…volunteers to attend virtual NEC meeting today
President Muhammadu Buhari has thrown his weight behind the leadership of Victor Giadom as the Acting National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The president has also indicated that he would attend the virtual National Executive Council (NEC) meeting convened by Giadom and scheduled to hold at the Presidential Villa today.
The decision, which appears to have taken some top party leaders by surprise, came on the heels of the fierce power tussle among contending forces within the ruling party.
New Telegraph gathered that some party bigwigs were uncomfortable with the move and had expected the president to have consulted widely before endorsing Giadom to lead APC at this critical period given the trend of events in recent days.
There are indications that critical stakeholders of the ruling party, including some governors and members of the National Assembly, will also be at the proposed NEC meeting.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, who made the president’s position known, said his decision was based on sound legal advice and in line with the rule of law.
“The president has received very convincing advice on the position of the law as far as the situation in the party is concerned and has determined that the law is on the side of Victor Giadom as Acting National Chairman.
“Because he will always act in accordance with the law, the president will be attending the virtual meeting Giadom called for tomorrow (today) afternoon.
“We urge the media to stop promoting manufactured controversies and to not give any further room for mischievous interpretations of the law on this matter.
“In addition to the president, the Giadom meeting will, hopefully, be attended by our governors and the leaders of the National Assembly,” Shehu said.
It would be recalled that following the suspension of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as chairman of the ruling party by the Court of Appeal, there has been divisions in the leadership of APC with one faction loyal to the ousted national chairman supporting the ailing former governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, as the acting national chairman, while another recognised the Deputy National Secretary, Victor Giadom, as Oshiomhole’s legal successor.
With the latest development, there are fears that all decisions taken by the Ajimobi faction, including the primaries that produced Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the governorship candidate of the APC in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Edo State, may have amounted to nullity.
However, New Telegraph gathered that a section of party leaders were comfortable with the president’s decision to support Giadom, particularly on the move to hold NEC meeting.
A serving governor told New Telegraph last night that he and some of his colleagues were favourably disposed to the president’s decision because the NEC meeting presents an opportunity to resolve the crisis plaguing the party. The governor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was better to back Giadom to resolve the challenges facing the party instead of leaving all the contending forces to pull the entire house down.
A total of 126 members would be expected to attend the NEC meeting. Apart from President Buhari, others expected at the meeting include the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, governors, the party caucus at the National Assembly, members of the National Working Committee (NWC), state party chairmen and some members of the party from the six geopolitical zones.
However, the Ajimobi-led NWC has protested against the meeting, declaring it illegal.
The NWC members led by Ajimobi has turned down the invitation for the NEC meeting of the party slated for today.
The factional Acting National Chairman, Hilliard Eta, and Acting National Secretary, Arc. Waziri Bulama, said the meeting as convoked was illegal.
The NWC members, who met for over five hours after Buhari gave a nod to the NEC meeting, said the President was ill advised on the meeting.
Their statement read in parts: “We wish to unequivocally state that members of the National Working Committee (NWC) believe that the President was offered wrong advice or blackmailed into lending his weighty office to the illegality of the NEC meeting purportedly convened by one Victor Giadom on 25th June, 2020.
“We hereby respectfully implore Mr. President to kindly avail himself with facts of the matter regarding the impasse presently experienced by the party so as to guide him in his assessment of the matter because we are sure that the President if properly advised, would come to the conclusion that the meeting convened by Chief Victor Giadom bothers on illegality and criminality.
“The NWC regrets to turn down the invitation to the illegal and unconstitutional NEC convened by Chief Victor Giadom.
“We believe that attending such a meeting will amount to embracing illegalities and turning a blind eye to the infractions on the Constitution of our great party.”
Earlier, Bulama had said that Giadom cannot preside over the NEC meeting of APC because he was no longer a member of the party.
“He had voluntarily resigned in compliance with Article 31(1)(i) of our constitution to contest the position of deputy governor in Rivers State during the last general election and has not been re-nominated by his zone to return to that office.
“Further, his non-membership of the NWC has been affirmed by the courts and an order restraining him from parading himself as a member of the NWC was granted against him on June 22, 2020 in the case of DELE MOSES & ANOR V APC (SUIT NO: PHC/360/2020).
“He has also been suspended by the Rivers State chapter of our party and the NWC received communication of same on June 21, 2020,” he said.
Meanwhile, the factional Acting National Chairman of APC, Hilliard Eta, has raised the alarm, alleging that his life was under threat.
Eta, who is the National Vice Chairman (South-South) of APC, is leading the NWC made up of 16 members against the Giadom’s faction of three members. He is holding brief for Ajimobi, who is APC Deputy National Chairman, South.
Eta alleged that he had received information that some thugs were being sent from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to burn APC National Secretariat in Abuja.
According to him, the allegations have not been reported to the Police, but would be done after briefing his colleagues.
“We got information that they are going to send thugs from Port Harcourt and that they are coming here to burn the secretariat and make it look like the NWC instigated a fire incident.
“The thugs have two intentions coming to Abuja. The burning of the national secretariat is the number one. Number two is that they are going to make an attempt on my life. I just thought that I should let the press know about these plots,” Eta said.
Also, the Oshiomhole-backed faction of APC in Edo State suffered a setback yesterday as a Federal High Court has given an order sealing off its secretariat in Benin City.
The court order followed an ex parte motion on June 24, 2020, in Suit No. FHC/B/CS/S7/2020 filed by Anselm Ojezua challenging the setting up of a factional party secretariat of APC in the state.
The presiding judge, Justice A.A. Demi-Ajayi, ordered the parties to maintain status quo, directing the defendant to show cause why its recently opened secretariat should not be sealed.
The matter has been adjourned to the 29th of June 2020, for the hearing of the main application.