*He can’t preside over our party affairs any longer – Salihu
*Secretariat staffers celebrate court order
By Ezeocha Nzeh
Following the court order yesterday suspending the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), disclosed that it will for the first time next week meet to brainstorm on the way forward for the embattled ruling party without the embattled chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
An FCT High Court, sitting at Jabi, had on Wednesday, ordered a temporary suspension of Oshiomhole pending the determination of a substantive suit filed against him.
Justice Danlami Senchi in the ruling directed that Oshiomhole should remain out of office and should also not be allowed into the party secretariat.
The order followed an interlocutory application filed by six plaintiffs, led by the Naional Vice Chairman, North-East, Alhaji Mustapha Salihu, through Barr. Oluwole Afolabi.
They had among other reliefs, urged the court to remove Oshiomhole from office, alleging that he had been suspended as a member of the party at his Etsako ward 10, in Edo State.
The plaintiffs in the application dated January 16, prayed the court to enforce Oshiomhole’s suspension, because having failed to challenge the suspension, it had remained extant, and his rights as a member of the party is currently abated, hence he should not continue to remain as the APC national chairman.
The plaintiffs also contended that it would be a legal infraction for Oshiomhole to continue to enjoy benefits from the APC in view of his suspension as a member of the party.
Ruling, Justice Senchi, held that the 2nd Respondent (APC), wrongfully retained Oshiomhole as its national chairman in view of the affidavit evidence before the court.
Consequently, he ordered that Oshiomhole should stop parading himself as APC national chairman, and further directed the party to stop acknowledging Oshiomhole as the chairman and not be granted access to the party’s secretariat.
Justice Senchi, who fixed the April 7 for hearing of the substantive matter, warned that political parties must be guided by their constitution, adding that since Oshiomhole had been suspended in his ward, and the suspension not challenged, he had no business any longer parading himself as national chairman of the party.
In his arguments, Comrade Oshiomhole had through Damian Dodo (SAN), challenged the competence of the suit, arguing that it constituted an abuse of court process.
He also queried the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter, maintaining that the plaintiffs lacked the locus standi to seek such reliefs against him.
*Oshiomhole can’t preside over APC affairs any longer – Salihu
Meanwhile, the party’s National Vice-Chairman, North-West, Alhaji Mustapha Salihu, has backed the court order, saying Oshiomhole’s days in the party is over.
Salihu who led the group that initiated the court action has been having a brawl with Oshiomhole over the choice of Arch. Waziri Bulama, as the party’s National Secretary.
He told journalists on Wednesday that Oshiomhole was to create more chaos in the party by foisting Bulama on the party’s NWC as the acting head.
According to him, “immediately the court injunction was given, the national chairman called the party’s National Publicity Secretary to issue a statement that Bulama is the acting national secretary to the party. “I believe you people (Journalists) are aware of the meeting held about a month ago on that matter, which ended without a decision. Since then, there has not been a decision on the replacement of the secretary.
“The public should know that any decision that Oshiomhole makes henceforth is illegal and will not hold. For now, he cannot preside over the affairs of the party again. We will keep our fingers crossed until the court decides otherwise”.
Asked whether he would accept the choice of Bulama as the national secretary should the party take that position, he said; “the party cannot accept Bulama”, insisting that the person to hold the position must be the most senior person in the party.
*Embattled chairman meets with loyal party members in his Abuja private residence
Meanwhile, few hours after the suspension, The AUTHORITY gathered that the embattled Oshiomhole met with some members of the party’s NWC in his private office at Aso Drive, Abuja.
It was further gathered that while the meeting was on-going, the acting National Secretary, Victor Geidom and the National Vice-Chairman, North-East, Mustapha Salihu, hurriedly convened a counter meeting at the party’s national secretariat at Blantyre Street, Wuse 2, Abuja, where they were joined by the National Women Leader, Hajia Salamatu Bawai, and the National Vice-Chairman, North-Central.
Briefing journalists Gaidom assured that the party will obey all the orders of the court.
Asked if the party is currently sourcing Oshiomhole’s replacement he said: “ That’s not within my powers, but like I said, there’s a court injunction and it is binding on us as a party to respect all the court injunction.
From the APC constitution, apart from the National Chairman, the APC has two Deputy National Chairmen (North and South). However, the two offices are now vacant.
While the Deputy National Chairman (South), Otunba Niyi Adebayo is now the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, the Deputy National Chairman (North), Sen. Lawali Shuaibu, was placed on indefinite suspension.
Similarly, the party is yet to fill the position of the National Secretary since the election of the former occupant, Maiu Mala Buni as the Governor of Yobe State. Waziri Bulama, who is Oshiomhole’s preferred successor to Buni, is yet to get the overall approval from his North-East zone, due to a running battle with his Zonal Chairman, Comrade Salihu Mustapha.
Also, the National Vice-Chairman (North-West), Barr. Inuwa Abdulkadir, is also on indefinite suspension, while the National Auditor, Chief George Moghalu, is the Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), leaving the APC-NWC reasonably depleted.
*APC staff celebrates court order
Few hours after the interim injunction became public, the Blantyre Street national secretariat of the party became electrified as the APC staff members, as well as some other party members erupted in huge celebration over the suspension of Oshiomhole.
They gathered in groups rejoicing and congratulating each other over the development.
Some of them that spoke on the condition of anonymity, advised that oshiomhole to eat the humble pie and bow out honourably.
They claimed that the party had suffered severe setbacks because of the crisis in the party.