A new chapter has been opened in the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) following last week’s Supreme Court judgement which favoured the faction of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
The apex court recognised Isaac Ogbobula as the caretaker committee chairman of the party in the state. The development, to pundits, seems to have brought to an end the protracted political feud between Senator Magnus Abe and Amaechi.
- Pinnick elected member of FIFA Executive Council
- FG, World Bank hand over refurbished LG secretariat to Adamawa
The court dismissed an appeal brought before it by Igo Aguma challenging the Court of Appeal’s decision which upturned the state High Court’s judgement that declared him as the acting Chairman of APC in Rivers State.
Aguma is a strong supporter of Abe and has enjoyed the support of the former senator who represented Rivers South East throughout his reign as the acting chairman of the party.
In its unanimous judgment, a five-man panel of the apex court upheld the December 29, 2020, judgment of the Court of Appeal which set aside an earlier judgment of the High Court of Rivers State.
Shortly after the verdict, Aguma resigned his membership of the APC in the state.
Aguma in a press statement he signed in Port Harcourt said he had received the Supreme Court judgement which dismissed his appeal challenging the Court of Appeal’s decision which upturned the High Court judgment that declared him as acting Chairman of APC in Rivers State.
He stated that, “It is now clear that it is not within the purview of the court to protect the rights and privileges of members of a political party, in this case, the APC. It is the APC that should protect the rights of her members but has failed to do so.
“I cannot continue to be a member of a political party that endangers and does not give any form of protection to the rights of its members and has no respect whatsoever for its own constitution at all.
“Therefore, I announce my exit from the All Progressives Congress immediately. To God be the glory.”
The Supreme Court verdict and Aguma’s resignation from the party have laid to rest the political feud between Amaechi and Abe, as well as the protracted crisis over who calls the shots in the Rivers State chapter of APC.
Abe accepts ruling in good fate
Senator Abe seems to have received the apex court’s verdict in good fate and has since moved on.
The former lawmaker shortly after the court ruling declared that the crisis that engulfed the party was not about the party structure but against injustice meted on members and impunity by the leadership.
Addressing APC stakeholders in Port Harcourt, Abe said as law-abiding citizens of Nigeria, members of the party had accepted the outcome of the ruling of the Supreme Court, but pointed out that the main issues were yet to be resolved.
He said, “On Friday, March 05, 2021, the Supreme Court of Nigeria handed down a series of judgments on the lingering crisis in the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“The content of their judgments held that the matters should not have been litigated in the first place, but ought to have been resolved by the leadership of the party; political parties being voluntary associations.
“It is important for Nigerians and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), to remember, well and truly that the crisis that engulfed the party was not about party structure which was actually not in dispute.
“It was rather about the treatment meted out to party members who felt betrayed when the very reason for which they voluntarily joined the party in pursuit of justice, fairness and respect for their rights were dismissed with impunity by the leadership.
“Party members who paid monies for forms were not only denied their rights to participate in the congresses contrary to the constitution of the party but were tear-gassed and summarily excluded from all party activities and denied every privilege of membership.
“Indeed, the millions of naira collected from the party members for the forms which were never issued to them after collecting their monies remain with the party till this day.
“It was this exclusion and treatment that led to the emergence of alternative structures within the party.
“The battle to establish their rights and have the APC to acknowledge its wrongdoing led to the crises and to the courts. The party, as all of us know, paid dearly, almost fatally, for this indiscretion. The rest as they say is history.
“In the coming days and weeks, we will carefully watch the statements, actions and utterances of the party as it is the resolution of these issues that will bring lasting peace to the party and restore its standing, not only among its members, but also in the eyes of the justice-loving Nigerian public, especially Rivers men and women.
“It is clear that there are other political options to achieving our desires.
“We congratulate Barrister Ogbobula and his team and advise all our members with conflicting claims to any alternative structures within the APC in the state to immediately drop all such claims and all alternate party offices in the name of APC across the state should revert to private use.”
The senator thanked members of the party who had been resolute in their demand for justice, fairness and internal democracy within the party, urging them to remain united and open-minded.
Both Amaechi and Abe have been engrossed in a bitter political feud over who calls the shots in the administrative structure of the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State.
The two political gladiators had once enjoyed good political relationship; having helped each other in time of need. Senator Abe is one of the politicians in the state that stood behind Amaechi throughout his political travails in his quest to become the governor of the state on the platform of PDP. Throughout the legal battles that eventually saw Amaechi reclaiming his mandate as the governor of the oil-rich state, Abe and so many others were there for him.
The love lost between the two prominent politicians started in 2018 when the duo could not resolve their differences that arose from the ward and state congresses of the party.
Abe was aggrieved that many of his supporters who obtained forms were disenfranchised during the congresses to elect the party’s flag bearers for all the elected positions. Their irreconcilable differences ended up in a protracted legal battle that denied the party’s candidates participation in the governorship, national and state assembly elections in 2019. Their political differences polarised their political base and pitched their supporters against one another. The two politicians have on several occasions set up parallel leaderships and factions of the party in the state with each group issuing directives from its end.
While Amaechi uses Isaac Ogbobula to run his own faction of the party, Abe on the other hand pitched tent with Aguma to pilot the affairs of his own faction. Aguma was one of the strong supporters of Amaechi until he pitched tent with Abe over what he described as injustices in the party. Aguma had been calling the shots in the leadership of the party in the state based on the guise of a court verdict which handed over the party structures to him.