The newly-appointed Acting National Chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Maxi Okwu, may have been barred from entering the party's National Secretariat in Abuja, foreclosing early resolution of the crisis in the party.
A party official, who prefers anonymity, told PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday that the new National Working Committee, NWC, backed by the Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, has no business at the secretariat located at 41B Libreville Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja, and referring to them as 'usurpers.'
"They have no business here and they should not come close to this place," the official said. "They are usurpers and illegal and they know this and they should not come here."
Mr. Okwu was adopted to replace Victor Umeh as acting chairman after a meeting of a caucus of the party in Abuja last Saturday. Sani Shinkafi, who is the National Secretary of the faction led by Mr. Umeh was asked to retain his position while a former Minister of Health, Tim Menakaya, was appointed chairman of the party's Board of Trustees, BOT.
The appointments were made in response to the judgment of an Enugu High Court, which sacked Mr. Umeh and other members of the NWC on the ground that their election breached Section 18 of the party's constitution.
Efforts to speak with Mr. Umeh on the development failed as he could not be reached even though he was cited at the secretariat when PREMIUM TIMES visited.
Several telephone calls to his mobile telephone were not responded to, while Mr. Shinkafi's mobile telephone was also switched off.
The party's National Director of Publicity, Iheanacho Oguejiofor, refused to comment when PREMIUM TIMES sought to speak with him.
We'll get another secretariat
Mr. Okwu, however, said his team would not fight over the national secretariat now manned by a gun-wielding policeman who was drafted to join the security team apparently to forestall trouble from the opposing faction.
"We don't need it. We are opening a new secretariat," he told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview, adding that the new secretariat would be in place when he returns from a trip to Lagos next week.
At the height of the crisis last year, Mr. Obi led a group of party members to appoint Sadiq Massala and Ifedi Okwema as National Chairman and Secretary of the Party respectively.
Mr. Massala, who allegedly felt betrayed by the governor, has also declared publicly that he is leading a faction of APGA quite distinct from the one led by Mr. Okwu who himself was once a Deputy National Chairman of the Party before he left to float Citizens Popular Party, CPP.
Mr. Umeh was quoted in the media on Tuesday as saying that Mr. Obi has no power under APGA's constitution to convene a meeting of the crisis-ridden party to pick a new acting chairman and secretary, insisting that he had already appealed the judgment.
The embattled party boss said he was elected to replace the founding national chairman of the party, Chekwas Okorie, in 2006, adding that he is currently running his second term of four years which would expire next year.