APGA crisis: CJN’s letter signals imminent changes in candidates’ list
•Njoku Commends Supreme Court’s Recognition As Chairman
Indications of an imminent variation in the list of candidates submitted by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2023 general election emerged yesterday.
APGA had been embroiled in a protracted leadership crisis after its May 2019 national convention, leading to the existence of two rival factions, one led by Chief Edozie Njoku and the other under the former national chairman, Ozonkpu Victor Ike Oye.
Both factions conducted parallel special conventions that threw up different candidates ranging from presidential, National Assembly, gubernatorial and State Assembly contenders.
But the apex court has recognised Njoku as the authentic national chairman of APGA, intimating him of the final processes leading to the enrolment order of the court through a letter by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwola.
In the letter, which was signed by the Chief Registrar, Hajo Sarki Bello, dated January 19, 2023, the apex court acknowledged the receipt of Njoku’s letter praying the apex court to authentic corrections in the judgment on SC/CV/687/2021.
Part of the letter read: “I am directed by the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 7th day of October, 2022, wherein by way of a letter to the Honourable Justice Mary Peter Odili, JSC rtd., you requested for a correction of a slip at page 13 lines 3-4 of the judgment (in which the name of Chief Victor Oye was erroneously mentioned instead of Chief Edozie Njoku, the actual suspended Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
“What you ought to have done is to bring an application pursuant to Order 8 Rule 16 of the Rules of this Court seeking to correct the accidental slip in the judgment.”
Reacting to the development, Njoku commended the Supreme Court for recognising his position as the party chairman, remarking that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ariwola and other eminent apex court Justices have prevented the attempts by desperate politicians to put Nigeria’s judiciary into international infamy.
He stated: “We wish to thank the Nigerian Judiciary, especially the Supreme Court for laying to rest the dispute over the leadership of APGA.
“The Court had long settled the matter by acknowledging the SC/CV/687/2021, which the Suit instituted by Chief Edozie Njoku against Chief Jude Okeke on the Jigawa issue. But the desperation of some overzealous politicians, led by Chief Ike Oye, who was not party to the suit, occasioned this delay.”
Also, the APGA presidential candidate on Njoku’s leadership, Chief Chekwas Okorie, said: “Njoku has been vindicated by the Supreme Court that when he presented a corrected judgment dated 9th of May 2002, he was right, he was factual and INEC being a party to the suit also got the same corrected judgment served on them.”
Regretting that INEC’s vacillation on the matter has made APGA to lose some vital time to join campaigns, Okorie, who is also the founding chairman stated: “Election campaign started formally on the 28th of September 2022 and APGA has been excluded from participating up to this moment.
“This letter has now come from the Supreme Court recognising Edozie Njoku as the national chairman of the party and now advising to approach them by way of this application, a letter that ought to have been written long ago.”
As to whether the party would apply for postponement of the election, Okorie said: “INEC can no longer have any justification whatsoever to continue to deny the authentic APGA led by Chief Edozie Njoku as national chairman from active and full participation in the process except INEC is determined to jeopardise the 2023 election.
“I am the presidential candidate; the National Working Committee definitely will seek the advice of very informed legal opinion to do what it has to do. But INEC should also consider what disadvantage it has placed APGA by its recalcitrance and find a way to reduce the damage.
“I don’t think it will help any party including the Nigerian people that are so expectant of this election any good to take the matter back to court and support to suspend further action until APGA is fully accommodated. I think INEC ought to be proactive now in spite of the fact that they were very active in the conspiracy against APGA,” Okorie stated.