The ongoing All Progressives Congress (APC) membership registration and revalidation exercise is threatened by disagreements and legal battles, reports ‘Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) commenced the registration and revalidation of members across the country during the week, with its leadership expressing confidence in the process, saying that its members have been cautioned to obey the rules guiding the exercise in the overall interest of the party. In spite of objection to the exercise by some prominent leaders and chieftains of the party, the exercise kicked off formally last Tuesday with registration and revalidation taking place at most of the designated venues nationwide.
Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, who is also the Chairman of the APC National Caretaker Committee, while expressing optimism that the exercise will go hitch free, pointed out that the numerous reconciliation efforts of his committee would yield the desired results during the registration exercise nationwide. He assured that members of the party, in all its chapters, are united in their pursuit of a better and bigger party which the process will bring about.
“Our focus is to strengthen the party through a bottom-up approach and to carry everyone along, while those aggrieved have happily rejoined APC just as new ones are joining our great party on a daily basis,” the governor said in a statement credited to his spokesperson, Mamman Mohammed. The governor also expressed confidence in the officials saddled with carrying out the exercise across the country, saying they have been told how important the exercise is and they are ready to ensure that it is a success.
Buni’s optimism came just as some prominent voices within the party doubted the necessity of the whole exercise. Two former National Chairmen of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, were part of the pessimists. Akande dismissed the party’s ongoing membership registration and revalidation exercise as an unnecessary waste of resources. Oshiomhole also doubted the need for such an elaborate process when regular updates of party registers would have sufficed.
However, Buni was not without APC chieftains who shared his optimism about the registration exercise. Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and former Governor John Odigie Oyegun of Edo State supported the exercise wholeheartedly. Fayemi said there was nothing wrong with the exercise since it was being done in compliance with the party’s constitution. Odigie-Oyegun said the exercise will further unite and strengthen the party across the country upon completion given the transparency with which it is being carried out.
Factions at war
But if Buni and his co-travellers thought the exercise will go smoothly, by now they must be having a rethink. Barely three days into the registration and revalidation processes that are meant to last for two weeks, factions of the party in some state chapters, have resumed battles for the control of the party. Stories of confrontations and disagreements over the ongoing exercise continued to break as groups and individuals within the concerned state chapters engaged in allegations and counter allegations.
In Kwara State, the first sign of trouble emerged when a group under the aegis of Concerned Youths Stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State rejected the composition of the registration committee. The seven-man committee is headed by Senator John Danboyi. The group’s spokesman, John Adegboye, who spoke at a press conference in Ilorin, said the committee members left no one in doubt about their bias in the conduct of the exercise.
Protracted crisis in the Kwara APC had worsened after the removal of Bashir Bolarinwa as the party chairman and the nomination of his erstwhile deputy, Abdulahi Samari, as replacement. Recall that at least 10 persons were reportedly injured last Wednesday when rival groups within the state chapter of the party clashed during a stakeholders’ meeting in Ilorin, the state capital. The meeting was convened by party’s leaders in the state to sensitise the members on the registration exercise.
The party is divided into two groups of those supporting Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and those loyal to Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed. Adegboye accused Governor AbdulRazaq, Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello and his Yobe State counterpart, Mai Mala Buni, of promoting the crisis in the state chapter of APC. He urged President Muhammadu Buhari, the APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu, and other critical stakeholders to intervene and resolve the crisis in the state chapter of the party.
“If urgent action is not taken to arrest the situation in Kwara State, the consequences will be better imagined than experienced. We reject the Senator John Danboyi-led seven-man APC membership registration team to Kwara State. Our request is clear, we ask for a reconstitution of the APC membership registration committee for Kwara State. The new committee should be one that is not only truly independent but will be fair and just to all interests in the party without fear or favour. This is our minimum irreducible demand. This is the only path to peace. So, it is either this or nothing,” he said.
Meanwhile, Governor AbdulRazaq, has warned aggrieved members of the party to avoid fomenting trouble in the APC or risked being expelled. Describing some APC chieftains as dissidents who are plotting to halt the membership registration through lawsuits, the governor noted that such aggrieved members, who are also bent on bringing down his government, should retrace their steps or face expulsion in no time. He added that those who are into this mission get their power and backing from Abuja.
The news from Rivers State is not without anxiety as party chieftains and members across the state failed to agree on the modalities for the registration exercise. While loyalists of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, are upbeat and eager to participate in the exercise, supporters of Senator Magnus Abe are dissatisfied with the entire process. The two groups, according to very reliable sources, have been working at cross purposes since the commencement of the registration and revalidation exercise in the state.
According to Ogbonna Nwuke, an ally of the Minister of Transportation, the process is going on smoothly in the state and people are waiting eagerly to have the opportunity to join the APC in Rivers State. “What is clear to us is that materials are here, but people are to be trained first before registration starts. After the training, then we will go into operations in the field,” he said.
However, a spokesman for the Abe-led APC faction under the chairmanship of Igo Aguma, Livingstone Weche, said the APC in the state is not participating in the process due to a court order. “There is a court order stopping the revalidation in Rivers State. That is what the Igo Aguma-led faction complied with. You are aware that an order was given by a Rivers State High Court,” Weche explained.
In Imo, the scenario is not much different. A faction of the party loyal to Governor Hope Uzodinma is going on with the exercise while loyalists of former governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume are up in arms against the exercise on the grounds that they were still in court challenging the conduct of the exercise. Dan Nwafor, a factional state chairman loyal to Okorocha, is in court challenging the process. He also declared that any activity taking place without his supervision as the authentic chairman would be illegal.
However, the state APC caretaker committee chairman, Marco Nlemigbo, said, “Truth is that there is nothing wrong with what APC is doing. The exercise will win more members to our party. Even in families, parents check if all their children have come back. This exercise was in order because it would eventually strengthen the party. We are adhering strictly to the guidelines of the party for the exercise and every willing person is given the chance to participate in the exercise.”
Litany of litigations
Aside the wrangling that has characterised the exercise in many states, unending litigations instituted in various courts across the country, threatens the process and outcome of the exercise. Last November, a former APC Youth Leader of the party in Abia State, Kalu Kalu Agu, leading a group known as Concerned APC Members, had opposed the move by the Governor Mai-Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee to embark on membership registration.
He instituted a case at the Federal High Court in Abuja, presided over by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, urging the Caretaker Committee to halt the proposed registration of fresh members and allow the next NWC to carry out such assignments. The move to continue with the process, he feared, may affect the reis of the case instituted by him. The case is still being heard by the court.
In Kwara State, twenty members of the Concerned APC Youth Stakeholders instituted a court action restraining the chairman of the party’s registration exercise, Senator John Danboi, and state Chairman of the party, Abdulahi Samari, from going ahead to organise the exercise. They argued that the exercise would lead to chaos and threat to the security of the state, “known to be a state of harmony, if embarked upon.”
In a suit number UACG/CV/20/2021, filed in an Upper Area Court of the state in the Ganmo judicial division, the group averred that the registration exercise planned for February 9, 2021, by the APC is singlehandedly planned by only the Fagbemi tendency, excluding three other tendencies that make up the party. The plaintiffs averred that in state chapter of the APC, there are four tendencies which are Lai Mohammed Tendency; Akogun Tendency; Fagbemi Tendency, and Gbemisola Saraki Tendency,” the group said.
The APC group also alleged that on February 3, 2021, the defendants, with the assistance of suspected hoodlums, prevented the plaintiffs and their supporters from entering the venue of the meeting of the APC stakeholders meeting in Ilorin. The plaintiffs stated further that if the re-registration exercise proceeds as planned by the defendants, most of the members of the association will be disenfranchised, including the plaintiffs, which will amount to violation of their fundamental human rights to freedom of association,” it added. The case is still in court.
The Senator Magnus Abe-led Rivers State faction of the All Progressives Congress and its chairman, Igo Aguma, is also in court in their bid to stop the APC membership registration and revalidation exercise. Five chieftains of the faction had approached a High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, to seek a restraining order to stop the exercise.
The plaintiffs in the suit are: Emmanuel Deeyah, Golden Chioma, Queen Enyi, Ogundu Mini and Nkesi Chindah, they had also asked for an order of the court restraining the APC and the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/ Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee from recognising Isaac Abbot-Ogbobula as caretaker chairman of the state. The plaintiffs, through their counsel, Henry Bello, approached the State High Court seeking an order of Interlocutory Injunction against the party and its National CTC Chairman. The parties are still arguing the matter before the judge.
In Zamfara State, the reconciliation between the two warring factions of the party in the state; that led by former Governor, Abdul Aziz Yari and Senator Kabiru Garbage Marafa would give the party a boost and reposition it. Consequently, the registration exercise is going on smoothly in the state as party members and chieftains, irrespective of loyalties, are presenting themselves to be registered as party members across the state.
The state chairman of the party, Hon. Lawali Liman Kaura, said the registration and revalidation exercise is expected to be hitch free as security operatives are on top of security issues that may arise. “The registration and validation exercise would help us to know the actual number of our registered members in the state,” he added. According to the caretaker committee chairman, every registered member is free to participate in the registration and validation exercise of members.
Meanwhile, the state chairman, caretaker committee of the party in Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulahi Samari, has said the ongoing exercise will benefit the party in numerous ways. While urging members of the party to be peaceful and orderly during the ongoing registration and revalidation of members of the party, he appealed to all chieftains of the party to support the exercise.
Samari, who said that the APC registration and revalidation exercise is being carried out across 1,872 polling units of the state and simultaneously across all the 16 local government areas of the state, said the party sees no reason why anyone should deploy violence or resort to self-help in the exercise, adding that, “every willing person will be registered.”
“Any report or complaints from each unit should be channeled to the party through their respective ward supervisors. Ward supervisors should report any complaints from their end to their local government supervisors, while the local government supervisors channel any report or complaints to the state committee.
“The party has set up a standing committee to ensure prompt resolutions of any development anywhere in the state. Once again, the party urges everyone to be peaceful and orderly. Security agencies will be on the ground to maintain law and order. No genuine party member is expected to engage in any violent act.”