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Uncertainty over Ondo APC primary as court affirms Ganduje’s suspension

By Clement A. Oloyede, Saawua Terzungwe (Abuja), Tosin Tope (Akure), Salim Ibrahim & Abbas Madabo (Kano)   Some stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC)…

By Clement A. Oloyede, Saawua Terzungwe (Abuja), Tosin Tope (Akure), Salim Ibrahim & Abbas Madabo (Kano)

 

Some stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State, including some aspirants for the party’s governorship ticket, have expressed worry over the controversies surrounding the party’s national chairman, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, fearing that these could negatively affect the party’s Saturday primary election in the state.‘My elevation to Sardauna Dutse is a greater call to service’

This is coming after a Kano State High Court affirmed the suspension of Ganduje as a member of the party. The court, while granting an ex parte order, also restrained Ganduje from presiding over all affairs of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC.

The order, which was granted by Justice Usman Malam Na’abba on Tuesday, followed an ex parte motion filed by Haladu Gwanjo and Laminu Sani by their counsel, Ibrahim Sa’ad. The plaintiffs, who identified themselves as executive members of APC Ganduje ward, said they brought the motion on behalf of the executive members of the ward. The first plaintiff, Gwanjo, who identified himself as the party’s ward legal adviser, was the one that announced the suspension of Ganduje on Monday but was countered by the ward, LGA, and state executives of the party as well as the party’s National Working Committee.

Speaking to Daily Trust on Wednesday, some of the party leaders in Ondo expressed mixed reactions to the suspension and the court order. While some expressed worry over the impact it might have on the outcome of the primary, a few others expressed happiness, alleging that they felt the national chairman had already decided on supporting one of the aspirants and thus denying others a level playing field.

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One of the party leaders, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, alleged that Ganduje had been used by one of the leading aspirants to perpetrate some atrocities, including the alleged listing of non-APC members in the party’s register ahead of the primary.

“It is good news for us, especially for the majority of the aspirants, because we are aware that one of the aspirants has been reaching out to Ganduje to influence the primary in his favour,” he said.

Another party leader, who also pleaded to remain anonymous, explained that it was risky to allow Ganduje to continue overseeing the affairs of the party, especially when both Ondo and Edo State are preparing for the governorship election.

“Now that he (Ganduje) has been suspended, if he still remains as the party chairman, our party will have problems with all sorts of litigation.

“One of the aspirants has been moving up and down, boasting because he feels that he had the nod of Ganduje to have his way to power, but God knows the way he performs his wonders, and you can imagine how they will be feeling now,” he added.

 

Court order fraudulent, won’t affect Ondo primary – Party legal adviser

But reacting, the APC National Legal Adviser, Prof. Abdulkareem Abubakar Kana, described all that has happened as fraud.

Prof. Kana told Daily Trust that what happened would not affect the process or outcome of the April 20 primary election of the APC in Ondo State, adding that the poll would take place as planned.

He said, “The party is not perturbed; we are undisturbed, as you can see clearly. Do you think whatever is going on will affect our election in Ondo State? This is not a threat to the party. That someone is challenging the position of chairman cannot affect the entire activities of the party.”

Asked whether the outcome of the primary under the ‘suspended’ national chairman would be legally valid, Prof. Kana said, “This cannot affect the process or the outcome of our primary in Ondo because it’s a fraud.”

Speaking earlier during a press conference on the court order and whether the party’s NWC will give effect to it, Prof. Kana said the party was not in receipt of any communication from the court.

He said the Kano High Court order was “not enforceable,” stressing it was obtained by fraud.

He said Ganduje’s ward executives have petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) to call the High Court judge to order.

Efforts to get a comment from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), on whether he would be advising the president on the best course of legal steps following the position of the party were, however, unsuccessful as of the time of filing this report.

Meanwhile, Ganduje yesterday received the APC Ward Executives from his Ganduje Ward in Kano State, who were at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja on Wednesday to affirm their confidence in him.

Addressing the ward executives, Ganduje said those who purportedly suspended him were impostors.

In his remarks, the chairman of the APC in Gaduje Ward, Ahmed Mohammed, and the party’s chairman in Dawakin Tofa Local Government Area, Suleiman Dawanau, stressed that they were not aware of any decision to suspend Ganduje and called for a thorough probe into the matter.

 

I remain party chair, Tinubu behind me – Ganduje

Speaking earlier to party supporters in a viral video before the news of the court order went viral, Ganduje insisted that he remains the national chairman of the party.

He said that he had met with President Bola Tinubu, adding that the president guaranteed his position as the party chairman.

He said, “Yesterday (Tuesday), I met with the president, and I explained to him, and he said he was also thankful for what you did. What was done is shambolic. He said you should be patient enough. This seat they are looking up to still stands unshakeable.

“Tell the Kano State government that the seat of the National Chairman of the APC in Nigeria is for Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. We are here unshakable.”

Daily Trust reports that recently, the APC accused the Kano State government of sponsoring elements in Ganduje Ward to announce the suspension of the national chairman. However, the government swiftly denied any involvement, labelling it an “internal crisis” within the APC.

 

Seek help at Appeal Court, APC chieftain tells Ganduje

But a chieftain of the APC, Barrister Abdullahi Jalo, told Daily Trust in a telephone interview yesterday that the only way out of the situation was for Ganduje to seek help at the Appeal Court.

Jalo said Ganduje should seek for the ex parte motion to be set aside at the court of appeal.

He said, “This situation requires urgency because of the Ondo primary. They can go to the appeals court with a motion of urgency without necessarily following the entire court process.

“He (Ganduje) can say he is the national chairman of the APC, and if something is not done urgently, it will cause so much damage to the party, and the court will say let it (motion) be heard because his fundamental human right has been infringed.

“If it is heard tomorrow, it will be set aside. This has happened in many cases in the past.”

 

Non-service of charge stalls arraignment of Ganduje, family

In a related development, the planned arraignment of Ganduje and members of his family on allegations of corruption could not hold yesterday due to the inability of the Kano State government to serve the criminal charges on the defendants.

Daily Trust reports that Ganduje, his wife, Hafsat; his son, Umar Abdullahi, and six others were due to be arraigned on an eight-count charge bordering on bribery, diversion, and misappropriation of funds that include alleged $413,000 and N1.38bn in bribery.

Aside from Ganduje and family members, other parties in the suit are Jibrilla Muhammad, Lamash Properties Ltd., Safari Textiles Ltd., and Lesage General Enterprises.

The Kano State government, in the criminal suit filed against the respondents, said it has assembled 15 witnesses to testify against them.

But when the matter was called yesterday before Justice Usman Mallam Na’abba, only the 6th respondent, through his counsel, Nureini Jimoh (SAN), was present in court.

Counsel to the Kano State government, Baraka Adamu, told the court that they could not serve the respondents personally and therefore applied through an ex parte motion to serve the respondents through substituted means, but counsel to the 6th respondent, Jimoh, objected.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Justice Na’abba refused the prosecution’s motion and directed instead that the respondents be put on notice. The matter was thereafter adjourned to April 29.

Ganduje has described the trial as a witch hunt, an allegation Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf kicked against.

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