Rivers APC Crisis; Abe Replies Issa-Onilu

…Describes Onilu’s Stance As Unfortunate, Ill-advised

The member representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe has described the statement credited to the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, with respect to the recent Supreme Court judgment on the crisis in Rivers APC as unfortunate.

…Describes Onilu’s Stance As Unfortunate, Ill-advised

The member representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe has described the statement credited to the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, with respect to the recent Supreme Court judgment on the crisis in Rivers APC as unfortunate.

Abe in a statement he personally issued on Friday and titled 'THE RIVERS STATE APC CRISIS, THE SUPREME COURT, AND KAIROS TIME.' said it is most unfortunate that Mallam Issa-Onilu has taken sides with a faction of the APC in Rivers State that is engaged in a needless battle of supremacy with the Nigerian Judiciary. 

Senator Abe's statement reads: "The statement credited to the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, wherein he stated inter Alia that “in view of the conflicting interpretations that greeted the recent verdict of the Supreme Court on the contentions among our members in the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), it has become necessary to clarify that the Supreme Court verdict has nothing to do with the primaries conducted for the governorship and legislative positions in the state” is clearly ill-advised and unfortunate.

"It is most unfortunate that the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has allowed himself to be sucked into the current battle of supremacy between a faction of the APC in Rivers state and the Nigerian Judiciary.

"First, there is no conflicting interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment, as the judgment of the Supreme Court was clear and unambiguous. In simple English, the Court stated clearly that the party was bound to obey the Orders of the Port Harcourt High Court per Worgu J. The court further stated that the APC having acted in gross disobedience of the Orders of the court, they should expect no relief from the courts. The Supreme Court chided the Court of Appeal in very strong terms for availing its powers to the APC, when the party was clearly in contempt of the orders of Worgu J. 

"The Supreme Court then proceeded to restore all the Orders of the High Court, in effect invalidating the congresses that produced the delegates that produced the candidates.

 "The Order restored by the Supreme Court was the Order of the High Court prohibiting the APC from proceeding with the congresses. There is no interpretation needed to understand the fact that the Supreme Court of Nigeria has stated clearly that congresses did not hold in Rivers state. 

Issa-Onilu

"How does that not affect the indirect primaries in which delegates from the voided congresses voted to produce the candidates?

"More shocking to all lovers of justice in Nigeria is the fact that while the statement made copious references to the Supreme Court Judgment, (because it claims that it did not nullify the primaries) the statement made no reference whatsoever to the High Court judgment of Worgu J which clearly nullified the APC primaries.

 "The judgment of Worgu J was served on the party by a Court Bailiff and for which there is an affidavit of service. Yet no reference was made to this judgment in the statement of the National Publicity Secretary. 

"This is clearly a case of the party choosing which judgment to interpret and which judgment to disobey.

 “The Judgment of Nworgu J made an order expressly cancelling the indirect primaries of the Rivers State APC, and until that Judgment is set aside that remains the position of the law in Nigeria. No statement can restore the candidates except another judgment from a superior court.

 "The Origin of the present crisis between the Judiciary and a faction of the APC in Rivers State arose out of the penchant of the erstwhile State Publicity Secretary of the party to set aside Court Orders by public statements on national television. 

“The current attempt by the National Publicity Secretary to set aside a judgment of the court by this public statement will equally fail.

 "Members of the APC in Rivers State will recollect that prior to the botched State congresses, an expanded state working committee of the party was summoned by the then State Chairman, Chief Ibiamu Ikanya on the 2nd of May, 2018.

 "At that meeting, we agreed on a formula to conduct the congresses of our party in an all-inclusive manner. Chief Ikanya based on consensus reached at that meeting set up a technical committee to work out the details of harmonization.

 "The arrival of the Minister of Transportation brought an end to the effort at reconciliation and harmony. The Congress was moved to INTELS camp in Port Harcourt, and those not perceived as loyal to the Minister were unceremoniously excluded. 

"It was this move that forced Ibrahim Umar and others to approach the courts. The case was initially filed in the Bori Division and transferred to Chief Judge of the state where it fortuitously landed in the court of Worgu J. Every Order made by the Judge to give the aggrieved members an opportunity to participate in the congresses was interpreted and overruled by the State Publicity Secretary of the party on national television. Indeed a physical attack was sponsored on the court premises to forcefully shut it down and prevent the State High Court from sitting on this matter.

 "This was a golden opportunity, lost by the APC as the party of change to distance itself from the culture of disrespect for the courts and continuously setting aside and ignoring Court Orders and judgments on national television, the very acts that the Supreme Court condemned in such strong terms.

"This morning I have sent a copy of the affidavit of service of the Judgment of Worgu J to the National Publicity Secretary.

 "Let me again assure members of the APC in Rivers State that the party conducted direct primaries in Rivers state, where over one hundred and forty-eight thousand members of our party voted, those elected therefrom are the only legal candidates for the APC in the 2019 elections in Rivers State, as there is a valid judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction that annulled the indirect primaries. The judgment is clear and unambiguously and requires no interpretation. We stand on that judgment.

"Members of the APC in Rivers State should remain calm; our determination to seek justice and ensure that the wishes of our party members are respected is not in any way affected by this statement. Our struggle will continue until justice is done.

"Kairos time is the appointed time. At the appointed time the God of justice will surely speak and every voice of injustice and oppression shall be still”.