The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) took a new twist yesterday as a High Court in Rivers State ordered the party’s erstwhile deputy national secretary, Chief Victor Giadom, to stop parading himself as acting national chairman.
The court headed by Justice Florence Fiberesima also granted an exparte order restraining Giadom from parading himself as a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC.
This is coming just as the Senator Abiola Ajimobi-led NWC of the party yesterday declared that there was no vacuum in the party leadership.
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had on Thursday renewed the order empowering Giadom, a deputy national secretary of the party, to act as APC national chairman for two weeks.
Hours after the Court of Appeal in Abuja affirmed Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s suspension from the party last Tuesday, Giadom declared himself as acting APC national chairman.
But less than 24 hours after the Abuja court empowered Giadom to serve as chair of the party, two APC stalwarts in Rivers State, Dele Moses and Azunda Awori, through their counsel, FC Nwafor, filed an application seeking an order restraining Giadom from parading himself as either acting national chairman or deputy national secretary of the party.
They insisted that Giadom had resigned his position as a member of the NWC of the APC to contest the 2019 election as deputy governor on the platform of the party.
Joined in the suit were the APC and the caretaker committee chairman of the party in the state, Hon Igo Aguma.
In the application, the plaintiffs prayed the court for: “A declaration that sequel to the resignation of the 3rd defendant (Hon Victor Giadom) as Deputy National Secretary of the 1st Defendant (APC) in 2018, for the purposes of contesting in the 2019 general election as Deputy Governor of Rivers State, the 3rd defendant is no longer the Deputy National Secretary of the 1st Defendant.
“A declaration that the 3rd Defendant (Hon Victor Giadom) is not a member of the National Working Committee ( NWC) of the 1st Defendant having resigned his membership of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the 1st Defendant for purposes of contesting in the 2019 general election as the Deputy Governor of Rivers State.
“A declaration that the resignation of the 3rd Defendant (Hon Victor Giadom) as the Deputy National Secretary of the 1st Defendant in 2018 is valid and effective from 2018 till date.
“A declaration that the 3rd Defendant (Hon Victor Giadom) is not the National Chairman, or Acting National Chairman, or Deputy National Secretary or otherwise howsoever a member of the National Working Committee of the 1st Defendant.
“An order restraining the 3rd Defendant (Hon Victor Giadom) from issuing, signing or endorsing any document or correspondence to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) or any other body or institution in the capacity of the National Chairman or Acting National Chairman of the 1st Defendant or howsoever as an officer of the 1st Defendant.
An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Defendants from recognizing or regarding the 3rd Defendant as either a member of the National Working Committee (NWC), the Deputy National Secretary, National Chairman or Acting National Chairman of the 1st Defendant.”
No Leadership Vacuum In Party – NWC
In reaction to the court order stopping Giadom, the Ajimobi-led NWC insisted that there is no leadership vacuum to fill as far as the national leadership of the party was concerned.
The NWC stressed that there was no vacancy to fill on the said March 16, 2020 as the deputy chairman (South), Senator Abiola Ajimobi, had already assumed the role of acting national chairman.
National publicity secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a statement yesterday explained that none of the four defendants named on the said process were served with the originating processes in the suit, adding that as a result, the party became aware of the existence of such an order on June 17, 2020 through its circulation on social media.
He said, “The attention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been drawn to an Exparte Order allegedly granted in favor of Victor Giadom in suit no: FCT/HC/M/6447/2020. A cursory look at the said Order will reveal that it was granted on March 16, 2020 to fill a purportedly vacant office of National Chairman ahead of a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting which turned out to have been convened in contravention of the APC Constitution.
“To begin with, Justice Liman of the Federal High Court had on March 13, 2020, in the case of Hon. Tunde balogun V All Progressives Congress (suit no. FHC/L/CS/414/2020 affirmed the appointment of Sen. Abiola Ajimobi as Acting Deputy National Chairman (South) by the APC National Working Committee (NWC) and directed as follows;
“That an Order of Interim Injunction is granted restraining the defendant either by itself or its servants, agents, privies, assigns, officers or officials or otherwise howsoever from ignoring or refusing to recognize Waziri Bulama as Ag National Secretary, Senator Abiola Ajimobi as Ag Deputy National Chairman (South) and Paul Chukwuma as Ag National Auditor of the Defendant pending the determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction herein.”
Onilu stated that in furtherance of the above and complying with Article 14.2 (iii) of the APC Constitution, Ajimobi assumed the position of acting National Chairman on March 13, 2020, noting that Article 14.2 (iii) provides: “The Deputy National Chairman shall act as National Chairman in the absence of the National Chairman from his zone”.
According to him, there was no vacancy to fill on the said March 16, 2020 as Sen. Ajimobi had already assumed the role of acting national chairman.
He further noted that more instructively, the said order by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory was also made after the Court of Appeal had already granted an Interim Stay of Execution of the Order of the High Court suspending the National Chairman. In Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole & Anor V Comrade Mustapha Saliu & ors (CA/A/187/2020) the Court of Appeal held thus.
Issa-Onilu said that an order of stay of execution of the ruling of the FCT High court in suit No: FCT/HC/CV/837/2020 delivered on March 4, 2020 was granted pending the determination of the motion on notice which is now slated for hearing on 20th of March, 2020
He stressed further that an order of injunction was granted restraining the respondents themselves, their agents, privies and/or officers jointly or severally from proceeding to take any further steps to give effect to the said ruling.
The party noted that the Court of Appeal is a higher court in the hierarchy of courts and without prejudice to Ajimobi’s role as acting national chairman, by its decision and the operation of law, there was indeed no vacancy to fill necessitating the said order.
He explained further that it was the same exparte order of March 16, 2020 granted in the face of the pending orders of both the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal that is being alleged by Giadom to be extended by the FCT High Court.
Issa-Onilu added that the said exparte order was granted pursuant to the High Court of the FCT Civil Procedure Rules 2018. Order 43 Rules 3 (2) and (3) of thereof provides:
Obaseki, Deputy Join PDP, Get Waiver To Contest Primary, Picks Nomination Form
Meanwhile, Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his deputy formally joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday in Benin, the Edo State capital, where he was issued the party’s membership card by the state party chairman, Dr Anthony Aziegbemi.
The brief ceremony which lasted for about 30 minutes took place at the party’s state secretariat located along First East Circular Road, Benin.
The governor was accompanied to the venue by his supporters.
Speaking at the event, Obaseki described the PDP as a party that believes in justice and fairness.
He said, “I am here this afternoon to inform you that following my resignation from the All Progressives Congress, I have now decided, having consulted very widely, within the state and across the country, to become a member of PDP.
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in my view, has demonstrated and has shown that it is a party that is routed in democratic practices, the party that believes in justice and fairness. Today, I’m here to go through the formalities of registering as a member of this great party.
“I know, I understand fully well the implications of this decision. I know that upon taking on the membership of the great party, I now automatically become the leader of the party in the state; that is the Constitution.
“I want to assure all of you that I’m prepared to provide leadership that will lead this party to victory, I’m prepared to provide the leadership that will put PDP in the office in Edo state. As the ruling party in Edo state, I will make sure that the level of progress, the level of participation in the political system by our people will be unrivaled.
“I am very happy with the reception that I’ve received since I got in here. This is the kind of energy I require to the level we should go to next. If you think we have done it in the last four years, you haven’t seen anything yet, because, with the quality of the people I’ve seen here, the quality of the people who are running this party, the energy of the youth I see, by the grace of God who makes today possible, I am committing to you that I will not only lift the party to victory on Edo state, but will now make sure that this party is an example of how states should be run in Africa.
“Today, it is with great pleasure that I have come to formally take my membership card of this great party”.
Responding, the PDP state chairman, Aziegbemi, described Obaseki as the newest member of the PDP in the state.
He said, “Let me welcome the newest member of PDP in Edo state, His Excellency, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki.
“Let me say this unequivocally, as he has rightly said, the leader of the party in Edo state is the Governor of the state, so that we are all on the same page in this.
“Your Excellency, just know, that as the leader of the party in the state, we look up to you for direction, for what you want us to do and we are ready to to follow you.”
After the event in Benin, the governor moved to Abuja where he met with the national leadership of the party and purchased the PDP governorship nomination and expression of interest forms.
Obaseki met the NWC at the party’s legacy House campaign office in Maitama, Abuja.
Welcoming the governor, national chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, charged Obaseki to see his entry into the PDP as an act of God and that should guide his attitude in the party.
Secondus told the governor that he would soon realize that he did not make a mistake in his decision as PDP is a party of “responsible people who respect and appreciate intellect and work by the rules and constitution of the party.
“There is nothing to be arrogant about power for anyone who knows God and here in PDP we are guided by this fact”, he added.
Prince Secondus said that as a party that is guided by rules, the application came from his ward in Edo State and was recommended and endorsed by the other various organs of the party in the state.
A statement from the national chairman’s media office said he told the Governor that by the waiver he and his deputy can vote and be voted for in the party.
In his remarks after receiving the waiver, Governor Obaseki thanked God for providing him the opportunity of today saying that he is happy to have made this decision.
He said that since he made his contact with the party he has realized the difference, adding that he met true democrats with positive disposition and cohesion who listens and tries to understand you.
The PDP national leadership gave waiver to Obaseki just as it shifted its Primary to Thursday June 25.
According to the national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, the action of the NWC is pursuant to Section 29(2)(b) of the PDP constitution and in exercise of the powers of the National Executive Committee (NEC) under Section (50)(3)(b) of the PDP constitution.
He said, “The NWC in exercise of the above powers has ratified the application for waiver by the ward, local government and state executives of the party in Edo state and accordingly grants waiver to His Excellency Governor Godwin Obaseki to enable him contest the gubernatorial primary of the PDP
“Also the NWC has further shifted the Edo state governorship primary from an earlier slated date of Tuesday, June 23 to a new date of Thursday June 25, 2020.
“The shift is again predicated on exigencies of party activities”.
Obaseki is expected to face the party’s screening committee today.
Also, former vice president and presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2019 elections, Atiku Abubakar has congratulated Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State for joining the PDP.
Atiku in a press statement by his media office yesterday welcomed Governor Obaseki to the PDP, which he called a truly people’s party.
The former vice president expressed confidence that the people of Edo State will be the better for his choice.
The PDP presidential candidate in the 2019 elections noted that Governor Obaseki was joining the PDP when the party is poised to deliver good governance to the people of Nigeria.
On his party, former Senate president, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who welcomed Obaseki to the PDP however urged stakeholders to abide by the terms of agreement.
In a statement issued in Abuja, Saraki noted that the bigger commendation and appreciation should go to the leaders of the Edo State chapter of the PDP at the various levels for the sense of sacrifice, patriotism and devotion to the progress of the party demonstrated by them in the process of welcoming Obaseki into its fold.
“I also thank Obaseki’s colleagues, the PDP governors, for their role and for ensuring that while bringing him into the party, they carried along the local chapter and refrain from just unilaterally taking decisions without the input of the leaders of the party in Edo State. The process our Governors adopted in working with the local chapter to bring in the Governor is a better approach than the system in many of the other parties where the National Working Committee (NWC) would simply just give him a membership card”, he added.
Obaseki’s Defection, No Longer News – APC
However, the leadership of the APC has reacted to the official defection of Edo State governor to PDP, saying the governor joining the opposition party was no longer news.
When contacted on phone for reaction on the development, national publicity secretary of APC, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said Obaseki’s defection to PDP did not come as a surprise.
“It has not come to us as a surprise. We knew he had defected long ago because he resigned his membership of the party which we have accepted. So you can’t defect twice. So if he is defecting again, we don’t know whether what he has just done now is news any longer,”