APC crisis: Attack on Oyegun backfires as NWC member threatens to sue

By Our Correspondent

EXCLUSIVE – #TrackNigeria – The crisis  rocking the All Progressives Congress, APC has not abated  as  party chiefs are evidently still furious over National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole’s leadership style.

In fact, Newsdiary Online has obtained documents which  show that the APC crisis is  indeed  deepening. It is understood from facts contained in one of such documents  that  National Working  Committee member and National Vice Chairman (North  West)  Mallam Inuwa Abdulkadir, who felt maligned by the National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa –Onilu has called for  retraction of his recent assertions  or face legal action. Issa-Onilu  made some damning claims against Chief  John Odigie Oyegun-led NWC, a development that appears to have backfired now with this threat of legal action   rocking the party.

Newsdiary Online further learnt that the  deepening crisis is essentially  a fallout of the recent call by, Lawal Shuaibu, deputy national chairman,that the party’s national chairman, Oshiomhole should resign.That call itself was largely anchored on the  chaotic state of the party during the last primaries and the general elections.

In a leaked letter,Shuaibu reportedly told Oshiomhole some bitter truths just as he  picked holes in his leadership style. According  the deputy national chairman, “We had 23 states in 2015, but after the 2019 elections we lost seven states! We also had 60 senators in 2015 at the end of the elections; we now end up with 57 senators in 2019! You were not brought in to lose election. It is absolutely unacceptable!

“It is my honest opinion that your ability to ensure this party flourishes is deficient as you lack the necessary composure and you also don’t possess the capabilities and the requisite experience to run a political party” Shuaibu said.

It was Issa-Onilu’s rejoinder to this leaked  letter by Shuaibu that has given rise to a fresh source of trouble for the party as Abdulkadir has taken exception to the national publicity secretary’s claims.One of the documents Newsdiary Online has seen is a letter  from Abdulkadir to Issa-Onilu.The letter dated 9th July 2019 is titled: “Defamation of my character and reputation – demand for retraction of, apology and compensation.”

Abdulkadir ,according to the letter said, “My attention had been drawn by several persons to statements credited to you in the course of making a rejoinder to a personal letter written by the Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu to the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress(hereinafter referred to simply as the Party), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

“In the said rejoinder, as published in various Newspapers and other social media, you were credited with making the following statements concerning Chief John E. Odigie-Oyegun, former National Chairman of the Party and the entire members of National Working Committee (NWC) of the party that served with him –

“ ‘The Adams Oshiomhole-led All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday said the party lost some states to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) due to the indiscipline and inaction of the National Working Committee (NWC) under Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.  The APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in an interview with journalists, said ….the former NWC led by Chief Odigie-Oyegun lacked the courage to confront the political despots who could not operate by the party’s rules.

‘The resultant effect, he said, was widespread indiscipline across party ranks, lack of respect for party supremacy as witnessed in the 8th National Assembly leadership and its overall inability to align the interests of the legacy parties that formed the APC in 2014. “Let me agree that the NWC that led the party into the 2015 elections and continued till June 2018 did nothing different from what you would find in PDP. It was a period the party was seen as a mere vehicle to attain political office. The system accommodated impunity as certain members appeared to be superior to the party. Their interests were far more important than the collective interests of the APC, even when most times such interests are at variance with the ideals the party stand for. “You would recall that it was under that leadership that some impudent members of APC called the bluff of the party by imposing themselves on the National Assembly as leaders contrary to the position of the party. Where was the party? Where was the discipline when this happened? It would be difficult to calculate what lack of courage to assert the party supremacy cost APC over that period.’’

“ ‘It is not surprising that the current National Working Committee inherited such a huge mess, where the party was struggling to differentiate itself from the delinquent PDP…”  (culled from Daily Trust June 5, 2019).”

The NWC member added, “I had the honor and privilege of being a member of the NWC of the Party at all material times Chief John Oyegun was the National Chairman of the Party so I would be correct to assume that I am included in the NWC which you have condemned and portrayed in above quoted statements credited to you as condoning or breeding irresponsibility within the rank and file of the Party.

“Your statements above no doubt do carry the apparent implication/inference and, indeed were understood as such by all who read them, that all of us who were members of the National Working Committee with Chief John Oyegun are irresponsible persons/officers who are lack in discipline, character and pedigree to hold the offices they occupied by virtue of which were members of the NWC of the Party.

“The said publication has greatly lowered my estimation in the eyes right-thinking members of the society and brought me to underserved public contempt, ridicule and odium.

“I have no doubt that the statements you made were on your own volition and deliberately done using your position as the Acting National Publicity Secretary to give it official colouration.  I so hold this position because I am a member of the current National Working Committee (NWC) led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. I was duly elected at the National Convention of the Party and interestingly, twelve (12) of us out of the twenty-one (21) members of the current NWC served in the Chief John Oyegun-led NWC and I know as a matter of fact that at no material time did the current NWC or any organ of the Party meet and consider the tenure of the Chief John Oyegun-led NWC and make conclusions as contained in your statements either before or after your appointment as the Acting National Publicity Secretary of the Party.

The NWC who onced served as a Minister said “Now, it is my firm belief that you are quite aware that, apart from my being a politician, I am first and foremost a legal practitioner of several years standing at the Bar, holder of the prestigious traditional title of “Magatakarda Babba” bestowed on me by His Eminence, the late Sultan of Sokoto – Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido, the 19th Sultan of Sokoto 23 years ago. 

“It would also interest you to know that that I have national and international profile/image to protect/preserve by virtue of the various positions that I have held as well as my membership of national and international organizations some of which are:-

Formerly Secretary, Sultanate Council, Sokoto;Formerly Deputy Secretary-General, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF);FormerlySokoto State Gubernatorial Candidate of National Democratic Party(NDP);Formerly Vice-Presidential Candidate of People Progressives Alliance (PPA); FormerlySokoto State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Member of  Sokoto State Executive Council; Formerly Minister of Youth Development and Member, Federal Executive Council of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;Member, Nigerian Bar Association and Formerly Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association Sokoto Branch.

He also  listed being “Life Council Member African Bar Association; Member, International Bar Association; Member, Common Wealth Lawyers Association; Life Member, Body of Benchers, Federal Republic of Nigeria; Formerly Member, Council of Legal Education; National Vice-Chairman, All Progressives Congress, APC (North West), etc; Pro-Chancellor Sokoto State University, Sokoto Chairman Governing Council, NAFDAC.”

Abdulkadir argued further that “From my abridged profile thereof, you will agree with me that the malicious, false and unfounded publication under reference which has in fact gone virile on traditional and social media has caused incalculable or irreparable damage to my character, reputation and personality both within and outside the shores of Nigeria having portrayed me as an irresponsible and undisciplined person/officer not fit to manage political and other offices and duties in breach of my constitutional right to personal dignity as guaranteed by section 34(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“Against this background, and merely for the purpose of mitigating the injuries you have unjustly brought upon me as a result of the said publication, I hereby demand of you to take the following remedial measures with immediate effect viz:-

“A retraction of the publication under reference in three newspapers in circulation throughout Nigeria including Daily Trust Newspapers; same to also be posted online and on social media.

“An unreserved apology to be tendered by you to me for the said malicious, false and unfounded publication which apology should also be published in three newspapers of circulation throughout Nigeria including Daily Trust Newspapers; same to also be posted online and on social media.

“Payment of the sum of N500,000,000.00 (Five Hundred Million Naira) as monetary compensation to me for the damages suffered by our client as a result of the said publication.

“Compliance with the demands in (1) – (3) above within 7 (seven) days from the date of this letter.

Now the clincher: the NWC member  warned, “I should caution that in the event you default in reacting positively to these demands I shall have no other option than to institute legal proceedings against you before a court of law to seek redress with a view to redeeming my reputation and character as much possible/practicable as well claim substantial monetary damages against you in respect thereof. I, however, earnestly hope that you would exercise reasonable judgment in this matter and save us all the embarrassment of litigation.”

Insiders told Newsdiary Online that there has been  a great deal of surprise over  some of the remarks by Issa-Onilu . “He ought to be calm, humble because he was not even elected.He was appointed” a party chief said.He added also that there was no time a decision was taken to attack the Oyegun led leadership by the NWC.Even more, the insider observed, that there are still more NWC members from the Oyegun era in place, “how can we  now be accused of lacking discipline?” he asked.

But in what appears like an attempt to hit back  at Abdulkadir, the party  has also set up a committee to  probe his alleged “misconduct and disloyalties”. Another  document seen by Newsdiary Online,  contains a reply by Abdulkadir  to Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Deputy National Chairman of the party.

In the document, Abdulkadir reminded Adebayo  of “our telephone conversation in the afternoon on Wednesday 3rd July, 2019, on which occasion you informed me of a petition against me from Sokoto State chapter of our Party and that the National Working Committee has set up a Committee under your Chairmanship to investigate and make recommendations thereto accordingly.

“In view of aforementioned, you further intimated me that I was required to appear before the Committee on Thursday 4th July, 2019, and ended on the note that you expected that the letter of invitation detailing the allegations against me had been brought to my attention.

“However, as you may also recall, I did inform you that I was in Sokoto at the said time where I would be appearing before the State High Court on same 4th July, 2019 in respect of an action between my humble self and our Party, the All Progressives Congress and Others., arising from some false and malicious allegations touching on my integrity which the said petition before your Committee is premised upon.

“This was in addition to the fact that I was yet to receive or be served with any invitation from the Party Secretariat.  On this note, I did make it categorically clear that it was not feasible for me to be in Abuja on Thursday 4th July, 2019, as the date coincides with my appearance before the Sokoto State High Court on the same issue.

He said, “Furthermore, it is apt to emphasize that the processes of High Court in Suit No: SS/33/2019 filed on the 31st May, 2019 have been served on our Party (APC) as 1st defendant as well as the 3rd and 4th defendants as far back as 3rd June, 2019, leaving only the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole (as 2nd defendant) to be served. Attached herewith is a memorandum of Appearance entered by the counsel representing the 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants for your perusal and notification of pending legal action relating to the subject matter or terms of reference of your said Committee.

“Permit me to remind you of what you should know better as a very senior legal practitioner of an irresistible and germane principle of law that once a matter is before a court of law; it becomes subjudice. Meaning that all actions are put in abeyance. Therefore, I would have declined appearance before your committee in respect of the petition even if I had received the earlier invitation, which you hoped was served on me when we spoke.

“However, I wish to acknowledge to you that I am now in receipt of your letter of invitation to appear before your committee on 4th July, 2019, dated 1st June, 2019, which was dropped with a security guard at my residence in Abuja yesterday evening. I have perused the letter which informed me that your Committee was appointed arising at a meeting of the National Working Committee  (NWC) held on the 6th June, 2019, a day after the Sallah holidays, while I was mourning the death of my wife and officially, the National Secretariat of our party was yet to re-open for business.

“In addition, even if the meeting was of an emergency nature, no notice of the said meeting was sent to me as a member of the said NWC. I verily believe that I am statutorily entitled to such notice.

“Nonetheless, assuming without conceding, that there was a legally convened meeting of National Working Committee, in view of foregoing, therefore, I do hereby counsel that your Committee should stay all actions to allow the law take its full course.”

Newsdiary Online  learnt that  a former governor of Sokoto state is believed to be the arrowhead of the move  against Abdulkadir. How far the party can go remains to be seen.Whatever happens, the hints from the party headquarters indicate that things are no longer at ease.And the situation remains, according to insiders,  unpredictable.