Party chairmanship: Oshiomhole triggers war between APC, PDP

Crises over soon, as party officials allay fears over Okorocha-led appeal panel •Bini council backs Oshiomhole as PDP urges him to clear allegations in petition to EFCC •Magnus Abe’s faction grabs Rivers APC exco •Shape of APC Unity List out tomorrow as Tinubu’s candidates face pressure LAGOS —The All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, were last night engaged in a war of words over the appropriateness of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole emerging as chairman of the ruling party in the country. Oshiomhole The brickbats came as the APC yesterday assured followers that fears of violence and a split emerging during this weekend’s national convention were far-fetched. Even more, senior party officials also dismissed as a storm in a tea cup fears that the Governor Rochas Okorocha-led Appeals Panel could torpedo the screening process by disqualifying perceived political rivals who had scaled the hurdles of the Governor Aminu Masari-led screening panel. Assurances notwithstanding, the party continued to tear at the seams as the crisis that has enveloped its chapter in Rivers State worsened yesterday after the Senator Magnus Abe-led tendency cited legal loopholes to make a grab for the structure of the party from Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi. Bini National Council wades in, backs Oshiomhole The exchange of brickbats between the APC and the PDP came after the Bini National Council, a socio-cultural organization in Edo State, accused the PDP in state of sponsoring the recent petition addressed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC against Comrade Oshiomhole. The BNC said the move by the PDP allegedly came out of fear that the emergence of Oshiomhole could permanently wipe the PDP out of reckoning in Edo State and at the national level. The BNC assertions came upon the court action instituted by Bishop Osadolor Ochei against the EFCC for an order of mandamus for the anti-graft commission to investigate allegations of misappropriation of funds it alleged against Oshiomhole in a petition he articulated. Addressing journalists in Benin City yesterday, Legal and Logistic Officer of the BNC, Arc. Oduwa Igbinoghene, said the plaintiff in the court action against the EFCC for the investigation of Oshiomhole was “a known political jobber acting from the kitchen of his master who was frustrated since he lost the election to rule Edo State.” Addressing some of the issues raised by Osadolor, the group said: “If any of these things were true, under President Goodluck Jonathan they would have arrested his commissioners. This is just their last-minute battle. “We recall that in 2012, the PDP went to take a snapshot of a house owned by Drake, an American artist, describing it as Oshiomhole’s country home in Iyamho, his village, claiming the building cost N10 billion. They tried to deceive innocent citizens but that plot failed. “Now the PDP and their agents made so much noise about Oshiomhole’s property in Benin, at Okorotun and that building we are aware reflected in the former governor’s asset declaration, including the source of funding. “When the fact remains that Oshiomhole, even as a former President of the NLC, for eight years and two terms governor of Edo State, didn’t even have a house like that anywhere in the world. “Not only that, they (PDP) are facing trial for money laundering, they have cases pending in other courts. “But we want to state categorically that no amount of blackmail will derail the chances of Oshiomhole because God and stakeholders of the APC have said he is the next national chairman of the APC.” Edo APC fingers PDP Speaking also, the state Secretary of the APC, Lawrence Okah, asserted that “we are aware of the meeting the PDP held at the residence of a chieftain of the party where they planned that they would embark on campaign of calumny against Oshiomhole this week because they are scared he is going to emerge as the next national chairman of the APC. “But they are only deceiving themselves because they can never resurrect in Edo State anymore, very sad for them, because whether they like it or not by this time Saturday Oshiomhole is the next chairman of APC by the grace of God”. Oshiomhole should clear himself — Edo PDP Reacting to the assertions, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, Edo State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, said: “Oshiomhole should go and clear his name rather than dragging the PDP into the matter. “We have no hand in it; so they should stop calling PDP. The gentleman that spoke had evidence to buttress his point so it has nothing to do with PDP.” Expect an anti-climax, says Abdullahi Meanwhile, leaders of the APC were yesterday moving to assure the grassroots of the integrity of the party in the face of contending forces angling for supremacy in the forthcoming convention of the party this weekend. National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, in an interview with Vanguard said sceptics will be shocked that the party would come out united after a peaceful convention. “People will be shocked that all the crises and confusion that they have been talking about will turn into an anti-climax this weekend. In fact, you can take it to the market that the convention will be very peaceful,” Abdullahi said yesterday. “People looking for trouble to report will find out that there will be no trouble to report, you can quote me,” Abdullahi added. A party corroborating the assertion also said yesterday: “By Wednesday the governors will meet to develop a unity list and once they do that I can assure you that we are going to have a rancour-free convention.” The source also dismissed fears that the Governor Okorocha-led Appeals Committee could disqualify candidates for party positions that were not disqualified by the Governor Masari-led screening committee. “If somebody did not have problems with the screening committee, is Governor Okorocha going to initiate action against the person when he or she does not have problems? All that he is to do is to receive appeals from those who had problems with the screening committee; there is no way he can do otherwise,” the source revealed yesterday. Magnus Abe’s faction grabs Rivers APC exco Meanwhile, the crisis rocking the Rivers State chapter of the party yesterday deepened with the emergence of a factional executive with Prince Peter Odike as acting chairman. Odike, a former deputy chairman in the immediate past executive of the party, loyal to Senator Abe, said he had upon the judicial annulment of the recent congresses taken over the chairmanship of the party in the absence of the substantive chairman who he claimed is hospitalised. He insisted that his executive will submit a statutory delegates’ list to the national body for the convention, adding that there were no congresses in the state. Odike noted that with the annulment of the result of the congress by a court of competent jurisdiction, the Ojukaye Flag-Amachree executives ceases to exist. Odike said: “With the voiding of the Ojukaye Flag-Amachree midnight congress, our State Working Committee which they sought to succeed is still in place and intact. “In one sentence: we are the State Working Committee and exco of the APC in Rivers State. This is the main reason we have called you (the press). Our party cannot be in any administrative vacuum. “Since the court has decided that no congresses have been held with the voiding of the so-called congresses, the Dr. Davies Ikanya led-exco will continue with its works of running the party. “The chairman, Davies Ikanya, is in London, UK, for medical examination and treatment. By the party constitution, the Deputy Chairman acts pending his resumption. I and other executives of the party have met and we have agreed that we will not allow the party to die. “Consequently, I announce to you this morning that, I Prince Peter Odike, JP, the Deputy Chairman of the party in Rivers State, pending the return and resumption of duty by the chairman, is the Acting Chairman of the APC, Rivers State.” Odike also stated that the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi remains the leader of the party in the state, calling on all members of the party to toe the path of constitutionalism and adherence to law and order. However, the party’s legal adviser, Mr. Chieme Chinweikpe, noted that the executive of the party would make and submit the delegates’ list from the state for the national convention of the party, adding that Flag-Amachree’s group lacks the legal powers to produce the list, since it does not exist in the eyes of the law. He said: “What is void does not exist. Court has barred APC Ojukaye from being the party chairman. They will contaminate the conference if they allow Ojukaye’s list to be submitted. “The constitution of the party says anywhere the Congress fails, the executives of the party become the statutory delegates. All the party organs will serve as delegates for the congress. “The statutory delegates remain the executives of the party and we will participate in the Congress. The law will reconcile any issue that may arise in the course of it.” Meanwhile, the Publicity Secretary of the Ojukaye-led APC, Chris Finebone, in reaction maintained that the party in the state was led by Hon. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, under the leadership of Chibuike Amaechi, describing Odike and others as living in house of exile. Fine bone said: “What happened this morning is a classic case of delusion of grandeur. It is like climbing the tallest building in town and proclaiming, ‘I am now the Pope Francis of the Catholic Church, all Catholics must recognise me’, “Sadly, that is not how the world works except in the world of the kindergarten that play in the sand. We wish them well in their house of exile. “Be informed that not even an eventual creation of a faction of the party in Rivers State which they have been struggling to achieve will get them anywhere. They should ponder this deeply.”

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