Intrigues, tussle over APDA leadership

The Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) has been embroiled in leadership tussle, culminating in litigation over the party’s ‘soul’.  SAMINU IBRAHIM reports

lectoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the political landscape was awashed with report of an impending mega party- Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA). Pundits had claimed it was at the embryonic stage and would give the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) a good run for their money.

Additional report alleged that it would be a congregation of aggrieved members of the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Hence, the nation was kept in suspense and in eager expectation of the birth of the mega party.

The curiosity was further heightened by the intra-party squabbles in the PDP, and at some point it was believed that the Senator Ahmed Makarfi group may move their structure into APDA if the Ali Modu Sheriff group eventually triumph at the Supreme court. Without mincing words, APDA, was then considered as the plan ‘B’ for the PDP.

Little wonder, a chieftain of the PDP, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, alongside other stalwarts declared their membership for the newly formed APDA when INEC made public the registration of additional five parties for the country.

INEC gave the names of the parties as; Young Progressive Party (YPP), Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA), New Generation Party of Nigeria (NGP), All Democratic Peoples’ Movement (ADPM) and Action Democratic Party (ADP).

But the litmus test for APDA came shortly after the nation’s apex court in July ruled in favour of Makarfi and sacked the former Borno state governor, Sheriff who had held sway as the party’s national chairman. His faction in the view of many was an extended part of the ruling APC.

Shortly after the victory at the Supreme Court by the Makarfi group, where Dokpesi allegedly belong, news filtered that the party’s national chairman, Alhaji Mohammed Shittu and his National Working Committee (NWC) have been removed from office by the former (Dopkesi).

Specifically, on Tuesday August 8, Shittu and Dokpesi camps engaged in a media war. The two camps openly disagreed over the ownership of the party which led into suspension and counter-suspension by the warring factions.

Chief Raymond Dokpesi-led Board of Trustees (BoT), which met in Abuja announced the sack of the Mohammed Shittu-led Interim National Working Committee (NWC).  Obviously, the two factions were laying claim to the leadership of the Party.

The Dokpesi faction alleged that the tenure of the NWC members had expired since June 14 this year in line with the party’s constitution. Those appointed as new executive members of the party, are Mainasa Ilo, National Chairman; Chief Dan Nwanyanwu, Chairman Board of Trustee; and Mr Amobi Nwosu, National Secretary; while Mr Ide Felix Equabor is the National Publicity.

Swiftly, Ilo, later at a press conference said the sacked NWC ought to have organized a proper meeting to either extend its tenure or elect new officers in line with the APDA constitution at the expiration of its tenure, which he said they failed to do.

Ilo said “the meeting also resolved to partake fully in the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State while the meeting also approved the relocation of the party’s national secretariat to another spacious location in Abuja”.

According to him, APDA with the appointment of new NWC members would now be repositioned towards membership drive nationwide for it to contest and win in future elections.

In a counter move, the Shittu-led NWC also said Dokpesi and his loyalists have been sacked for holding illegal BoT meeting.

A statement, APDA National Secretary, Dr. Emeka Okengwu, said the NWC has announced the suspension of Dokpesi, Dan Nwanyanwu and Mainasara Ilo  “for holding illegal National Executive Council meeting sacking the National Working Committee of the party.”

According to the statement, Dokpesi on July 15, wrote a letter to INEC, which he signed as BoT chairman. “In their desperation move to factionalize the party and move to PDP they went ahead to make this announcement constituting an illegal Board of Trustee and sacking of National Working Committee.

“Due to the indiscipline of these members, the NWC met at an emergency meeting today and suspended them and constituted a disciplinary committee to sanction them for bringing disrepute to the party.

“We want to appeal to the general public to disregard the announcement because they are agent of PDP trying to destroy the emerging alternative party that will give Nigerians a better life,” the statement added.

It is instructive to note that Dokpesi and Shittu had earlier wrote conflicting letters to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), concerning the proposed board meeting.

Hence, the electoral body, in a letter by the acting Secretary, John Irem, dated July 31 advised the party to call for meetings of its various organs to resolve the crisis.

In the middle of the intrigues, APDA faulted the claim by the media mogul, Chief Raymond Dokpesi of being the founder and financier of the party. A statement signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Tosin Adeyanju,  urged Dokpesi to make available in the public domain, the cost he incurred in founding the party.

But Eguabor explained that contrary to the statement suspending Dokpesi and his group, the letters appointing the interim national chairman, national secretary and other members of the NWC stated explicitly that their appointments would be for three months.

Irked with the suspension order and statements credited to Shittu, Dokpesi on August 17 approached an Abuja high court seeking the court’s pronouncement that he founded the party and merely appointed Shittu as the national chairman, and Emeka Okengwu, Secretary.

The judge, Justice Yusuf Halilu, while delivering judgment on the matter on Thursday September 14 stated that based on facts before the court, the defendants had assumed office as interim officers of APDA before the purported appointment letter.

The judge stated that while filing INEC’s form PA1 for registration, the column for BoT was left blank and pointed out that if Dokpesi had been the party’s BoT chairman the column would not have been left blank.

“It is clear that High Chief Dokpesi has acted in violation of the party’s Constitution, all such acts carried out are hereby set aside,” Halilu stated.

“The first (Shittu) and second defendants (Okengwu) remain the only national officers and those elected under their supervision,” he added.

Significantly, but whether Dokpesi would appeal the judgment of the Abuja high court over the APDA leadership tussle could however not be determined at the time of filing this report.

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