Correspondent BLESSING IBUNGE writes that the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State has faced fresh credibility huddle as former Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe led rival factions return to the war trench over control of party structure
The continuous crisis between members of the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, is an evidence that the party members may not be ready to participate at the 2023 general elections in the state.
The party which was excluded from the last general elections in 2015, leaders of the party both at the national and state level are yet to sort a better strategy in reconciling aggrieved members and move the party forward.
Presently, the party is divided into two factions in the state, the group led by Hon Igo Aguma as chairman of the party in the state, loyal to Senator Magnus Abe and the faction chaired by Isaac Abbot-Ogbobula and loyal to the Minister of Transportation, Hon Rotimi Amaechi.
Recently, the faction under the leadership of the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, claimed to have suspended the former representative of Rivers South-East at the Senate, Senator Magnus Abe, the factional Chairman of the party, Hon. Igo Aguma, Wogu Boms and the Assistant to Aguma on Media, Livingstone Wechie, for anti-party activities.
The party also stated that it has recommended all the persons aforementioned for immediate expulsion from the party based on their actions and inactions in the party.
The factional State Caretaker Committee Chairman of the party, Isaac Abbot-Ogbobula, claimed the party has expired all the members of the party who took to court without first utilising the party’s internal mechanisms.
The caretaker chairman of the party disclosed that the leaders met to discuss certain pressing issues and to clean the party of people causing the then infractions.
He said: “We met and looked at the state of the party in the state, x-rayed and reviewed some issues towards moving the party forward and cleaning up of the party and to take disciplinary measures against members of the party, who caused infractions on the party.
“We received communication from some local government areas which came to them from the ward level. One of the reports came from ward 16 in Gokana Local Government Area through the local government leadership of the party.
“We also got communications from ward 2, 10 and 19 of PhALGA. All the communications we received from the said wards came through the local government Caretaker Committees of out party”.
He noted that the caretaker committee of the party in ward 16 Gokana Local Government Area of the state suspended Abe after their meeting on Saturday, adding that the suspension was ratified by the local government leadership of the party.
Abbot-Ogbobula also claimed that Aguma and the others were suspended by the wards in Port Harcourt City LGA, PHALGA, adding that the party at the state level has also recommended the expulsion of Abe and others from the Party.
“We have confirmed Aguma’s suspension from his ward and local government and recommend his expulsion from the party
“We have also received from ward 10, PHALGA, on the suspension of Livingstone Wechie. We received from ward 19 of PHALGA of the suspension of Wogu Boms. Both of them (Wechie and Boms) were suspended by their wards, ratified by the local government and forwarded to us. We have confirmed same and further recommended their expulsion for anti-party activities.”
Abbot-Ogbobula also announced the expulsion of all the members of the party who were inaugurated as Caretaker Committees of the party in the state, LGA and ward levels by Aguma.
He noted that the leadership of the party in the state had invited all the affected persons, but regretted that they refused to honour the invitation.
Reacting, the factional Chairman of the APC, Hon. Igo Aguma, stated that Isaac Abbot-Ogbobula, and other caretaker committee loyal to Amaechi does not exist in the party.
Aguma in a statement signed by his assistant on media, Livingstone Wechie, said: “The attention of the All Progressives Congress APC in Rivers state has been drawn to comments credited to the cheerleader and chairman of an aggrieved group within the APC, Mr. Isaac Ogbobula loyal to the Transportation Minister His Excellency Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi wherein he made very disrespectful and insorbodinating remarks against his State Acting/Caretaker Committee Chairman of the APC Rivers state Rt. Hon. Igo Aguma and other critical stakeholders in the Party including Distinguished Senator Magnus Abe.
“It is no longer news that the said Isaac Ogbobula is an unrepentant impostor in the party and his action is an act of desperation and self help therefore him and his group does not exist in Rivers State.
“The public is aware that Ogbobula and his Co-travelers are litigating up to the Supreme Court struggling to upturn the Court judgement that both dissolved his illegal Caretaker Committee and declaratorily affirmed Rt. Hon. Igo Aguma as Acting/Caretaker Committee Chairman of APC in Rivers state which Executive is comprised by all statutory members of the party and he is not qualified to be one. Same judgement was reinforced in another judgement of Court which dissolved and sacked the Sokonte Davies-led illegal state structure and that judgment of was not Appealed.
“The actions today of Ogbobula are just a show of extreme desperation particularly being a supposed legal Practitioner who is in Court. It further indicates that he has no regard for judicial processes and can not wait for the Court which he approached to determine his fate. It is important to state that there is no order of Court anywhere restraining Rt. Hon. Igo Aguma from functioning as the Acting/Caretaker Committee Chairman of the party. The Appeal Court during a proceeding on or about the October 30, 2020 reaffirmed that it did not make any order restraining Rt. Hon. Igo Aguma from from functioning as the Chairman of the APC in Rivers state.
“In the meantime, we are aware that in December 19, 2020, Isaac Ogbobula was declared suspended by Ward 10 where he belongs and confirmed by his Local Government Ahoada-East Caretaker Committee and transmitted to the state Caretaker Committee which has referred his matter to the State disciplinary Committee for action. For the records, every statement or concocted declarations made by Ogbobula today in his desperation remain invalid and of no effect”.
Sequel to the spate of suspensions and counter suspensions rocking the party at the state level, the national secretariat of the party had declared as illegal and unconstitutional the purported suspension of some members of the party by the Isaac Ogbubula led faction in the state.
Head, Legal Services of the APC, Dare Oketade, in a letter addressed to Isaac Ogbubula and dated on December 23, 2020, described the suspensions as illegal, unconstitutional and a distraction to the peace initiative of the national caretaker committee.
Oketade in the letter claimed he had the authority of the National Caretaker Committee led by Governor Mai Mala Buni, to reconcile aggrieved members of the party and to accommodate all shades of interest no matter how variant it might be.
The letter reads thus: “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 provisions of the constitution of our party. Therefore the purported suspension of several persons 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 to the national leadership of the party, which is focused on the reconciliation of members and rebuilding of the party from bottom to up.
“It is upon my further instruction to advice that all media brickbats with relation to the suspension 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 effort to reconcile all warring members of the party in Rivers State”.
Similarly, same letter was also sent to Hon Igo Aguma, stopping the purported suspension of the Minister of Transportation, Hon Rotimi Amaechi, Chief Victor Giadom and some leaders of the APC loyal to Amaechi.
Chairman, National Caretaker Committee of the APC, Governor Mai Mala Buni, in a letter signed same December 23, by Dare Oketade, affirmed the Chairmanship of Abbot Ogbobula as the authentic Caretaker Committee Chairman of Rivers APC.
The letter further warned that “The party will henceforth not tolerate any acts which are calculated to disparage the leaders of the party or bring the party to ridicule for whatever motivation”.
However, a chieftain of APC, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze has hailed the party national leadership for stepping in to restoring the party’s dignity.
In his statement made available to newsman yesterday, Eze admonished that the leadership of the party is yet to make known the position of the Rivers APC on the 2021 local government elections, noting that “Aguma’s opinion merely represents his position as a meddlesome interloper and nothing more”‘ and calling on the public and party members not to fall prey the scheme.
He said party ‘faithful must be weary of being inveigled into a situation in which they find themselves suddenly becoming collaborators of wrongdoers in the pursuit of their selfish private vendetta without recourse to what is right”.
Commending Gov. Mai Buni and his National caretaker led team for the timely action, Chief Eze said “members of the Rivers APC can now celebrate Christmas and new year with settled mind and the full assurance that the scheme to plunge the party into another crisis has met its waterloo following the clarification and warning from the Party’s National Leadership”.