Gov Buni’s committee under pressure over state excos

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extra-ordinary National Convention Planning Committee is coming under massive pressure from prominent power blocs and chieftains to sack some of the state executive councils.

Governor Mai Mala Buni led committee is exercising caution in their handling the issue especially as it relates to  Rivers, Ogun, Kaduna, and the Lagos States, party sources said yesterday.

The party leaders, including governors, ministers, national assembly members, and others are seeking Buni’s prompt intervention in the affairs of some of the divided state chapters.

The committee has been inundated with petitions and complaints by aggrieved chieftains and members.

“It is something of serious concern to the chairman and his members as they do not wish to deviate from the mandate of their committee which is to reconcile the various groups and interests in the party and host a convention that will give the party a new and acceptable National Working Committee within six months,” a well- placed party source said.

“But immense pressure is daily being exerted on the committee, especially the chairman by power blocs and chieftains within the party, who want the new party leadership to intervene decisively in the matters concerning some state chapters.

“In fact, some of these people are seeking the dissolution of some state executives and the constitution of new leaderships.

“While some are brandishing court judgments to back their claims, others are alleging irregularities in the process leading to the emergence of the current executive committee in some state.

“Funny enough, some of those seeking Buni’s drastic intervention in their favour are still having cases in court contrary to the directives of both President Muhammadu Buhari and the Caretaker Committee.

“Many of them already have petitions submitted to the Chief Bisi Akande-led Reconciliation committee of the party, but are unwilling to wait for the reconciliation process to start before urging the Caretaker Committee boss to tamper with the structure in their states.”

But the Yobe State governor is said to be unflinching in his resolve to maintain the status quo in the state chapters.

Said an insider: “Buni recently told a serving Minister to respect the directive of the President concerning court cases and instruct his allies to withdraw the cases they have in court.

“Similarly, a colleague governor and a former Senator were told in clear terms that the committee will not treat any complaint from them until they get their supporters to withdraw court cases instituted against the party in their respective states.

“The Caretaker Committee is united in its decision not to do anything that will create a new crisis. Tampering with state chapters is one of such.”

One of Buni’s current headaches, it was learned, is the pressure from the factions of the party in Rivers state where Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and Senator Magnus Abe are struggling for control of the party.

A source said:” Buni is under pressure to either support a directive by the acting State caretaker chairman in Rivers state, Igo Aguma or counter it. Both parties are on his neck and a decision must be made. Aguma is believed to be loyal to the Abe faction in the state.  Up until the close of work today (Friday), no decision had been made by the Caretaker committee concerning the development in Rivers state.

Aguma has directed that all factional secretariats of the party in the state be shut immediately. He reportedly gave the directive following a situation report he sent to Buni’s committee on the activities of the APC in Rivers state.

In a statement signed by him, the state APC boss accused an ally of the Minister, Sokonte Davies, of running a splinter group in the state chapter of the APC which, according to him, is further destroying the party and threatening the reconciliation process.

He said: “the splinter group in the APC Rivers state anchored by Mr Sokonte Davies is strongly advised to immediately comply with the directive of the state Caretaker Committee of the party to shut down all factional Secretariats in the state including his own at 63 Aba Road, Port Harcourt. Sokonte is reminded along with his splinter group that their actions are not promoting peace and reconciliation efforts in the state chapter.”

“The issues of further litigations by some members of the party were raised, which actions are contrary to the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari that all court cases instituted by members of the party be withdrawn to pave the way for peace and reconciliation.

“Surprisingly, immediately after the directive by the President and further directive by the National Caretaker Committee on the same subject via a letter, we were served by Appeal Court actions by some members of the Party including those who are using the name of the Party to litigate over Rivers state chapter,” Aguma added.

Reacting to the directive, the acting Publicity Secretary of the APC in Rivers state, Ogbonna Nwuke, said Aguma cannot order the closure of the party secretariat in the state having been suspended from the party.

“Igo Aguma, having been suspended by 28 out of 38 statutory members, has lost the right to make any comments concerning the activities of the APC. We have long gone beyond such comments because the party has entered a new phase and members are thronging the party Secretariat as party activities have picked up.

“The official secretariat of the APC is the one at 63 Aba Road and that is recognized by the National Secretariat of the party, there is no other secretariat that is known to APC national Secretariat other than 63 Aba road. Our advice to Igo is for him to join the mainstream and help provide a solution to the crisis which has bedeviled the APC before now.”

Meanwhile, the Appeal Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, fixed July 16 to hear an appeal filed by former Rivers All Progressives (APC) Chairman Caretaker Committee, Isaac Ogbobula. A three-member panel of the appellate court led by Justice Stephen Adah, fixed the date for hearing in the substantive suit after the court dismissed the preliminary objection raised by Aguma.

In Ogun state, a group loyal to the former governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, is said to be lobbying the Caretaker committee to be declared the authentic state executive committee in place of the current Caretaker committee instituted by the APC NWC in 2018.

But the failure of the Derin Adebiyi faction to withdraw the case it instituted to challenge its dissolution is said to be hampering its success at getting Buni to listen to its arguments.

The NWC of the APC had in an 18 December 2018 letter with reference number APC/NHDO/GEN/24/018/26 and addressed to Chief Derin Adebiyi said: “The NWC at its 36th regular meeting of Tuesday 18 December 2018, having considered the above developments in the party in Ogun State, resolved to dissolve the entire state, local government and ward executive committees of the party with immediate effect”.

The NWC then set up a caretaker committee to replace the dissolved state executives of Ogun State.

The members of this committee are Yemi Sanusi, chairman; Ayobami Olubori, secretary, and Tunde Oladunjoye, publicity secretary. The dissolved executive committee, which has the support of Senator Amosun, however, approached the FCT High Court to challenge its dissolution. But in his ruling on the case with suit number FCT/CV/363/2018 Aderinola Adebiyi and Ors Vs APC and Ors, the presiding judge, Hon. Justice Jude O. Okeke, declared that the Originating Summons filed by the former APC Chairman and others, as incompetent and consequently set aside all the processes, including claimants’ application for interlocutory injunction.

Adebiyi challenged the decision and the case is still in court as we speak.

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