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RE: APC Parallel Congress In Abia State And The Choice Before The Party At The National Headquarter, By Ikechukwu Uzuegbu ESQ

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I have decided to respond to your write-up with the above quoted caption for the reason that your facts are not correct and your submissions devoid/beret of the relevant provisions of the Constitution of All Progressives Congress (APC), the Electoral Act, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), any other statutory enactment and or decided cases of our appellate courts, the supreme court of Nigeria and the court of appeal.

A legal practitioner is learned and schooled in law, and in consequence, an opinion, advice, recommendations and or suggestions of a legal practitioner to a body, person or persons, connected with, and or imbedded in legal issues like you write up under discourse, ought to be rich and healthy in law. A submission of a legal practitioner on law, without reference or citation of relevant laws statutory or decided cases, is and remains an academic exercise which finds no succour or habitation in law and that is what
your write up means and represents.

With the above preamble, I shall now herein respond and react to your deliberate misinformation and misadvise to All Progressives Congress (APC). The All Progressives Congress (APC), 2021, Nationwide congresses, to elect party official/executives at all levels of the party, commenced on 31st day of July, 2021, nationwide.

All Progressives Congress (APC), as a political party and in exercise of her powers per and qua a political party, through her National Working Committee (NWC) appointed Congress Committees for all the states of the Federation – including Abia State as well as the FCT. The powers to conduct congresses or primaries of any political party resides with the National Working Committee of the Party (NWC). Accordingly, Article 13.3 (vi) of the Constitution of APC, 2014, (as amended), provides inter allia:
“The national executive committee of the party shall be the principal executive body of the party and shall perform the following functions: 2(vi) “Create, elect and appoint any committee it may deem necessary, desirable or expedient and assign to them such powers and functions as it may deem fit and proper”(underlined mine). Again, Article 20(a) of the same Constitution provides thus:
All party posts prescribed or implied by this Constitution shall be filled by democratically
conducted elections at ail respective national convention or congresses”(underlined mine).

Anchoring on the above clear provisions of the said Constitution, the NWC of APC appointed seven (7) man ward and local government congress committee for Abia State with Hon Sunny Goli as the Chairman and Hon Mukter Bajeh as the Secretary of both. Same Hon Sunny Goli led Committee conducted peacefully both the ward congress for the 184 electoral wards in Abia State and Local Government Congresses for the 17 Local Government Areas of Abia State on the 31st day of July, 2021, and 4th day of September, 2021 respectively. It was in the said two congresses that the ward and LGA delegates that will vote at the State congress alongside statutory delegates emerged. Thus in law, it is the said ward and LGA congresses conducted by Hon Sunny Goli led 7-man congress committee for Abia State that is a legal congress – non other person or persons based on my above submission anchored on law can conduct ward and LGA congresses in Abia State.

The Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of EZE V A.P.G.A. (2020) 3 NWLR (PT 1712) PG 413, at Ratio 7, pronounced that the result of a primary election which is akin to a result of a congress election can only be signed by the Chairman and the Secretary of the Committee and in the case of Abia State for the ward and LGA congresses, Hon Sunny Goli (Chairman) and Hon. Mukter Bajeh (Secretary).

APC after the successful ward and LGA congresses on the aforesaid dates, set up appeal committees for all the states including Abia State for aggrieved members to ventilate their grievances. In the case of Abia State, the Congress appeal committees for both Congresses received no complaint and or petition. 3 with the successful conduct of the ward and LGA congresses nationwide on the said dates and with the conclusion of the assignment of the congress appeal committees, All Progressives Congress (APC), fixed her state congress to elect state executive officers of the party initially for 6th October, 2021, but same was later rescheduled for 16th October, 2021. In accordance with the provisions of Article 13.3(vi) of the APC
constitution above quoted, the NWC of APC appointed State Congress Committee members for all the states of the Federation and FCT. For Abia State Hon Kolawole Babatunde was appointed the Chairman, while Hon Mukter Bajeh was appointed the Secretary of the seven(7) – man state congress committee for the state. APC as a political party through her national office wrote/notified all relevant agencies of government about the 16th October, 2021, state congress nationwide.
The party equally from the national office, applied to state governments for permission to use state government facilities for the said exercise. APC was not granted permission by Abia State government for the use of any of her facilities. In other to proceed with the said congress, the Hon. Kolawole led Congress committe secured a popular open field, opposite Holy Rosary Secondary School Umuahia (adjacent state police CID)and announced same as venue for the conduct of the 16th October, 2021, State congress in the State.

On the said 16th October, 2021, Hon Kolawole Babatunde led his Committee members to the said venue and conducted peacefully, Abia State Congress, wherein Deacon Enyinnaya Harbour emerged as the State Chairman of APC Abia State alongside other 26 officers/officials.

The said congress was monitored and witnessed by all relevant federal government agencies as required by the Electoral Act, 2011, namely: INEC, POLICE, DSS, Civil defence and even the press. The result and or the outcome of the said congress were signed by Hon. Kolawole Babatunde and Hon. Mukter Bajeh as a required by law and on 18th day of October, 2021, same result was submitted and received by the National Secretariat of APC at Abuja.

From the above incontrovertible facts, it is imperative to let you know that the only Ward, L.G.A. and State Congresses conducted in Abia State on 31st July 2021, 4th September 2021, and 16th October 2021 respectively, are the said congresses conducted by Hon Sunny Goli led Committee and Hon Kolawole Babatunde led committees, which the said committee signed the results/outcome of the said congresses and equally submitted same to the party.

My learned friend, the implication of my above submission which has the law in its support, is that, no parallel ward, LGA and State congresses took place in Abia State vide the congresses of 31st July 2021, 4th September 2021 and 16th October 2021respectively, contrary to your assertions.

For the 16th October, 2021, State congress, Deacon Enyinnaya Harbour emerged the Chairman of Abia APC in the said congress alongside other 26 officials. His election has all the constitutional, legal and lawful imprimatur. The delegates that voted in the said congress are the ward and LGA delegates elected on 31st July, 2021 and 4th September, 2021, respectively in both the ward and LGA congresses conducted by Hon Sunny Goli led Abia State ward and LGA congress committee alongside statutory delegates.

The law is clear and unquestionable that, valid, legal, constitutional and lawful congress or primaries of a political party is the one conducted by the National Working Committee (NWC) of a party through a congress Committee appointed by the NWC, nothing more, nothing less. Therefore and by law, State Exco of a party like Donatus Nwankpa purported caretaker committee in Abia State lacks the vires/powers to conduct congress or primaries.

The supreme court of Nigeria, in the recent case of AKPATASON V ADJOTO (2019) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1693) Pg 501 at 504, Ratio 2 pontificated thus: “Any primary election conducted by the State executive of a party is illegal.”
The above pronouncement of the Supreme Court applies mutantis mutandis to congress.

See also YAR’ADUA V, YANDOMA (2015) 4NWLR (PT 1448) Pg 123 at 137, Ratio 10; EMENIKE V P.O. (2012) 12 NWLR Pg 556.

No know law in Nigeria statutory or decided case conferred the powers to conduct congress or primaries of a political party to a state Executive 5 chapter of a party as against the NEC of a party through a congress committee.

Similarly, no law statutory or decided case stipulates that for a congress committee appointed by the NEC of a party to conduct a valid congress or primaries, it must do so in conjunction with the state executive committee of the party at the state for same to be legal/valid. A congress committee appointed by the NEC of a party has the powers to co-opt /appoint other party members in the state of her assignment to assist in the performance of its functions.

You may not be aware that in Suit No. HUM/26/2021: MR EKEH ISAIHA & ANOR VS ALL PROGRSSIVES CONGRESS & ANOR, judgment of Abia State High Court holden at Umunneochi Judicial division, delivered on 12th day of August, 2021, Coram Hon. Justice Benson C. Anya (J), which said suit, I filed for the Claimants, the court in delivering judgment in favour of the claimants by granting all their Reliefs declared in Reliefs C-E thus: ”
C). I hereby order the Defendants to conduct the nationwide congresses of the 1st Defendant as scheduled to commence form Saturday the 31st day of July, 2021.

D). I hereby declare that all the congresses conducted in the 36 States of Nigeria, including Abia State, by the committees set up by the All Progressives Congress’ (APC’s) Caretaker/Extra Ordinary Convention Planning Committee
(COCPC), is lawful and valid.

E). I hereby declare that any other congress of parallel nature which is not conducted by the congress committees mandated by the All
Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extra Ordinary Convention Planning Committee
(CECPC) is illegal, null, void and of no effect.” The said judgment is a subsisting judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction which has not been set aside by the appellate courts.

No appeal in any court in Nigeria is pending against the said judgment, neither is there any application in any court in Nigeria to set same aside.

The laws is elementary that a judgment of court of competent jurisdiction remains latent, potent and positive until set aside. 6bAll Progressives Congress (APC) on 3rd of Sept., 2021, published the full judgment of the Court at pages 28-29 of the Nation Newspaper of Friday 3rd Sept., 2021, and in five other national dailies with the caption to wit:
“APC CECPC HAS FULL COURT BACKING FOR NATION WIDE CONGRESSES”

From the above, and contrary to your position, no parallel or factional congresses took place in Abia State vide the ward, LGA and State congresses of 31st day of July, 2021, 4th Sept., 2021 and 16th October, 2021.

The font et origo of my submission is therefore, that, Donatus Nwankpa led Abia State APC caretaker Committee lacks the vires/power of to conduct APC Congresses of 31st July, 2021 (ward), 4th Sept (LGA), and 16th Oct., 2021 (state).
The purported congresses by Donatus Nwankpa as alluded by you is (NULLUS BOLLUS) nullity.

In consequence and by operation of the law, Acho Obioma was never on 16th October, 2021, elected as Chairman of Abia State APC.

The gathering of some APC members led by Donatus Nwankpa on 16th October, 2021, at the indoor hall of Umuahia Township Stadium as masterminded and sponsored by PDP Abia State led government that assigned them the said venue is what Hon Kolawole Babatunde the Abia State Congress Committee Chairman for the State congress of 16th October, 2021, described in his opening speech as “Picnic”, and which I also termed “Political Jamboree”. Donatus Nwankpa led caretaker Committee cannot validly elect Acho Obioma as the Abia State APC State Chairman on 16th October, 2021, in that they lack the powers to so do.

The law is elementary though universal that “No one gives what he possesses not”, this is founded on the legal maxim: nemo dat quod non habet”, which translates to “he gives nothing who has nothing”. See MALAMI & ANOR VS IMONKHUEDE OHIKHU ARE & 3 ORS (2019) 7 NWLR (Pt 1670) Pg 132 at 144 Ratio 22.

Donatus Nwankpa Led caretaker committee in Abia APC gives nothing regarding the ward, LGA and state congresses as it has nothing to give. The above answers your two posers as to the legality of the Abia State congress committee conducting a successful ward, LGA, and State 7 congress without the input of the state Exco, and under which provisions of the Constitution of APC congress committee conduct ward, LGA and state congresses without input of the state Exco.

I had expected you to first, cite the relevant provisions of the Constitution of APC 2014 (as amended), or decided cases of our superior courts, that makes it mandatory for a congress committee appointed by the NEC of a party to liase and secure the input of state Exco for it to conduct a valid congress which otherwise not done, such congress or congresses becomes a nullity.

The law as we know it still remains that, “he who asserts must prove.” See Sections 131 (1), 131 (2), 136(1) and 140 Evidence Act, 2011.

All in all, the ward, LGA and state congresses of APC in Abia State, were conducted in Abia State by the National Working Committee (NWC) of
the party through her legitimate appointed congress committees appointed by her by virtue of the powers conferred on NEC of APC by Articles 13.3(vi) of the Constitution above quoted.

In view of the above, your allegations that High Chief Ikechi Emenike, Hon Barr. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha and Barr. F.N. Nwosu conducted a parallel congress and your purported negative argument against the legitimate state congress can be described as a mighty fall from the legal Olympian height to the mudane nadir.

On your submission or suggestions on the choice before “APC National Secretariat”, it is submitted that All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker / Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) led by His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni and the National Leadership of the party have no option/choice to make regarding the ward, LGA and state congresses in Abia State conducted variously on 31st July, 2021, 4th Sept., 2021 and 16th October, 2021, respectively, in that the said Congresses stands unshakably firm on a solid legal foundation.

The reason as canvassed above is that the said congresses were legitimate, legal, lawful, constitutional, peaceful and devoid of any legal impediment and the outcome/result accepted by the party. Instead, the option available to any aggrieved APC member in Abia State regarding the outcomes of the said congresses in Abia State, is to embrace the window of reconciliation provided by the party through the just inaugurated national reconciliation committee of the party. APC has put internal conflict resolution mechanism in place for the resolution of any perceived grievance by any member of the party in Abia State and other states regarding the outcome of the said congresses.

A member or members of a political party, who wish to remain in his or her political party is duty bound to respect the decisions of the party so as to remain in the party.

Accordingly, in AGI V PDP (2017) 17 NWLR (PT 1595) Pg 386 at 394, Ratio 1, the Supreme Court admonished that:
“A political party is supreme over it own affairs”
In Ratio 1, the Supreme Court maintained that”
Every member of a political party, in order to remain
in the party, must be loyal and be bound by the rules
and regulations of his party and must respect the
party’s decision.

Our view above is anchored on the fact that issue of leadership and or membership of a political party remain an internal affairs of a political party and not justiciable in a court of law.

In APC VS MOSES (2021) 14 NWLR (PT 1796) Pg 278 at 294-295 Rationales 14 and 15, judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria delivered on 5th March, 2021, the Supreme Court concurred that:
Members of a party would do well to understand and appreciate the finality of a party’s decision over its domestic or internal affairs. The court would only interfere where the party has violated its own rules. In the instant case, the focus was on the Guidelines issued by a political party regarding congresses to fill executive internal leadership positions. Issues of leadership and/or membership of a political party is an internal or domestic affairs of the party, which is within the political party’s jurisdiction and is indeed “No-Go” area for courts, as they lack jurisdiction to delve into such 9 affairs or matters. The court’s jurisdiction is ousted, because such subject matter is non-justiciable.

A member of a voluntary organization cannot sue for breach of the internal constitution and regulations of the organization in the internal affairs of the organization. The doctrine of ultra vires has no application in the internal affairs of a voluntary association of individuals. In the instant case, the decision of the National Working Committee of the appellant to hold Ward congresses for general purposes in Rivers State in future could not be
challenged in court as being contrary to the appellant’s constitution or on any ground. In
any case, the respondents did not even show that the future congresses would be in violation of the 1st respondent’s constitution and rules. In the light of the foregoing, the instant cross-appeal was non-justiciable (underlined mine). The goodnews is that before 2023 general election, APC will make
every necessary efforts to make Abia State Chapter a moving train that will accommodate every genuine and sincere member of the party who wants to work for the party to enable the party coast to victory in all elections.

With the above, I say no more, and agree with you that, “a word is enough for the wise”.

V.C. Nwankwo Esq, is an Nnewi, Anambra State based Legal Practitioner and a Senior Member of NBA; Head of Chambers/Principal Partners, V.C. Nwankwo & Co, SEMPER FIDELIS chambers No. 36 Owerri Road, Nnewi or No. 127 Owerri Road, Okigwe, Imo State, former Honourable Commissioner for public utilities and Water Resources Abia State (2011-2012), and presently the State Legal Adviser of APC – elected on 16th October 2021 by the Hon Kolawole Babatunde led 7-man Congress Committee for Abia State.

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