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National convention: Aregbesola, Lai’s allies, aggrieved chieftains’ supporters dump APC

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Rauf Aregbesola and Lai Mohammed

The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress in at least 12 states has not abated despite the conclusion of the party’s national convention and the charge by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for unity, The PUNCH has learnt.

It was also gathered that the reconciliation committee headed by Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who is now the chairman of the party, had yet to submit its full report as only an interim report had been handed over to the APC.

The PUNCH had reported that there were 208 ongoing court cases in different parts of the country by aggrieved APC members. However, with many of the cases being concluded, some losers have now begun dumping the party, while others are now engaged in talks with the Peoples Democratic Party.

In Kwara State, it was gathered that members of the APC faction led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had removed the party’s flag from their secretariat. A visit to the factional secretariat on 26 Abdulrazaq Road, Flower Garden, GRA, Ilorin, revealed that members had deserted the building.

A member of the state House of Assembly representing the Ojomu/Balogun Constituency in the Offa Local Government Area, Saheed Popoola, who is a leading member of the Lai Mohammed faction, announced his defection to the Social Democratic Party on the floor of the Assembly last week.

In a chat with The PUNCH on Monday, the faction said it had exited the APC.

The Publicity Secretary of the APC faction elected at the parallel congress organised by the group, Ibrahim Sharafadeen, disclosed this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents.

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“We have exited the APC officially, but we have not declared for any political party. Our leaders have not made any public declaration on which political party we are moving to. We will make it public very soon,” Sharafadeen stated.

Asked if the faction would move to the SDP, Sharafadeen said no, adding, “That was the sole decision of Popoola, who informed the Kwara State House of Assembly that he had defected from the APC.”

In Sokoto State where there is no APC chairman currently, it was learnt that the PDP had begun making moves to bring aggrieved members into its fold.

An APC chieftain in the state said, “Sokoto State is a peculiar matter. The party has no recognised leadership at the moment, because of the court case challenging the congresses. In fact, only statutory delegates from Sokoto, like former governors and others, were allowed to vote (during the national convention). Others, who emerged from the congresses, were barred.

“We are aware that the PDP is already trying to woo some of the APC members into its fold. And if this disagreement isn’t well managed, the APC may lose in Sokoto again.”

In Zamfara State, the faction led by Governor Bello Matawalle is the recognised one, but the factions led by Senator Kabiru Marafa and ex-governor Abul’Aziz Yari have refused to withdraw their cases from court.

The Mafara faction said it would not withdraw its pending cases before the courts despite the national convention conducted last Saturday.

Speaking to The PUNCH on the telephone, the spokesman for the faction, Bello Bakyasuwa, said the pending cases in various courts would be pursued to logical conclusion.

He said, “We are going ahead with the court cases. We have pending cases at various courts and we will not withdraw the cases, because we are still not convinced that we have been treated fairly.

“We are challenging the legality of Governor Matawalle’s factional chairman, Tukur Danfulani, and the remaining executive committee members, because they were not elected in a legal way.

“We are also challenging the reason why the national headquarters of our great party refused to recognise our factional party executives, who were duly elected during the parallel congress held in the state.”

Bakyasuwa also stressed that the faction would challenge last Saturday’s national convention as due process was not followed during the event.

“We are going to court to challenge the election of Senator Abdullahi Adamu and other national executive members of the party, because of a series of illegalities. We were really not happy with the conduct of the congress and we will not let it go like that,” he stated.

On whether the Marafa’s APC faction would remain in APC or not, Bakyasuwa said it was in consultation with lawyers.

“We are in consultation with our lawyers on whether to remain in the party or not. So, I cannot precisely tell you what will happen until after the consultation,” he explained.

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In Osun State, Abiodun Agboola, Publicity Secretary of the APC faction backed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said members of the group would wait for the court to decide a matter it instituted challenging Governor Gboyega Oyetola’s eligibility, which is before an Abuja court.

Agboola told one of our correspondents that the group had no plans to defect from the APC.

He, however, declared that the group would pursue the matter of Oyetola’s eligibility to stand as the governorship candidate of the APC to a logical conclusion.

He stated, “We are not moving to any party and we are not talking to any party whatsoever. We remain members of the APC. The national convention has come and gone. Officers have emerged and they have been sworn in.

“That does not mean that we are going to leave the party. But we have a case in court. We are challenging his (Oyetola’s) eligibility. The case came up before a Federal High Court in Abuja last Friday. We are saying that he is not even qualified to stand as the flag bearer of the party in the election coming up in July. We will wait for the court to decide that case before the next line of action.”

But a former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Diran Odeyemi, said the opposition party in Osun State would be interested in negotiating with the APC faction backed by Aregbesola.

Odeyemi, an associate of the Osun PDP governorship flag bearer, Senator Ademola Adeleke, who observed that negotiations should not be ruled out ahead of the poll, added that his party would reach out to all those opposed to Oyetola in the APC, since they had been ostracised by the APC.

He contended that the crises in the Osun APC would be leveraged upon by the PDP to have a good outing in the governorship poll.

PUNCH

Politics

Adeleke freezes government accounts, reverses state name

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Ademola Adeleke

The newly inaugurated Governor of Osun State, Ademola Adeleke, has frozen all government accounts in the state.

Adeleke directed this in his first executive order upon inauguration on Sunday.

Adeleke, in his speech delivered at the inauguration, alleged that the erstwhile governor of the state, Adegboyega Oyetola, carried out some actions “maliciously” after he (Adeleke) won the July 16 governorship election, including “hurried” employments without provisions to sustain them.

He claimed these actions were roadblocks channeled at making things difficult in his administration.

Adeleke also reversed the state name from ‘State of Osun’ to ‘Osun State’, saying the former was alien to the constitution.

“My good people of Osun, since you elected me as your governor on the July 16, 2022, which the Independent National Electoral Commission announced on July 17, 2022, the former Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, maliciously started putting road blocks to make things difficult and almost impossible for the new administration to serve you.

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“Mass employments were carried out without budgetary provisions for salary payments for the new employees; even when the state was struggling to pay salaries and deliver other services. Various hurried and criminally backdated contracts were awarded and again without budgetary provisions.

“Appointments of several Obas were hurriedly done without following due process, just to mention a few.

 “All efforts to get the governor set up a Transition Committee and submit hand-over notes in line with best practices proved abortive.

“It is therefore my desire to ask for your patience and understanding to give my administration a few weeks to review and sort out all the actions and malicious confusions which the immediate past administration has created since July 17, 2022. Those actions were indeed vindictive measures against the people of Osun State for voting them out of office,” Adeleke said.

Giving new orders, he said, “Consequently, I hereby issue the following directives which will be backed up with appropriate Executive orders:

“Immediate freezing of all government accounts in banks and other financial institutions;

“Immediate establishment of a panel to carry out an inventory and recover all government assets.

“An immediate establishment of a panel to review all appointments and major decisions of the immediate past administration taken after July 17, 2022.

“An immediate reversal to the constitutionally recognised name of our state, ‘Osun State’. All government insignia, correspondences and signages should henceforth reflect Osun State rather than State of Osun which is unknown to the Nigerian constitution.”

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Ebonyi INEC office set on fire, PVCs, ballot boxes burnt

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Hoodlums on Sunday set ablaze the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office at Iboko in the Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

This was disclosed by the National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement.

He said the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ebonyi State, Mrs Onyeka Pauline Ugochi, reported that that the incident occurred around 10am.

Although he said no casualties resulted from the attack, the main building and all the movable and immovable items inside it were destroyed.

“These include 340 ballot boxes, 130 voting cubicles, 14 electric power generators, large water storage tanks, assorted office furniture and fixtures and yet to be determined quantities of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs),” Okoye said.

According to him, this is the third attack on INEC local government office in less than three weeks having earlier recorded similar attacks on the commission’s offices in Ogun and Osun states.

He said that the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies had commenced a full investigation into the incident.

 

The statement read, “The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ebonyi State, Mrs Onyeka Ugochi, reported that our Izzi Local Government Area office located in Iboko, was set ablaze this morning.

“The incident occurred around 10.00am when some unidentified persons set the entire building ablaze.

“Although no casualties resulted from the attack, the main building and all the movable and immovable items inside it were destroyed. These include 340 ballot boxes, 130 voting cubicles, 14 electric power generators, large water storage tanks, assorted office furniture and fixtures and yet to be determined quantities of Permanent Voters’ Cards.

“The attention of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies has been drawn to the incident and have commenced investigation.

“Sadly, this is the third attack on our Local Government office in less than three weeks following similar attacks on our offices in Ogun and Osun States on 10th November 2022.”

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We haven’t endorsed Peter Obi, Dogara, aggrieved Northern APC

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Former House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and other members of the aggrieved Northern All Progressives Congress, APC camp have dismissed speculations that the group has endorsed the Obi-Datti presidency ahead of the 2023 general elections.

The group made the dismissal in a statement jointly-signed by Simon Achuba, Hon Albert Atiwurcha, Prof Doknan Sheni, Mela A. Nunge, SAN, Gen Ishaya Bauka Rtd, Prof Ibrahim Haruna and Mrs Leah Olusiyi.

Recall that the Chairman of the group and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, had said the group has endorsed the Labour Party presidential candidate, Obi and his running mate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed.

According to him, Obi was endorsed, after painstakingly reviewing and analysing the alternative candidates.

But, Dogara and other members of the group have distanced themselves from the endorsement, saying they are yet to conclude consultations and that their position will be made public.

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He said, “We want to draw the attention of the general public to the recent position canvassed by our Chairman, Engr B D Lawal as the position of our Group. We wish to state that necessary consultations have been concluded, and based on manifestly unassailable empirical data, the group is poised to adopt a position that will be made known to the public at an interfaith event to be held very soon.

“Suffices to say that no one in the group including the Chairman has been mandated to speak to the public about our position at this material time. Based on our modus Operandi, our position was meant to be presented to the general public at the event above referred to. That has not changed.

“Consequently, the decision to endorse a particular candidate and the statement credited to the chairman are solely the decision and views of the Chairman which he is absolutely entitled to but not that of the group. We hope this statement clears all the queries most of us have been inundated with on this all-important subject matter,” he added.

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