Press Conference Addressed By The All Progressives Grand Alliance National Chairman Chief Maxi Okwu At Hotel De Bently, Utako, Abuja On Friday, March 14 2014.
Gentlemen of the Press,
You are all aware of the leadership disagreement that engulfed our great party,All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) since 15th December 2004, when our then National Treasurer Chief Victor Umehconspired with other Officers of the party and suspended Chief ChekwasOkorie, then National Chairman and the late AlhajiHassan Bello, the Deputy National Chairman (North) of the party. This unconstitutional action triggered over 20 suits that lasted till March 2012 when Chief ChekwasOkorie returned the APGA certificate of registration in his possession to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Not satisfied with Chief Victor Umeh’sone-man-show leadership, APGA stakeholders across the country and in the Diaspora demanded a national convention that would pave way for restructuring the party to play its crucial role as the third leg in the nation’s political tripod. It was during this soul searching and strong determination to restructure, reposition, rebrand and reengineer APGA that the stakeholders and National Caucus of the party approached me as the pioneer DeputyNational Chairman (South) of the party from July 2002 to October 2005, to return to the fold and work in collaboration with other APGA faithful in rebuilding our great party. In the National Caucus meeting of the party held at Chelsea Hotel Abuja in February 2013, I was elected the interim National Chairman while other National Officerswere returned unopposed.
The new leadership swung into action with three-R policy of reconciliation, rapprochement and reintegration of aggrieved APGA members that left the party due to the inept leadership for our erstwhile Chairman. On 8th April2013, the party held its national convention at the Women Development Centre Awka, Anambra state, where I was elected National Chairman along with other officers of the party. The convention was duly monitored by INEC. Later on that 8th April, the Court of Appeal Enugu Division granted our former national chairman’s application for stay of execution of the judgment of the Enugu High Court that removed him from office. On 15th July 2013, the appellate court delivered judgment in his favour in a matter between VictorUmeh andJude EjikeOkuli, emphasizing that Okulihad no locus standi to institute the suit as he was not as contestant for the office of the national chairman nor a member of any of the party’s organ.
On the 15thApril 2013, one Charles Nwazojie, instituted Suit No. FHC/AWK/CS/88/2013 for himself and others (Umeh surrogates) and INEC and five others including Chief Maxi Okwu. The suit was filed on the 15th April before Justice M.T. Salihu who granted the expert order restraining Chief Okwufrom parading himself as the national chairmanof the party the same day. The AnyiAgaba political train met a legal road block which was cleared on when the court vacated the order.
Not satisfied with the conduct of the APGA national convention held on the 8thApril, 2013 a stakeholder Michael Joe Onwudinjo in Suit No.A/126/2013 filed at AwkaHigh Court challenged the authenticity and credibility of the convention.In his judgment, Justice…………Ozor upheld the convention and affirmed Chief Okwuas the National Chairman of APGA. Onwudinjo further challenged the Awka High Court judgment at Court of Appeal Enugu Division but later withdrew the appeal which was part heard. The Court of Appeal struck it out on10th July 2013. Going by order II Rule5 of the Court of Appeal rules, 2011 tantamount to a dismissal on merits. Protantountil set aside through the courts and not by spin.Justice Ozorjudgment of 27thMay 2013 stands.
On 16th September 2013, Justice M.T. Salihu issue an ex-parte order that INEC should accept the AnambraState governorship nomination form of Dr. ChikeObidogbo under Chief Maxi Okwu leadership of APGA. INEC complied with the order of court and accepted Dr. Obidogo’s nomination form. Unfortunately the court vacated the order on 19th September 2013, paving way wrongly for Dr. Willie Obiano to contest the election. Dr. Obidigbopromptly challenged the court order at the Court of Appeal Enugu Division. Other suits were equally instituted to give credence that Dr. Obidigbo is the authentic APGA Governorship candidate in the November election and ought to be sworn-in as Governor on 17th March 2014. As law abiding political party, due process and the rule of law will be followed to ensure that Dr. Obidigbo takes over from Governor Peter Obi as the Chief Executive of AnambraState.
In August 2013, Chief Maxi Okwu and four others filed a suit against Chief Victor Umeh,AlhajiSaniShinkafi and INEC, and asked the court to uphold the 8th April, 2013, national convention that produced the Okwu’s leadership of the party, nullify the February 2011 purported national convention that ratified the Umeh’s executive through affirmation in violation of the party’s constitution that stipulatesthat elections should be by secrete and declare thatAlh. Shinkafi’s tenure asnationalsecretary had expired having assumed duty on 10th January,2003 national convention of the party at Old Parade Ground, Area 10, Abuja.
In his judgment delivered on 15th January, 2014 Justice AbdulkadirAbdu-Kafarati granted all the prayers and removed Umeh and Shinkafi as National Chairman and Secretary. He also upheld theOkwuleadership of the party. Umeh and Shinkafi promptly filed notice of appeal and stay of execution of the judgment. It is trite that the judgment being declaratory cannot be stayed or executed. The application was a delay tactic to hoodwink unwary members of the public in his insatiable lust for power and remain life Chairman of the party contrary to the party’s constitution that stipulates eight years tenure for all positions.
Umeh and Shinkafifurther rained abuse on the Judge and judiciary which prompted a contempt charge now pending before Justice Abdu-kafarati. Ever since Form 48 – Consequences of Disobedience of Order of Court was issued to both of them, they have been dodging service to appear in court. They may run and hide but the long arm of the law will surely catch up with them. It is not in the interest and good image of the party for them to be prosecuted and jailed for contempt of court, it is appropriate that all Nigerians especially political leaders should live exemplary lives by respecting and obeying clear orders of courts of competent jurisdiction.
When the Federal Government invited five political parties to nominate two delegates to the national convention through a letter by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, APGA under my leadership nominated Chief Chris EjikeUche, the party’s Deputy National Chairman (South) and Dr. SagirAuwalMaidoya, National Secretary. Government accepted our nominees. Their names were published in the news media.
But our erstwhile national chairman wrote petitions claiming he has a court of appeal judgment in his favour. The issue is not whether he has aCourt of Appeal ruling or even Supreme Court and World Court judgments. What Umeh keep brandishing was a matter between him and Ichie Jude EjikeOkuli, a former chairman of the party at Udi LGA, Enugu State which the Court of Appeal dismissed emphasizing that Okuli had no locus standi to institute the suit as he was not a contestant for the office of national chairman and was not a member of any organ of the party.
The reverse is the case in the Federal High Court Abuja suit that upheld the Okwuleadership. In his judgment, Justice Abdu-Kafarati stated that he took pains to read the Court of Appeal judgment and found that it did not confer any benefit on Chief Umeh as it was dismissed on the ground of jurisdiction. He declared that the 8th April 2013, National Convention was valid and directed INEC to deal with the Okwu leadership.Chief Umeh applied for stay of execution of the judgment which has not been granted as at today as his Appeal No: CA/A/40/2014 is pending at the Court of Appeal.
Angry that he has lost the leadership of the party and the delegates he purportedly nominated to the national conference including himself were set aside by the Federal Government, he decided to play the spoiler to ensure APGA authentic delegates, Chief Chris Uche and Dr. SagirMaidoya would not participate in the confab. Chief Umehwrote more petitions against the party’s delegates which prompted the Federal Government to temporarily suspend APGA delegates with the understanding that the party’s leadership would resolve its disagreement.
Appropriate action is being taken to ensure that the authentic APGA Delegates as submitted byChief Okwu’s leadership and published by Government participate in this centenary national conference in furtherance of President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda and renegotiation of our nationhood which will produce for the first time the people’s constitution. We are optimistic that government will reconsider its stand and allow our delegates to take their rightful place in the confab. It is the proper thing to do.We have confidence that it will be done shortly in compliance with the clear and unambiguous judgment of the Federal High Court that adjudicated on the APGA leadership dispute in favour of Chief Okwu
Chief Maxi Okwu
National Chairman APGA.