Umuahia — As delegates prepare for the national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the outgoing National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, has been urged to obey a subsisting court order in the leadership tussle
Abia State APC is currently torn between two factional Chairmen, Hon Donatus Nwankpa and Chief Emmanuel Ndukwe, despite a court order which had restrained the former from participating in the state congress of May 19, 2018.
Speaking at a news conference in Umuahia, the Publicity Secretary of the Ndukwe-led state APC, Hon Mike Ozoemena, said: "Oyegun has done a lot of harm to the image of APC by defying a court which barred him from dealing with Nwankpa."
He therefore urged Oyegun to recognise Ndukwe as state APC chairman in line with the court order or risk being committed to jail for contempt of court, adding that as the national chairman of the party, Oyegun should be a shining example in upholding the rule of law.
An Abia State high court had on March 8, 2018, "restrained Oyegun, Nwankpa, his executives and their agents from organising any ward, local government or state congresses or primaries of the APC in the state."
The order issued by Justice Collinson Okoroafor also specifically "restrained (Oyegun) from planning, implementing, executing or even holding to discuss or strategise on such issues and other issues concerning nomination or sponsorship of candidates for any elective position in Abia state or Nigeria except with the Ndukwe-led state executive committee pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit."
Without vacating the court order, the APC national leadership still went ahead to send state congress committee to Abia State headed by Senator Jonathan Zwingina as chairman and Hajia Rabi Sulu Gamabari as secretary.
But on reaching Umuahia, the state capital, the committee split with Zwingina conducting the state congress for the Nwankpa-led faction while Hajia Gambari went and supervised the state congress for Ndukwe-led faction.
Gambari said her group was in the state "to ensure that the rule of law is upheld in the country" adding that the Ndukwe-led state APC "is the authentic one."
While Nwankpa and Ndukwe emerged chairmen from the parallel congresses, Oyegun later included the former along when he inaugurated state chairmen of APC at a ceremony in the party's national secretariat in Abuja.
Ozoemena said Oyegun should prove himself as a democrat by obeying the court order, adding that the outgoing national chairman was expected to emulate President Muhammadu Buhari, who has demonstrated his love for democracy and rule of law by recognising the outcome of June 12, 1993, presidential poll.
According to him, by honouring late Chief Moshood Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the historic June 12, 1993, poll, President Buhari has left no one in doubt about his democratic credentials.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of the APC National Convention Committee, Senator Victor Ndume-Egba has reportedly assured members that the party would strive to resolve all disputes arising from the state congresses, including the cases in court before the convention.
"We are hoping to resolve those issues before the convention, especially in states where we have court processes," he said, adding that the disputes would be resolve "one way or the other" (including) leaving a window open for harmonisation and reconciliation."