Sunday, March 7, 2021 12:18 am
By Senator Magnus Abe
On Friday, March 05, 2021, the Supreme Court of Nigeria handed down a series of judgments on the lingering crises in the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, the APC.
Their Lordships, in their judgments, held that the matters should not have been litigated in the first place but ought to have been resolved by the Leadership of the party, political parties being voluntary associations.
As law-abiding citizens with faith in our country, its Constitution and its Institution, especially as Nigeria’s Final Court, we accept the judgments of the Supreme Court in good faith.
The Court, by the judgments, sustained the Isaac Ogbobula Caretaker Executive Committee as the Executive Committee of the party in the State. We congratulate Barr. Ogbobula and his team and advise all our members with conflicting claims to any alternative structures, within the APC in the State to immediately drop all such claims and all alternate party offices in the name of APC across the State should revert to private use.
We extend our hand of fellowship to the Barr. Ogbobula’s EXCO and we wish them well.
However it is important for Nigerians and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), to remember, well and truly, that the crisis that engulfed the party was never about party structure which was actually not in dispute. It was rather, about the treatment meted out to party members who felt betrayed when the very reason for which they voluntarily joined the party in pursuit of justice, fairness and respect for their rights, were dismissed, with impunity, by the leadership.
Party members, you will all recall, who paid monies for forms were not only denied their rights to participate in the congresses contrary to the Constitution of the party and for which they parted with their monies for the forms, but were tear-gassed, and summarily excluded from all party activities and denied every privilege of membership. It was this exclusion and this treatment that led to the emergence of alternative structures within the party. The battle to establish their rights and have the APC to acknowledge its wrong-doing, led to the crises and to the Courts. The party, as all of us know, paid dearly, almost fatally, for this indiscretion. The rest, as they say, is history.
We agree with the Learned Justices that those issues cannot be finally and effectively resolved by the Courts for, the Courts, themselves, several times, pronounced on them, condemned the actions of the party, and acknowledged the injustice meted out to the members contrary to the Party’s own Rules and Norms. Indeed, all Courts in this Country, from the High Court to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, itself, pronounced on these issues, condemned them, yet every pronouncements of the Court ended in frustration as the party, to this day, has never acknowledged any wrong-doing neither has the summary exclusion and expulsion of party members been addressed. Indeed, the millions of Naria collected from the party members for the forms which were never issued to them after collecting their monies, remain with the party till this day.
While the Friday, March 05, 2021 pronouncements of the Supreme Court are now viewed, rightly, as conclusive on the issue of Party Structure, earlier pronouncements by the Courts, including the Supreme Court, have equally resolved, long before now, the originating issues of mistreatment of members with underhand tactics. It is for the party to possess the humility and political will to address these originating issues.
In the coming days and weeks, we will carefully watch the statements and actions and utterances of the party as it is the resolution of these issues that will bring lasting peace to the party and restore its standing, not only amongst its members, but also in the eyes of the Justice-loving Nigerian public especially Rivers men and women.
Finally, I want to thank members of the party who have been resolute in their demand for justice, fairness, and internal democracy within the party. It is clear that there are other political options to achieving our desires.
Let us remain united and open-minded. We are politicians. We are politicians. We are not against anyone but we must remain committed to our ideals. Time and History are on our side. You have fought a valiant, dogged battle for justice. Your sacrifice will not be in vain.
I urge you all to ignore the hatred and theatrics you see on social media. It is part of modern politics. The part, loss of the legal option is not a repudiation of your rights but a recognition of the reality which we all now know: that the party should treat its members with dignity and respect and according to its Constitution and Norms. We will do all we legitimately can to focus on working politically to ensure that our values are reflected across the political landscape.
I salute all the heroes of the titanic struggle and once more, I assure you that our faith in the God of justice remains unshakable.
Thank you and God bless.
Senator Magnus Ngei Abe.
Saturday, 5th March, 2021