Igochukwu Aguma And The Rivers APC: The Burden Of A Guilty Conscience5 min read
By Sogbeye C. Eli
Segun Owolabi, when next you take on APC issues – whether this be at the national or Rivers State Chapter levels – please do well to pick up the APC Constitution 2014 (as Amended) from the floor. You can do that by reading the same Constitution in extenso and giving equal access to your phone-in facilities by every caller to allow for clear balance (or semblance of same) in the divergent views of the contributors. This is in accordance with the principles of fairness (fair hearing) and freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which empowers the Press and gives it an obligation at Section 22 to uphold the Fundamental Objectives contained in Chapter 2 thereof.
The above, in my humble view, was not the case in the views I heard people express on your Radio (Viewpoint) this morning in the analysis of the crisis deliberately stirred by Igo Aguma aided by a phalanx of known rebels in the Rivers APC in a rather incestuous political alliance in the failed coup to oust Chief Victor Tombari Giadom as Deputy National Secretary and replace him with Worgu Boms, Esq. That mutiny itself amounted to throwing the APC Constitution on the floor.
For the avoidance of doubt, the pronouncements of Justice George Omereji which declared Igochukwu Aguma Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the Rivers APC did not preserve him in that office in absolutism. Recall that Aguma’s court appointment is consequent upon the dissolution by the judgment of the Isaac Abbott Ogbobula led Caretaker Committee that was validly appointed by the now defunct National Working Committee to fill the void in leadership created by the assault on the internal affairs of the Rivers APC in 2018 in the Judiciary by the same rebels. Recall also that at the point in question, Igo Aguma was not in agreement with the strange bedfellows he is in bed with right now. I shall address this incest on another day.
Next, neither the APC Constitution nor Justice Omereji proclaimed anywhere that in the exercise of the powers of the Office of State Chairman Igo Aguma is at liberty to run the APC in Rivers State as a Sole Administrator as can be gleaned from his plot to unlawfully remove a national officer of the party before convening a meeting of the State APC Caretaker Committee to consider and ratify an action he has already completed by sponsoring Dele Moses and co to obtain an interim injunction suspending Victor Giadom from the NWC. That subsequent meeting, an act of grand deception pretending to have been taken in consonance with the provisions of the APC Constitution, is itself sufficient grounds to question Aguma’s honesty. Two, it provides an unassailable challenge to the conscience of Aguma in seeking judicial intervention for not being consulted by the NWC as a statutory member of the State Executive Committee in the constitution of a CTC for Rivers State in the first place.
You must avert your mind to the unchallenged preservative judicial reliefs (Orders) safeguarding the person and office of Victor Giadom in the NWC before and whilst all these shenanigans were afoot.
I insist therefore, that it is sheer hypocrisy for the so-called apostles of “internal democracy” in the Rivers APC like Kadilo Barina Kabari, Kennedy Friday, et al and Aguma to imagine that the day would come when the APC Constitution would be cast on the floor again by them as they cherry-pick which judicial decisions are worth their obedience.
On the question of the statutory members of the Rivers APC SEC running foul of the law or being contempt of a judicial decision in suspending Aguma from office and electing Dr. Sokonte Davies as his replacement, these things are not cast in stone. Nothing in the judgment of Justice Omereji which brought Aguma into office gave him the power to lead a minority in the statutory membership of the State Exco to remove an elected national officer from the State WITHOUT recourse to a general meeting of the Statutory members of SEC sitting as a CTC first. So, Aguma was lawfully ousted for abuse of office, flagrant violation of the party Constitution, delusional interpretation of his powers as CTC Chairman, etc pursuant to the powers conferred on them as the Caretaker Committee of the party by Justice Omereji on June 9, 2020 and the APC Constitution. It is the same right Aguma has under the APC Constitution in asking for the dissolution of the CTC set up by the now ousted NWC for non-consultation that the majority statutory members of the SEC have and lawfully excercised to remove him for not consulting them before proceeding to replace Giadom with his brother, Boms. We would leave the balance of this argument for July 7, 2020 when, hopefully, the leadership of the present Rivers APC CTC shall appear before Justice Omereji to answer to the contempt charges instituted by Igo Aguma.
Finally, there are those who have led themselves to believe that the APC Constitution can be cast on the floor again by clutching on to the emotional feeling that the removal of Igo Aguma was not done in accordance with the procedure outlined in the party’s Constitution. People can afford to remain insulated from the reality of constitutional interventions in our polity where the provisions of the Constitution are not complied with; where grave danger would ensue from allowing the deliberate abuse of extant provisions of the Constitution; or the Constitution is silent on a developing issue.
The Nigerian Senate under Senate President David Mark invoked the Doctrine of Necessity pursuant to the powers inherent in the institution under the 1999 Constitution to ratify the taking off of the Goodluck Jonathan presidency when an ailing President Umar Musa Yar’Adua failed to transmit a communication to the National Assembly transferring power to his Vice as prescribed by law. Ipso facto, a necessity also arose to restore sanity in the Rivers APC to rescue her from the perilous direction Igo Aguma was taking the Chapter to. Again, we will respond to the questions of in who lies the power to convene meetings under Article 25 (in particular) of the APC Constitution and in what circumstances such convention may be valid under the APC Constitution as basis for questioning the validity of the removal of Igochukwu Aguma from office when that great day, July 7, 2020 arrives.
Mr. Eli, a lawyer, former Chairman of Conference of APC State Youth Leaders and pioneer elected State Youth Leader of the Rivers APC, wrote in reaction to the Rhythm FM Port Harcourt current affairs programme, “Viewpoint”, of Saturday, June 27, 2020.