Michael Gabriel, Port Harcourt
The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State has continued to rage following the judgements of the state High Court that handed over its leadership of the party to the Senator Magnus Abe’s camp.
APC Rivers has been in disarray as struggle for the control of the party between Abe and the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, has rendered it irrelevant in the Rivers’ political landscape.
Ruling on Tuesday in two separate suits filed by Igo Aguma and Dele Moses and nine others, the court presided over by Justice George Omereji declared Aguma from Abe’s camp, the acting Chairman of APC in the state.
Omereji also ordered the APC to allow pro-Abe party members, who bought forms for the party’s 2018 congress, to partake in future congress without extra cost.
The two camps have been at daggers-drawn since the court delivered its judgements with the Amaechi group vowing to appeal the decisions of the court.
The immediate past Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, rejected the positions of the court.
Peterside, a former APC governorship candidate, said the party would explore all legal means beyond the high court, lamenting that interference of external forces was rendering the APC in the state comatose.
He said, “Let me confess that it was not totally unexpected given recent happenings in Rivers State but as democrats we have accepted it and will explore all legal means to seek redress upstairs.
“It is true that lately as a party, we are facing a lot of challenges, some of which are caused by the interference of external forces both within and outside the party, who want to see the party in the state lie comatose to their advantage and against the interest of Rivers State. But I am confident that as a party, we shall overcome.
“I acknowledge that there is no easy path to victory and that even God did not promise us an easy path but what the Almighty assured us is ultimate victory.
“I urge all true members of APC under the leadership of Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, not to despair nor be discouraged but continue to have abiding faith in God and our democratic institutions to restore the glory of our party, which will take over the leadership of Rivers State and restore sanity in the governance of the state.
“No amount of gang-up or manipulation of institutions by enemies of APC and Rivers State will succeed because they do not have the support of God of justice and moral force of law behind them.
“I am confident that the Appeal Court will correct the miscarriage of justice witnessed today. Our lawyers, upon instructions by the leadership, have already filed an appeal and motions for stay of execution immediately after the judgments were delivered.
“I wish to personally appeal to all our true members of the party to remain calm as we seek solutions within the confines of the law and through other credible political means to resolve some of our genuine challenges. There is absolutely no doubt that APC will be united and great again to the glory of God and service of Rivers people.”
But Abe, a former representative of Rivers South-East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, called on members of the APC to come together, summon courage and be willing to revive the fortunes of the party.
Abe, in a statement signed by his spokesperson, Parry Benson, said the judgements brought healing to the party, especially to members excluded from the party for holding a different opinion.
Abe wondered how a judgement that reaffirmed the right and responsibility of all major stakeholders could be opposed by some stakeholders, adding that the only thing wrong with the ruling was its failure to massage the ego of some individuals.
He said, “In the peculiar situation in which our party has found itself in Rivers State, these pronouncements offer us a unique opportunity to come together and put the APC in a sound footing.
“How can a judgment that redresses a grave injustice and heals the grievous crime of exclusion that was inflicted on over 19,000 party faithful across the state be bad for our party?
“These judgements are a soothing balm that deliver on these expectations and I thank the Judiciary for their courage in standing by the truth, delivering justice even in very difficult circumstances. The party must now move forward, it is time for us to come together and hold congresses that will leave no one out, and re-establish not just structures but hope and confidence in our party.
“We must all be ready to work with each other, and work with other stakeholders, including Chief Igo Aguma. Chief Aguma is eminently qualified to lead other statutory stakeholders in the State Executive Committee; he was bold enough to challenge a Caretaker Committee that was composed of unknown persons and reflected neither the inputs of other stakeholders nor the political realities on ground in the state.”