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Factional crisis in Cross River APC threatens LG polls

By Anietie Akpan, Calabar
10 January 2020   |   3:33 am
The factional crisis in All Progressives Congress (APC) party in Cross River State is far from over as the Elder Etim John and Sir John Ochala-led executives are at each other’s jugular over the forthcoming local government elections in the state.

The factional crisis in All Progressives Congress (APC) party in Cross River State is far from over as the Elder Etim John and Sir John Ochala-led executives are at each other’s jugular over the forthcoming local government elections in the state. At last year’s election, both sides battled over supremacy leading to its abysmal performance at the polls even when the Appeal Court had declared the Ochalla group as the authentic executive. 

To date, both sides still run separate offices in Calabar. While the Ochalla group maintains the known APC office at Okoi Arikpo Estate at Barracks Road, John’s group has a new office on Marian Road by Akim Close in State Housing. 

Now, as the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission (CROSIEC) plans council polls for March, the factional state working committee of APC, led by John has accused the Ochalla-led executive of plans to disrupt the council polls.

A statement signed by the factional APC Secretary, Francis Ekpeyong, said, “We are aware that some dissident groups in our party had taken (CROSIEC) to court over the conduct of local government elections in Cross River State. The Etim John-led State Working Committee, which is legal and authentic, wishes to dissociate itself completely from this illegal matter in court in the name of our party.

“We hereby urge CROSIEC and relevant stakeholders to continue to keep faith in our desire to conduct free, fair, and credible polls, which is the accepted norm in our electoral system nationwide.”

The state’s CROSIEC had fixed March 2020 as the date for local government elections in the state after about three years of non-conduct of local polls in the state.

He said, “For the avoidance of doubt, this same dissident group had taken (CROSIEC) to court for non-conduct of local polls and when an attempt is made to conduct elections at that tier of government, they will go to truncate the exercise through frivolous petitions. We appeal to our supporters to cooperate with the electoral umpire to enthrone democratically elected chairmen at that tier of government, which is the wishes of our people.”
In a reaction, the State Publicity Secretary of the Ochalla-led faction, which is recognised by the national headquarters of the party, Mr. Bassey Ita, dismissed John’s faction’s stance, saying, “against the backdrop of the forthcoming local government elections in the state some persons have devised new means of defrauding their unsuspecting victims in the guise of acting as legitimate officials of our great party in Cross River State.

“One of such criminal exploits of these persons is while posing as the legitimate executive committee of the party, commenced the sale of nomination forms for the aforesaid elections, and carry out other activities relevant to the elections within party parameters. Besides, these same persons have also chosen to embark on wild propaganda and deliberate falsehood in the guise of representing the party’s interest before the eyes of the public. We have come to terms with the fact that at a highly political time, such tendencies will rear their heads ostensibly to seek cheap scores of recognition.

“Unfortunately, such scores are taking a criminal look as the said persons have only impersonated the party and parading selves as what they’re actually not.

“For emphasis and for the benefit of unsuspecting members of the public, we wish to point out that the legitimacy of the true representatives of the party was again accentuated following the correspondence issued by the national leadership of the party and as signed by the National Chairman of our party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to all agencies and organizations relevant to elections matters.

“The said correspondence established and affirmed the legitimacy of the Sir John Ochala-led exco arising ostensibly from the August 22, 2018, fresh congress which the national leadership ordered on the strength of an initial crisis that had engulfed the party.”

He continued, “A comprehensive list of the entire exco across the various strata or chapter of the party was also attached to the correspondence for public notice. Incidentally, only last week some impostors rose to attempt dislodgement of the plan of the party to succeed in the elections. The said persons held that the party was planning to disrupt the elections.

“This is, however, not true. It’s a deliberate falsehood ostensibly made by the said persons to seek cheap relevance. The said elements are a bunch of impersonators, who are looking for a lifeline, the kinda drowning man would seek in the face of unfortunate challenges. Their desire to create a phantom crisis where none exists within the party so as to enable them to whip up considerations that massage their ego has, unfortunately for them, crashed like a pack of cards.

“Today as we speak, there are no crises or factions within the APC in Cross River State, and so, nobody should be speaking differently from the party’s unitary position. The said impostors only qualify for incarceration for the deliberate falsehood, and the very act of impersonation and of an attempt to breach public peace.”

“INEC, CROSIEC, the police, DSS and others are conversant with the correspondence emerging from the national leadership of the party on the legitimacy of the state’s leadership. We are sure that the aforementioned organizations would not renege on the idea of sustaining that legitimacy.

“In this wise, we urge that these impersonators should be fished out and summarily arrested and prosecuted in the overall public interest.

CROSIEC should disregard correspondence(s) from these persons as such do not represent the true position of the party.”

The National Chairman of the APC, Oshiomhole, had, in a letter dated November 29, 2019, to INEC, declared the Ochalla faction as the legitimate executive of APC, saying, “We wish to inform that there is no discrepancy concerning the list of members of the State Executive Committee of our great party, the APC in Cross River State.”