President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday declared his support for aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress who opted to sue the party over their grievances against the party.
The President said the courts remained the last option for the amicable resolution of disputes, hence he insisted that the party must allow aggrieved members to fully explore their democratic and legal rights.
The APC has been battling post-primary election crises amid fears that the development may adversely affect its chances at the 2019 polls.
The crises have led to court cases instituted by aggrieved members against the party.
Reacting to the court cases, the National Working Committee of the APC, led by the party’s National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, issued strong warnings to members that dragged the party to court, asking them to withdraw their cases or face sanctions.
But Buhari on Monday, according to a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, expressed his support for the members that had approached courts over their grievances.
The statement quoted Buhari as saying, “We can’t deliberately deny people of their rights. We agreed that party primaries should be conducted either through direct, indirect or consensus method, and if anyone feels unjustly treated in the process, such a person can go to court.
“The court should always be the last resort for the dissatisfied. For the party to outlaw the court process is not acceptable to me.”
Buhari, who also cited the threat issued by the National Working Committee of the APC last week, said he did not agree with the position of the party’s leadership.
Buhari’s stand on Monday contradicted a directive of the National Working Committee, which asked the aggrieved aspirants to withdraw their court suits.
The APC NWC had on November 19 ordered its members to withdraw the court cases filed against the party or face sanctions.
The APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a statement after the NWC emergency meeting on November 19,said the party intended to activate constitutional provisions to penalise such members as their action was capable of undermining the party and hurt the party’s interest.
He had said, “The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress has frowned upon the actions of some party members who have resorted to litigation as a way of addressing their perceived grievances without exhausting the party’s dispute resolution mechanism.
“This growing trend is viewed by the party as a manifest indiscipline. The action, it should be noted, is considered as anti-party as it goes against our party’s constitution.
For emphasis, according to Article 20, Subsection 10 of our party’s constitution, offences against the party include the following: “Filing an action in a court of law against the party or any of its officers on any matters relating to the discharge of the duties of the party without first exhausting all avenues for redress provided for in this constitution.”
“The Party intends to activate constitutional provisions to penalise such members as their action is capable of undermining the party and hurt the party’s interest.”
The NWC gave the warning a few days after constituting a reconciliation committee to mediate in disputes involving all aggrieved persons in the primaries of the party.
The committees were set up on a geopolitical basis with seven members each, including governors elected on the platform of the party.
But Buhari insisted that he did not agree with the party.
The President however clarified that the power to constitute such committees remained with the party as the only body so authorised to do so.
“President Buhari has also advised members to work with the reconciliation committees empanelled for the six geopolitical zones by the APC, and not a purported Presidential Committee on Reconciliation, stressing that the party is the only body authorised to constitute such committees,” the Presidency stated.
Nwosu hails Buhari, says Oshiomhole ruling APC like company CEO
Commenting on the President’s statement, a former Chief of Staff to the Imo State Governor and the controversial winner of the October 6 APC governorship primary in the state, Uche Nwosu, commended Buhari for asking aggrieved aspirants in the party to go to court.
In an interview with one of correspondents, Nwosu said, “I salute President Muhammadu Buhari for this statement. This has shown that his integrity is intact .”
“Oshiomhole should not be running APC like a CEO of company. He is dishing out APC tickets to his cronies. In Imo he gave it to Abuja-based politicians who are not on the ground.”
“This is why we should return President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.His integrity is not in doubt.”
Delta factional chairman welcomes development
Also, the factional chairman of the APC in Delta State, Chief Cyril Ogodo, said the President’s statement had vindicated those who were being oppressed by Oshiomhole.
Ogbodo, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “We are delighted that the leader of our great party and President of this great country has once again set the order right; putting to an end the injustice many of us are facing in the hands of Oshiomhole’s leadership.
He added that over 80 per cent of members of the APC in the state were patiently waiting for a court judgment that would put to an end the crisis in the state chapter of the party.
“Oshiomhole took over power and he sees himself as the alpha and omega of the APC in Nigeria, forgetting that we both joined the party the same day. I know our president is a man who will always stand on the side of justice. He is a man who will always want the law to take its course. Now, you beat a child and you do not want the child to cry.
“I was inaugurated by the former national chairman but he came in and pushed me out without the pronouncement of any court.
“In a democratic setting, once a man has been sworn in, any aggrieved person will go to court but this was not done in my case, rather, another person was sworn in and you said I should not go to court.
“Before going to court, I wrote about 50 letters to Oshiomhole and these letters were copied to other 20 members of the NWC. No one will claim ignorance that we did not exhaust the internal mechanism before going to court. So, for anyone to say we have not complied with Article 20 of the APC Constitution is a lie. The internal mechanisms in our case were long exhausted. They were exhausted in July/August”, Ogodo stated.
Aggrieved APC group in Katsina backs Buhari
Spokesman for Akida group in Katsina APC, Mr Abba Machika, on Monday night hailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration that any aggrieved member of the party could seek redress in court.
The group had kicked against the governorship primary that produced the incumbent Governor, Aminu Masari, as the candidate of the party.
Machika told The Punch on the phone that Buhari had spoken as a true democrat, adding that there was nothing else to add to the declaration.
Machika said, “There is nothing else to add to what the President has said.