Sunday, 28 June 2015

Fear Grip #APC over #Benue Governor- ship Seat

The National Working Committee, NWC of the All Progressives Congress, APC has held two emergency meetings within four days in a desperate bid to resolve the crisis rocking the Benue State chapter of the party. The problem, a complex legal web is currently threatening to unseat the state governor, Dr Samuel Ortom.

It was gathered that because of the dispute on who the authentic governorship candidate of APC was in the recently concluded general elections and the court case instituted by Hon Emmanuel Jime who was in January adopted as the party’s consensus candidate, Senator JKN Waku, and others at the Federal High Court, Abuja in suit number FHC/ ABJ/ CS/1057/14, the PDP had gone to the Benue governorship election petition tribunal in Makurdi to claim that APC had no candidate at the time of the election and as such, its candidate Terhemen Tarzoor be declared winner of the poll.

The PDP through its governorship candidate, Hon. Terhemen Tarzoor in its pe¬tition number EPT/BEN/ GOV/01/26 is asking that it be declared winner of the guber poll with a total of 313,878 votes. The request is based on their claim that APC, though scored the highest 422,932 votes, did not have an authentic candidate for the election.

Faced with the danger of losing the party’s electoral victory to the PDP, the APC’s National Legal Adviser, Dr Muiz Banire was said to have last week drawn the attention of the party’s leadership to the imbroglio through a letter addressed to its National Chairman, Chief John Odigie- Oyegun.

According to the letter dated June 17, 2015 and entitled- “Re: Legal tussle over the governorship seat of Benue State: a call for urgent action,” a copy of which was sighted in Oyegun’s office at the party’s headquarters in Abuja, the legal adviser urged the leader¬ship to step into the matter be¬fore the party is embarrassed by a judicial pronouncement.
“Please recall that after the emergence of Dr. Ortom Samuel Ioraer as the governorship candidate of our party for the April 11, 2015, governorship election in Benue State, other governorship candidates who felt aggrieved by his emergence, protested against the alleged non-compliance with the provisions of our party’s constitution and guidelines for the conduct of primaries. Eventually, four of the governorship candidates jointly commenced an action in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1057/2014 by which they challenged the process of the emergence of Dr. Ortom Samuel Ioraer as the party’s governorship can¬didate. This suit is still pending in court.
“It is equally imperative to draw your attention to the fact that, upon the conclusion of the election, the PDP candidate filed a petition challenging the election of Dr. Ortom Samuel Ioraer. Part of the grounds of the petition for challenging the election is that the process, which produced Dr. Ortom Samuel Ioraer as our party’s candidate, breached the provisions of the Electoral Act. To substantiate his petition, the petitioner is also relying on several documents which the Plaintiffs in Suit No: FHC/ ABJ/CS/1057/2014 pleaded in support of their case.
“Mr. Chairman, there are grave issues which are at the root of this impasse which I have constrained myself from revealing through this medium but which I shall share when the leaders of the party are gathered. Suffice however to say that with the present happenings in the various courts, we may be endangering that seat in favour of the opposition People’s Democratic Party.
“It is in the light of the fore¬going that I humbly advise that the party considers setting up a high-powered panel to intervene in this Benue State impasse urgently with a view to reconciling all the parties and saving our party from public opprobrium,” the letter read in part.
One of the APC leaders from Benue, Tor Gowon Yaro had earlier written a letter to the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu intimating him about the legal moves that could rob the party of the Benue governorship seat if urgent interventions are not made.
The letter written by Yaro urged Tinubu to rally other party leaders and abort an imminent unpleasant judicial pronouncement that will em¬barrass the party.
In his words: “Kindly indulge me, Your Excellency, to draw your attention to the dire situation our great party has been plunged into in Benue State due to the illegal selection of our governorship candidate. As I write, some aggrieved governorship aspirants are pressing on in court in suits filed against the party, while the PDP has equally filed a different suit to take advantage of this crisis and claim that the APC had no candidate in the April 11, 2015 governorship election in the state. Both suits, no doubt, portend great danger for the electoral success re¬corded by the APC and the image of our party.
“Having seen this ahead, you will recall Asiwaju that early in January 2015, I drew your attention to the emerging crisis in Benue APC over the selection of our governorship candidate. As a result, you had called for a meeting of all governorship aspirants and some stakeholders involved in the dispute, a parley, which held at the Lagos House, Abuja on the 11th January, 2015.
“At the meeting held under your able chairmanship with the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun as well as other prominent leaders of the party in attendance, the following resolutions were proposed, debated and voted upon to adopt a consensus and signed by all the governorship aspirants, with myself as a fa¬cilitator:
“That Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Jime be and is hereby adopted as the APC consensus gu¬bernatorial candidate for the 2015 gubernatorial election in Benue State.
“That the APC national sec¬retariat be and is hereby put on notice and informed of this consensus arrangement. That the APC national secretariat may wish to forward the name of Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Jime to INEC as the gubernatorial candidate for the 2015 gubernatorial election in Benue State.
That these resolutions be forwarded to the APC national secretariat and INEC for the necessary action.
“Four clear months after this agreement was reached, it is disheartening to note that these resolutions are yet to be implemented and in my opinion, based on critical le¬gal opinions sought, this development constitutes a grave risk to our party’s chances in Benue State, notwithstanding a favourable outcome of the gubernatorial election.”
While drawing the party leader’s attention to what may likely be the outcome of the ongoing court cases, Yaro said: “If party leaders decide to close their eyes to the ugly development in Benue, the consequences will be too ex-pensive and painful for all to bear after a sweet success at the polls.
“No court will close its eyes to the overwhelming evidence establishing the fact that no gubernatorial primary elec-tion held in Benue State as stipulated in Section 87 (1), (2), (3) and 4 (b) 1&11 of the Amended Electoral Act 2011. A protest letter dated December 12, 2014, addressed to the National Chairman, HE John Oyegun and endorsed by four out of the five APC governorship aspirants in Benue State, namely; Messrs Emmanuel Jime, Mike Iordye, Joseph Waku and Steve Ugbah attests to this. In addition to this, a report by the Babade Olukolade-led Electoral Commit¬tee on the Monitoring of the APC Gubernatorial Primary in Benue State held on the 5th December, 2014 at the IBB Square, Makurdi further confirms this.”
He added that: “Further silence by national leaders of the party on this brazen robbery on internal democracy will not only rubbish the gains made so far by the party but will equally dent the integrity of the incoming Muhammadu Buhari administration and worse still, sow a seed of discord similar to the one that ultimately led to the downfall of the ruling PDP at the state and federal levels.”
On the way out of the crisis, he advised: “The only solution I can proffer to this crisis is to revert to the resolution ad¬opted by all the five bona fide APC governorship aspirants at the meeting held at Lagos House, Abuja on January 11, 2015. This will save the party of any painful and embarrass¬ing judicial pronouncement and ultimately heal all wounds and entrench unity among par¬ty members as well as leaders in Benue State.”
“I am, therefore, as a very concerned member of our great party and stakeholder in Benue State, calling on you and the leadership of the party, to urgently act so as to guide against an irreparable occurrence that may embarrass our great party in Benue State,” the APC chieftain added.
Commenting on the development, former Lagos police commissioner and prominent Benue leader, Abubakar Tsav blamed a former governor of the state, Senator George Akume for the crisis. He said what has happened to Akume in the Senate is a well-deserved reward for the seed of confusion he sowed back home.
In his words “What is happening in the Nigerian Senate, reminds me of the tragedy of Macbeth, where it was said that, and I quote: ‘This even-handed justice commends the ingredients of my poisoned chalice to my own lips.’
“The battle for Senate presidency and principal of¬ficers of the Senate had been fought and lost. How does Sen George Akume feel about this?
‘Do unto others what you would like others to do unto you.’ That is the golden rule.
“It will be recalled that Sen George Akume ignored the principles of fair play and internal democracy to impose candidates of his own choice during the APC primaries in Benue State. As a result, some of these aggrieved candidates who were shortchanged, presumably on the basis of the highest bidders, are now in court. The game is over, I advise the emperor to return home and impose mediocres on his puppet for appointment as commissioners, and arrange how they are going to create wings for the borrowed N10 billion to fly away. “

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