The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State reached a crescendo recently with the barrage of suspensions of top leaders of the party by the two factions of the party in the state.
The first set of party leaders to be hit were former senator representing Rivers South-East district, Senator Magnus Ngei, former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Rivers State, Wogu Boms and former House of Representatives member and chairman of one of the factions of the party, Hon. Igo Aguma.
The trio were suspended by the Isaac Abbot Ogbobula-led Caretaker Committee of the APC in the state, which is recognised by the Governor Mai Buni-led national leadership of the party.
In a swift response, the Aguma-led faction announced the suspension of the minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, former acting national chairman of the APC, Hon. Victor Giadom and Ogbobula. It is worthy to note that the same faction had earlier in the year announced the suspension of Giadom.
The current situation within the party is traced to the recent dissolution of all organs of the APC at the state, local government and ward levels across the country and subsequent appointment and Inauguration of caretaker committees to run the affairs of the party at those levels.
In Rivers State, Aguma rejected the dissolution of the organs, insisting that as a product of a judgement of a Court of competent jurisdiction, his faction was not affected by the decision of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
The former federal lawmaker went further to describe Ogbobula, who was reappointed as chairman of the party’s caretaker committee in the state as an impostor.
Addressing newsmen in Port Harcourt, Aguma said: “May I start by reiterating that to your knowledge, there was a socalled inauguration on December 13, 2020 of Local government and Ward chapters of the Amaechi Sociopolitical Group by a well known impostor Mr. Isaac Ogbobula.
“May I clearly state for the umpteenth time that the said activity and its outcomes if any, have nothing to do with the All Progressives Congress APC in Rivers State except that the perpetrators seek to blackmail, scandalize and mischievously rob themselves off on our hard earned resolve to rebuild our party in the state.
“For emphasis, they are an aggrieved group within the APC in Rivers state made up of renegades and sponsored by the self acclaimed godfather of the APC in Rivers State.
“It is no longer news that the National Executive Committee of the APC during the last NEC meeting on December 8, 2020 among other resolutions announced the dissolution of all existing structures (Elected Executives) of the Party at all levels up to the National and further directed that all such existing structures should now convert into Caretaker Committees.
“It is an incontrovertible fact that the APC has no elected structures in Rivers state at all levels apart from the State Caretaker Committee chairmaned by myself Rt. Hon. Igo Aguma and composed of all statutory members as declared by the Court and the judgement is still subsisting.
“Interestingly, there are pending Appeals up to the Supreme Court touching on the leadership of the Party in the state and non of these Appeals have reversed or set aside the subsisting Judgement of Court that declared me the Acting/Caretaker Committee Chairman of APC in Rivers state.
“You are put on notice that the desperate actions of the said Isaac Ogbobula and the Amaechi Political group cartels are only misleading the unsuspecting public and a section of the APC with their manifest penchant for self help and jungle justice,” he said.
Few days after the Ogbobula-led caretaker committee inaugurated caretaker committees for the 23 local government areas as directed by the National Caretaker Committee of the party, Aguma-led faction also inaugurated its own factional caretaker committees for the local government areas.
This development apparently led to the decision of the party to slam suspension on Aguma, Abe and Boms, as well as expelled all members of the factional caretaker committees in the 23 local government areas and wards from the party.
Announcing the suspension of the trio in Port Harcourt, the APC caretaker committee chairman in the state, Ogbobula said the approval of the suspension of the Abe and others following communication received from their various wards in Gokana and Port Harcourt City local government areas of the state
He said: “One of the decisions we took in today’s meeting was the cleaning up of the party and then to take disciplinary measures against obvious distractions against party members who had obviously impacted on the Constitution of the party.
“We received communication from some wards and local government resulting from their own meeting particularly on anti-party activities. We received communication from Ward 16 of Gokana local government area of the state, through the local government caretaker committee.
“We also received from Ward 2 of Port Harcourt City local government area, Ward 10 of Port Harcourt City local government area and Ward 19 of Port Harcourt City local government area. All these communications were received from the wards through the local government area caretaker committees earlier mentioned.
“In Ward 16 of Gokana local government area, it was resolved by members of the party in that Ward 16 that Senator Magnus Abe, having conducted himself in a manner that runs contrary to the decision of the party; that is to say, having severally engaged in anti-party activities towards disrupting the efficient organization and running of the party in the state.
“That he (Abe) be and was suspended by the Ward and it was confirmed by the Gokana local government area party members and Excos and same was sent to the state caretaker committee and in our meeting, we looked at issues raised against Senator Magnus Abe and we hereby confirm his suspension and infact, recommend his expulsion from the party,” Ogbobula said.
In a swift reaction, the Aguma-led faction, in a statement, announced the suspension of Amaechi, Giadom, Ogbobula and others from the party.
The faction, in a statement signed by Wechie said: ‘The All Progressives Congress APC held its State Executive Caretaker Committee meeting in Port Harcourt today December 21, 2020.
“The extraordinary Executive meeting was presided by Rt. Hon. Igo Aguma, the State Acting/Caretaker Committee Chairman of the Party. The meeting was well attended by Statutory/Executive members of the Party both physically and virtually and major issues were deliberated upon with the following decisions:
“The State Executive Caretaker Committee ratified the recommendation of the State Disciplinary Committee of the Party which looked into the decision of the Ward and LGA chapters to suspend His Excellency Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi of Ward 8, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State for Anti-Party activities.
“The State Executive Committee also accepted and ratified the decision of the State Disciplinary Committee to uphold the indefinite suspension of Barr Isaac Ogbobula by the Ward 10 and LGA Executive of Ahoada-East Local Government Area of Rivers State. Barr Isaac Ogbobula is hereby suspended indefinitely from APC Rivers.
“The State Chairman briefed the Executive Committee meeting that he received communication from the APC Executive of Gokana LGA to the effect that both Ward 16, Bera and the Gokana LGA chapters of the Party have expelled Chief Victor Giadom from the APC as well as a report from Emohua LGA chapter that both Ward 4 and Emohua Local Government Chapter of the party in Rivers State have suspended Senator Chief Andrew Uchendu from the APC.
“The Executive Committee referred both reports from Emohua and Gokana Local Government Areas on Chief Victor Giadom and Senator Andrew Uchendu to the State Disciplinary Committee for further action in line with Article 21 of APC Constitution.”
Reacting to the decision of the Aguma-led faction, spokesman of the APC in the state, Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke, warned that it would no longer tolerate acts of destabilisation.
Nwuke, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt, most Rivers people were pleased with the decision of the party to recommend the expulsion of recalcitrant members.
Nwuke said: “The State Secretariat acted on the request of aggrieved party members across the State who have been worried by the actions of hired agents that are determined to encourage the destabilization of our great party.
“We laud the leaders of our party right from the grassroots to the state level for seizing the opportunity to cut off the necks of hydra-headed snakes that have been spewing poison and hurting our members.
“We had hoped that initiating a peace process through the able collaboration of Senators Andrew Uchendu and Wilson Ake would clear the path for understanding and cooperation. It is evident that the gesture by our members on all sides to hunt for peace was largely misconstrued.”
The APC spokesman noted that the party has all along obtained credible intelligence which shows that those who have been recommended for expulsion have become merchants sponsored from outside to sell ideas that are alien to the idealogy and spirit enunciated by the party constitution.
He said: “How can we fold our hands and watch ants that are eating up grains stacked up in our barn without taking steps to prevent such occurence? How can we tolerate acts of lawlessness in our midst because few persons with ambitions feel that their desire is greater than the interests of a great majority of party members?
“’Let it be known that the APC will no longer tolerate acts of indiscipline and destabilization. From now on, we will cleanse the Augean stable. The will of the National Secretariat of our great Party must be respected.
‘No one comes to the nest of an eagle to say the eagle is blind. It doesn’t happen. Those who do so pay a great price.
“That is what is happening to Senator Magnus Abe, Hon Igo Aguma and their co-travellers who time and time again, refused mediation and collaboration in order to promote hate and instability within the party.
“The courts did not say Igo Aguma should remain in office in perpetuity. The pronouncement of the Port Harcourt High Court was clear. Aguma did not obey the ruling of the Court that installed him. He did not collaborate with statutory members as he was directed to do. Those who come to equity must do so with clean hands.
“This is why the contempt charge brought against statutory members who acted in defence of party interests was struck out by the same court that he approached,” he said.
Apparently worried at the festival of suspensions and it’s possible negative effect on the image of the party at the national level, the national leadership of the APC has nullified all actions taken in that regard by factional elements in the state.
Those whose suspensions were nullified include Senator Magnus Abe, Hon. Igo Aguma, Wogu Boms and Livingstone Wechie.
Head, Legal Services at the APC National Secretariat, Dare Oketade Esq. had in a letter dated December 23, 2020 and addressed to Hon. Igo Aguma announced the nullification of the suspension of Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, Senator Andrew Uchendu and Victor Giadom.
In another letter dated December 23, 2020 and addressed to the Isaac Abbot Ogobula-led State Caretaker Committee Chairman, the party’s national leadership faulted the earlier suspension of Abe and others, warning the state Caretaker Committee to stick to its mandate of reconciling all aggrieved tendencies.
The letter reads in part: “The Party has noted with concern the spate of suspensions and counter suspensions within the Rivers State Chapter of our Party.
“I have been directed by the National Chairman, H.E. Governor Mai Mala Buni to remind you of your core mandate as the State Caretaker Committee Chairman in Rivers State which is to reconcile all persons and accommodate all shades of interests no matter how variant they may be.
“The National Secretariat of the Party has reviewed the purported suspension of several members of the Party in Rivers State as having not been in accordance with the procedures as set out by the Constitution of our Party views.
“Therefore the purported suspension of several Party members including Senator Magnus Abe, who is a revered leader of the Party in Rivers State is not in accordance with the provisions of the Party’s Constitution and a distraction on the National leadership of the Party, which is focused on the reconciliation of members of the Party and rebuilding of the Party from bottom up.
“It is upon my further instruction to advise that all media brickbats with relation to the suspensions and counter suspensions be suspended forthwith and efforts be taken to assist the South-South Reconciliation Committee headed by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun in its efforts to reconcile all warring members of the Party in Rivers State.
“While thanking you for your anticipated cooperation with the Party in the on-going reconciliation efforts, please accept the assurance of the regards of the National Chairman of our great party,” he said.
Evidently the crisis in the party is far from over as the power play is just beginning.