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Court Declared Me The Authentic National Chairman Of APGA

By Mazi Odera

National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Mr. Maxi Okwu speaks on the recent court judgment that affirmed his leadership of the party, the proposed national dialogue and other topical issues.

HAS the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) restore recognition to your leadership of APGA based on the recent court judgment that declared you the authentic national chairman of the party?

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was the third plaintiff on record in the suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/563/2013, Chief Maxi Okwu and ors V Chief Victor Umeh and 2 ors. INEC is therefore bound directly by the judgment. It had opportunity to defend the action, but it took a passive role. It did not file any counter affidavit to all the affidavits we filed.

The implication in law is clear. You may recall that we had by letter dated August 2, 2013 posed some questions to INEC chairman Attahiru Jega to answer, but he ignored us. This suit was essentially based on those questions. The court answered all the questions that Jega refused to respond to, in our favour.

But Chief Umeh's faction has since described the court judgment as abuse of court process on the ground that Appeal Court has confirmed him the authentic chairman of the party before the last Anambra governorship election?

Umeh and his associates engaged in judicial, if not political masturbation. They are also non- believers in the rule of law. As bullies they praise the judiciary to high heaven when a verdict is in their favour, but when they lose they behave like spoiled sports.

Let me reproduce the verdict of Justice Abdul Kefarat at page 9 of his sound judgment

“I took pains to read the judgment of the court of Appeal, Enugu Division in Appeal No: CA/E/84/2013 delivered on July 15, 2013 between Chief Victor Umeh Vs Ichie Okuli Jude Ejike annexed to the 3rd defendant's counter affidavit as exhibit 1”.

In that Judgment the court of Appeal did not confer any right or benefit on Victor Umeh. What the court of Appeal decided was that Respondent (as plaintiff in the lower court) did not have the locus standi to institute this action. In that case the respondent was a mere member of APGA and not a member of any organ of the party, and was not also a contestant for the post of chairman”. -Per. Justice A. Abdul- Kafarati”

Now what happens to the two candidates Mr. Willie Obiano and Dr. Chike Obidigbo fielded by the party in the last Anambra governorship election?

APGA by law cannot field two candidates in the election. At the time for the nomination of candidates, the leadership of the party was in contention. The court allowed us to submit our own nominee to INEC in the person of Dr. Chike Obidigbo.

Now that the leadership question has been resolved in our favour, it follows that our candidate is the authentic APGA candidate for the election. Besides, the most important thing is that head or tail, APGA won the election.

Your leadership of the party recently announced Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu as chairman of Board of Trustees (BoT) whereas Umeh faction has earlier announced Governor Peter Obi as BoT leader of the party. Why the action?

The party had taken a position that late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu remains our spiritual leader. Governor Obi was at the meetings on February 16, 2013 and March 2nd 2013. He in fact decline to be made Leader. Some of us are not given to summersaults and stunts in politics. Hence we stand on the original agreement. Iyom Bianca Onoh the next of kin of our departed leader is holding the position in his stead.

Is it true that you are being used by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State to destroy the party?

I do not have the contact of Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. Those making the allegation such as Alhaji Sani Shinkafi were direct beneficiaries of Owelle's largesse. Until recently Umeh was the director of Publicity of C21 founded by Owelle. Umeh again in 2012 unilaterally proclaimed Owelle leader of APGA. I will not repeat what he told me in private.

What is your view on the proposed national conference?

The Federal Government in its wisdom decided to convene a national conference. There are certain aspects of the modalities with which we are not very comfortable, but that's not for here.

Part of the approved modalities is that political parties with representation at the National Assembly would send two delegates each. There are about four such parties out of about twenty-five political parties in Nigeria today, and APGA is one of them.

We have since nominated our two representatives in the person of Chief Chris Ejike Uche, deputy national Chairman (South) of the party, and Dr. Sagir Awal Maidoya National Secretary.

Is your party fielding a presidential candidate in 2015 or will you people throw your weight behind President Jonathan as you people did in 2011 elections?

Sincerely speaking APGA is not in a position to seriously contend for the presidency in 2015 and win. We backed President Jonathan in 2011. We are worried with the level of intimidation and blackmail from a section of the country trying to make him not to exercise his constitutional right to seek another and final term. We therefore believe that should he desire to exercise that right we shall go along with him.

What efforts are you making to reconcile aggrieved members of the party?

We believe that the internecine leadership crisis in the party has now reached its apogee and may soon faze out. We have shown commitment to this right from day one with our three R's strategy viz Rapprochement, Reconciliation and Reintegration.

In the course of this we commenced a process of winning back the soul of the party purportedly taken away by our aggrieved founding national chairman Chief Chekwas Okorie; winning back others who had become disenchanted and disillusioned.

With present gains in the recovery of our mandate we are emboldened to pursue this strategy with greater vigour. You may recall that at the doorstep of the Federal High Court Abuja on January 15, 2014, I immediately declared no victor no vanquished. I further made an offer to Victor Umeh to meet him at Enugu at his earliest convenience to strike a peace deal without preconditions, but sadly he has rebuffed my efforts.