work he started.”
Sanwo-Olu, assisted by APC chairman, Hon. Cornelius Ojelabi, presented flags to party candidates running for legislative seats in the House of Assembly and National Assembly.
Osun Tribunal Admits Adeleke’s Certificates as Exhibits
— As Oyetola, APC Close Case
The Osun State Election Petition Tribunal on Saturday admitted in evidence the file with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) containing the secondary school certificate and testimonial of Governor Ademola Adeleke of the State.
This is just as the Petitioners, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola and the All Progressives Congress (APC), closed the prosecution of the matter, leaving respondents to state their defence.
The admission of the documents followed the appearance of INEC representative, Mrs. Joan Arabs, who brought Adeleke’s original files containing the certificate he submitted to the Commission in 2018.
It will be recalled that during the last sitting of the panel, the Commission had submitted blank document as the secondary school certificate of the governor, a situation that compelled the panel to order that the original file be brought, and to threaten to invoke Coercive Power if it fails to do so.
At the resumed hearing of the petition on Saturday, Counsel for Oyetola, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said the hearing for the day was basically meant for the appearance of INEC representative to produce the Adeleke’s file in line with the court order.
Counsel for INEC, in his response, said that INEC representative was already in court with the files containing a clearer and legible certificate and testimonial in question, saying he would be willing to apply for the return of the documents to INEC, when the tribunal is done looking at it.
After the production of the documents, the tribunal, while discharging the INEC official, said, “You can now go if you wish to. No policeman will accost you again.”
Subsequently, Oyetola’s counsel sought to tender the documents which contain form CFO01 and its attachments, including Adeleke’s credentials, saying the original file brought to court is a primary evidence and he was comfortable with it.
Counsel for INEC, Chief Henry Agunedo (SAN), said he would be objecting to the admissibility of the documents on the ground that the basis for the production of the whole file was because only two pages of the earlier-produced Certified True Copies were in contention, saying tendering the whole documents was out of place.
Counsel for Adeleke and PDP, Niyi Owolade and Alex Izinyon (SAN) respectively, said they have objection to the tendering of the said documents, but they would reserve their objections till final address stage.
Izinyon also observed that the only documents in contention were only two pages which are Adeleke’s certificate and testimonial, saying the CTC earlier produced has not been tendered before the court.
Responding, Fagbemi said the practice everywhere is that INEC can only apply and get back the files after the dispensation of the cases, saying, “We asked for CTC and now that they brought this. We are fine, we will take it”.
Ruling on the documents tendered, the tribunal led by Tertsea Kume admitted the credentials and the Adeleke’s nomination form as exhibit ‘FILE D’ and taken as read.
It was after the tribunal admitted the documents that Fagbemi informed the panel that he had decided to close his case, saying, “My Lord, we rest our case”.
When the tribunal asked INEC to open his defence, Chief Agunedo said, it would be difficult for him to open his case on Monday, saying non-availability of his witnesses would make it practically impossible.
The panel then asked the counsel to meet and agree on adjournment date after which Counsel for INEC briefed the panel the outcome of the meeting.
Subsequently, the tribunal adjourned the case till December 20 for the respondents to open their defence, saying the adjournment was based on another engagement by the tribunal somewhere else between 12th and 19th December 2022.
Earlier, Oyetola’s counsel had informed the panel that the Court of Appeal in Abuja had reverted the judgement of a Federal High Court which disqualified Oyetola from contesting the election.
Meanwhile, the outcome of the sitting excited the members of the APC who witnessed the hearing, as jubilations erupted after the sitting of the panel. They chanted songs to eulogise Oyetola and the APC.
TINUBU WON’T SUCCUMB TO ARISE NEWS BLACKMAIL
We find it shocking and downright anomalous that Arise News continues to broadcast the participation of All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in its Presidential Town Hall meeting scheduled to hold on 4 December, 2022 despite our earlier statement that our candidate will not be available.
We noticed that Arise News has also been running a campaign on the so-called constitutional duty of the presidential candidates to participate in its debate by dubiously citing section 22 of the Constitution of Nigeria on the obligation of the Mass Media.
While it is trite that the media has clear constitutional duty to hold public office holders accountable to the citizens and its role as the watchdog of the society, there is no part of the Constitution and the section 22 that says a presidential candidate of any political party and least of all, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu must participate in Arise News Town Hall event or any media organised event at all.
The same Constitution grants all citizens of Nigeria including, Asiwaju Tinubu the right and freedom of choice and association. The APC Presidential candidate has a right to decide where he goes and events to participate in as he seeks the mandate of Nigerians to be elected as the next President of our country.
We want to make it abundantly clear again that Asiwaju Tinubu will not participate and will not attend the Arise News Town Hall meeting slated for Sunday, 4 December, 2022 and any other ones it may plan before the February 2023 presidential election.
The APC Presidential candidate has his own schedule of campaign activities and other engagements within and outside Nigeria. One of such events is his scheduled event for Monday , December 5, 2022 at Chatham House in London where he will speak on Security, Economy and Foreign Policy.
Asiwaju Tinubu travelled to United Kingdom early today (Saturday) for this earlier scheduled engagement. We want to reiterate for the umpteenth time that no amount of blackmail, intimidation and media bully and innuendos by the owner and management of Arise News will change the position our campaign has taken on this matter.
Director, Media & Publicity
APC Presidential Campaign Council
December 3, 2022
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