The attention of our great party has been drawn to the above captioned campaign of calumny and invectives targeted at the exalted office of the National Chairman of our Party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). The smear campaign written and shared across various online platforms by a faceless group under the aegis of “APGA Eminent Group:” appears to be the latest in a series of clearly distorted attacks against APGA by one Chief Edozie Njoku, who albeit ludicrously has been laying claim to the coveted office of the National Chairman of APGA. Justly recently, Chief Edozie Njoku was granted a cameo appearance on “AIT” and in his usual style made a barrage of mischievous claim ostensibly in a bid to accentuate his laughable claim to the exalted position of the National Chairman of APGA.
One would have been tempted to ignore his series of vitriolic attacks on the party which are just but the antics of a drowning man and a notorious goon who is merely looking to hoodwink unsuspecting party members to part with their hard-earned money in a bid to sustain his inordinate lifestyle. However, we owe it a duty, as a responsible and responsive political party, to clear the air on some of his mischievous claims nay distortion of salient facts so as not to keep our party faithful and members disillusioned on the actual state of affairs as regards the leadership of our great party. This we shall do hereunder with a view to brevity and clarity without losing sight of the required comprehensiveness.
One of the most ridiculous positions nay assertion of Chief Edozie Njoku is that of being a foundation member of APGA. The leadership of APGA has maintained a consistent position that Chief Edozie Njoku, not being a member of APGA, cannot claim any right, benefit or position in APGA. It may be quite apposite to remind Chief Njoku and his faceless hirelings that the constitution of APGA does not guarantee or enthrone perpetual membership. It is notorious fact that Chief Njoku who can be likened to a political “abiku” has been in and out of the party in a number of occasions; few illustrations/examples will suffice at this juncture. Shortly after he lost the Onitsha North & South Federal Constituency election in 2003, Chief Edozie Njoku left APGA where he was then registered in a ward in Onitsha North. He returned sometime in 2007 to spearhead the ill-fated gubernatorial quest of an aspirant. When the ambition of his then principal failed, he left alongside the aspirant to the ANPP. Edozie Njoku thereafter joined the PDP during the administration of Fmr. President Goodluck Jonathan. His last sojourn in APGA was during the ill-fated quest of Chief Stanley Amuchie for the gubernatorial ticket of our great party in Imo State.
It is a known fact and as decided by various courts that it is only a political party that knows and determines who its members are. Thus the claim of being a foundation member of APGA by Chief Edozie Njoku stands logic on its head. Several foundation members of APGA have left the party to seek political fortunes elsewhere. Indeed, no less a person than the pioneer National Chairman of APGA has left the party. What makes Chief Njoku’s case different?
Apparently, the most intriguing albeit ludicrous allegation of Chief Edozie Njoku appears to be the claim that he emerged as the National Chairman in a social gathering of his kinsmen somewhere in Owerri. Several questions beg the answer by that singular mischievous claim.
Which organ of the party approved the holding of a National Convention in Owerri?
When was such a decision reached by APGA? Who appointed members of the Convention Planning Committee? Did INEC approve of and monitor the purported convention in the discharge of its statutory role as enshrined in Section 85 of the Electoral Act?
The answers to the above questions will readily reveal the hollowness of Chief Njoku’s claim. Even more preposterous is Chief Edozie Njoku’s assertion on live TV that the Board of Trustees of APGA approved of the holding of a National Convention in Owerri. It is not in doubt that the chairman of the Board of Trustees of APGA is His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, the Executive Governor of Anambra State while Alhaji Sani Shinkafi is the Secretary of APGA BOT. The above mentioned key/principal officers of the Board of Trustees never convened any meeting nor gave any purported approval for the holding of the National Convention in Owerri. Thus, the claim by Chief Njoku is nothing but a mere ruse.
Furthermore, and to underscore the emptiness of Chief Njoku’s assertions, it is salient to review relevant provisions of the constitution of APGA with respect to the convening of a National Convention. In that regard, Article 13(1) grants the National Chairman the powers to summon and preside over the National Convention of the party while Article 11(1) stipulates the composition of the National Convention. It is an undeniable fact that as at the 31st of May, 2019 when the purported National Convention being claimed by Chief Njoku was allegedly held, Ozonkpu (Dr) Victor Oye remained the National Chairman and was still serving his first tenure in office. If at all anyone ought to summon and preside over the National Convention of APGA, then it must be Ozonkpu (Dr) Victor Oye, pursuant to Article 13(1) of APGA Constitution. The only logical conclusion deducible from the puerile allegations of Chief Edozie Njoku is that he remains an alien to the affairs of APGA who has no business whatsoever with the affairs of APGA.
Apparently more worrying and ostensibly bemusing is the allusion to various court judgments/orders by Chief Edozie Njoku as being the basis for his audacious claim. Interestingly, it is his warped understanding of the purport and intendment of the said decisions of court that has seen him embark on such daunting nonetheless fruitless misadventure. First is the exparte order and subsequently, the default judgment of the Delta State High Court, Kwale Judicial Division in Suit No. HCK/40/2019: High Chief Ogonetus Okponetus & ors vs All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) & anor. The court in an exparte order made on the 23rd of May, 2019 restrained the National Executive Committee of APGA from implementing the decisions reached at NEC meeting of APGA held on 14/5/2019. Part of the decisions reached at the NEC meeting was the holding of the National Convention on 31/5/2019. It must be emphasized that His Lordship, Hon Justice V. I. Ofesi (Rtd) while making the order clearly stated that the order shall be contingent upon serving same on the defendants in the suit and shall lapse after service 7 days of service. Incidentally, the said order was only served on the party on the 3rd day of June, 2019 after the National Convention had been duly conducted and concluded. Moreso, aside the decision of the NEC at the said meeting.
More so, the Oyo State High Court, Ibadan Judicial Division in Suit No. I/512/2019: Deacon Segun Sampson Olalere vs All Progressives Grand Alliance & anor had on the 28th day of May, 2019 delivered a final judgment wherein the court mandated APGA to conduct its National Convention on or before the 4th of June, 2019. It was thus in compliance with the said final judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction that the National Convention of 31/5/2019 was held at the Prof. Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka. Three interesting issues readily arise from a proper appreciation of the above stated judgments of courts. First is the fact that Chief Edozie Njoku was not a party to the aforementioned suits and thus cannot claim any benefit therefrom. Ozonkpu Dr. Victor Oye was the 2nd defendant in Suit No. I/512/2019 with APGA as the 1st defendant while APGA was the 1st defendant in Suit No HCK/40/2019. Thus, the orders of the court in Suit No. I/512/2019 were directed at APGA and Ozonkpu Dr. Victor Oye as the defendants in Suit No I/512/20190. The said orders were duly and/or substantially complied with by both APGA and its National Chairman, Ozonkpu Dr Victor Ike Oye. Secondly and more intriguing is the fact that the judgment in Suit No I/512/2019 was delivered on the 28th day of May, 2019. It is the said judgment that Chief Edozie Njoku and his hirelings claimed to have obeyed when they purportedly conducted congresses on 2nd, 3rd and 6th of May, 2019. It is the height of stupidity and sheer effrontery for one to boldly assert that he was complying with a judgment that was yet to be delivered save Chief Njoku has assumed an omniscient toga!
Thirdly, the exparte order and the subsequent default judgment in Suit No HCK/40/2019 popularly flaunted by Chief Njoku as discrediting the National Convention of APGA held in Awka has all since been vacated. As stated earlier, the exparte order was apparently a non-starter since it was ab initio predicated on service upon the defendants.
Unfortunately, APGA was only served with the order of court on the 3rd of June, 2019 after it had duly conducted its National Convention. The Honourable court in a subsequent Ruling delivered on the 23rd of April, 2020 set aside the default judgment it entered against APGA in Suit No HCK/40/2019. The court while delivering the ruling clearly acknowledged that, “…As at the time, the case was held and judgment given, the 1st defendant(APGA) was within the time allowed by the Rules to file their statement of defence and all other accompanying processes. From the facts on record as presented by the Applicant, they were not in default, it will be unfair to shut the door against them as such action cannot be justified. Their right of fair hearing would have been breached. This court having realized that it was misled to giving the judgment in question is left with no option than to set same aside. Consequently, the judgment of this court given on the 4/7/2019 be set aside and it is hereby set aside including all the orders made thereto”. It is thus crystal clear that Chief Njoku and his hirelings are merely out to deceive gullible minds and unsuspecting members of the public. Nothing can be farther from the truth.
Chief Edozie Njoku further made reference to Suit No. FCT/HC/CV/2086/2019 instituted and subsequently withdrawn by the National Chairman of APGA, Ozonkpu Dr Victor Ike Oye as another basis for his mischievous claim. It must be stated that the said suit was instituted by Ozonkpu Dr Victor Oye to stop Chief Edozie Njoku from deceiving and swindling unsuspecting members of APGA, notable among them, some of the gubernatorial aspirants of the party in Imo State. This suit was however withdrawn by the National Chairman on the intervention of some senior party officials and stakeholders who felt that Chief Njoku was not worth the attention. Pray, how does the withdrawal of a suit by a party before hearing accord Chief Njoku the office of the National Chairman of APGA? Perhaps, it may be imperative to educate Chief Njoku and his faceless groups that under the law, a party who institutes an action is at liberty to discontinue the action at any time before hearing commences. In such circumstances, parties are deemed not to have reached “litis contestatio”. Thus, the discontinuance of such action and its subsequent striking out is not a decision on the merits and does not, ipso facto, determine the rights of the parties thereto. Unarguably, the striking out of FCT/HC/CV/2086/2019 by His Lordship, Hon Justice O. C. Agbaza of the FCT High court did not determine the rights of the parties in the said suit.
Again, the claim by Chief Njoku that there is not yet any judicial pronouncement on the leadership of APGA by a court of competent jurisdiction is a barefaced lie! As at date, there has been several actions instituted by Chief Njoku through his numerous cronies and proxies where the court has made pronouncements on the leadership issues in APGA. A few of them will clearly suffice at this juncture. In Suit No FCT/HC/CV/1948/2019: Nze Kennedy Anunobi & Ors vs All Progressives Grand Alliance & Ors, the FCT High Court while dismissing the suit in its judgment upheld outcome of the National Convention of APGA held in Awka. In Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/557/2019: Smart Iheoma & Ors vs All Progressives Grand Alliance & Ors, the Federal High Court, Abuja Division in a ruling delivered on 1/6/2020 struck out the action challenging the National Convention of APGA held in Awka on 31/5/2019. Equally, the Delta State High court in Suit No. HOR/MISC/6/2019 dismissed an incompetent application for Judicial Review brought against the National Chairman of APGA, Ozonkpu Dr Victor Ike Oye. Just recently and in a landmark judgment, the Anambra State High court upheld the National Convention of APGA held on the 31st of May, 2019 at the Prof Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka as well as the various congresses conducted from the wards, Local Governments and states prior to the said National Convention. The said judgment consequently lays to a final rest the contentions of Chief Njoku on the illegality or otherwise of the National Convention that produced the current National Executive officers of APGA led by Ozonkpu Dr Victor Ike Oye. The irresistible and unassailable conclusion from the above stated judgments of superior courts of record is that Ozonkpu Dr Victor Oye is the substantive and authentic National Chairman of APGA.
If Chief Edozie Njoku feels strongly compelled that he has a strong case to make, why did he embark on a fruitless judicial sojourn to Bauchi state in Suit No. FHC/BAU/CS/10/2020 when the purported National Convention he is seeking to enforce was allegedly held in Owerri? What happened to the Federal High court, Owerri Division that obviously possesses the requisite territorial jurisdiction? Why Did Chief Njoku fail to join Ozonkpu Dr Victor Oye as a party to the said suit when by his admission, Dr Oye is the recognized National Chairman of APGA by INEC? A whole lot of salient questions remain unanswered in Chief Njoku’s failed judicial heist against the leadership of APGA.
Undeniably, Chief Njoku’s persistent and consistent diatribes on the leadership of the party as well as the grand deceits and distortion of facts is simply to pave way for him to swindle aspirants on the platform of APGA in the forthcoming Anambra Governorship elections. Otherwise, how does one explain the sudden macabre dance by Chief Edozie Njoku on National TV as well as various online fora. Just recently and in a clearly orchestrated scheme by the opposition political parties in Anambra State using Chief Njoku as their front, he released a Timetable/Schedule of Activities for the conduct of a factional primary election in APGA in Anambra State. Pray, did Chief Njoku suddenly realize that he is the National Chairman of APGA? Did Chief Njoku attempt to nominate a candidate in his own Imo State during the Imo North Senatorial Bye election? Did Chief Edozie Njoku nominate any candidate for the Edo Governorship election held last year? Did Chief Njoku nominate any candidate for the just concluded House of Representatives Bye election for Magama/Rijau Federal constituency won by APGA? What then is he looking for in Anambra State.
We have taken the pains of this lengthy discourse to educate nay enlighten the members of APGA and indeed the discerning public on the futility of Chief Njoku’s unwarranted claims and barrage of attacks on the National Chairman of APGA. Chief Edozie Njoku is strongly advised to expend the energy he is needlessly dissipating in pursuing the Application for Judicial Review he instituted to a logical conclusion and let APGA be. If he feels strongly compelled, he can apply through any ward of his choice and just maybe, he might be readmitted into the fold of APGA. For now, he remains a persona non grata in the affairs of APGA.
Sly Ezeokenwa Esq
National Legal Adviser, APGA