Five members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) under the auspices of New Lagos Movement, have sued the National Leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, and the party’s acting National Chairman, Bisi Akande, over imposition of party officers at the recently-held congresses of the party in Lagos State.
The plaintiffs, in the fresh suit before the Federal High Court in Lagos, are seeking an order restraining the defendants from allowing any delegate who may be presented by the state chapter of APC to participate at the national convention of the party scheduled to hold between June 13 and 14 or at any other time.
The plaintiffs, Akinniyi Akinsiju, Michael Popoola Ajayi, Olugbenga Fakoya, Toyin Raheem and Taiwo Sanyaolu, had filed the suit through their lawyer, Nurudeen Ogbara, seeking judicial intervention over the alleged imposition of party officers.
Apart from Tinubu and Akande, others joined as defendants in the suit are the Chairman of APC Congress Committee, Garba Abari; the APC itself and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Abari’s committee supervised APC congresses which were designed to produce leaders of the party in the state.
One of the plaintiffs, Sanyaolu, in an affidavit to support the suit, recalled that all the plaintiffs specifically formed a nucleus group within the APC known as the ‘New Lagos Movement’ in order to instill internal democracy within the party.
He averred that one of the constitutional provisions of APC’s constitution was that all party posts “shall be filled by democratically conducted elections in order to avoid imposition which could breed discontent and crisis.”
Sanyaolu further recalled that it was on the background of the above that APC members in the state, at a stakeholders’ meeting, decided that persons to hold the party offices must emerge at congresses to be held from April 5 and rejected the idea of imposition of leaders by Tinubu.
He said at the ward congresses held on April 5 as scheduled, members trooped out in large numbers and queued behind their favourite candidates at the end of which electoral results were announced in most centres to the hearing of everybody.
The plaintiff further stated that as scheduled, on April 12, the local government congresses of the party in the state held at the various local government secretariats where delegates who emerged from the ward congresses of April 5 did cast their votes for their preferred candidates in order to produce party executives at the local government level.
Sanyaolu added: “It was rather surprising to everybody when, after the conclusion of voting in many centres, the first defendant (Tinubu) unilaterally and unconscionably altered the results of many local government areas and started allocating already voted offices to his preferred elements who lost at the elections and thereby declaring persons who lost on the fields to be the winners of the elections.
“Such disastrous havocs were wrought on the electorate in Surulere Local Government Area where Tinubu, in connivance with Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, a member representing the fourth defendant (APC) at the House of Representatives, declared false results and awarded offices to their stooges.
“Similarly in Ikorodu North Local Council Development Area of the state, false results were declared and endorsed by the first defendant who unilaterally imposed his cronies on the electorate within the party.
“In several other local government areas of the state, including but not limited to Somolu, Agboyi-Ketu, Mushin, Ikeja and Ojodu, the first defendant, using the agency of the second defendant (Abari), manipulated election results to favour his cronies and in some places where elections did not hold due to violence, the Tinubu unilaterally declared a number of persons favoured by him to be party executives.
“Furthermore, I was present on the April 16 at a gathering of party members at the state party secretariat of the fourth defendant situated along Acme Road, Ogba, Ikeja, where the Tinubu unilaterally announced that he had zoned the APC governorship ticket in the state to Lagos East zone comprising Ikorodu and Epe areas of without any prior consultation with or room for debate by members of the party.
“Tinubu, at the same venue before the then on-coming state congress which was to hold on April 26 2014, declared that he had zoned party offices by allocating 30 percent to youths, 30 percent to women and 40 percent to the elders and further that he had zoned party offices to various parts of the state via a process not permitting popular democracy.
“Incidentally and proving the above, as a bona fide member of the party, I sought to contest the office of the State Youth Leader of the party and applied to obtain nomination form and was at the office of the party in Ikeja for several hours on April 16 and 17.
“After persisting in my efforts to obtain a nomination form, one Funsho Ologunde, a member of the Congress Committee headed by the second defendant, took pity on me and explained to me that all offices of the party had been zoned to various local government areas and particularly, the office of the youth leader of the party had been zoned to a local government area other than my place of residence and hence I could not obtain any such form.
“I know that on April 26, at the state secretariat of the party, it was a huge mockery of democracy as several persons were returned unopposed, including the office I intended to contest, since their potential opponents had been denied the right to participate in the election.
“The above untoward developments led to lots of agitations within the party as several persons called for cancellation of the congresses which were mostly destroyed by acts at variance with the constitution of the party and electoral guidelines as well as the much revered principles of democracy,” Sanyaolu narrated.
The plaintiff further alleged that a letter sent by his co-plaintiffs to Akanda on the anomalies was ignored, and that nothing was heard on it till date.
He also indicted INEC officials of failing to stop the electoral anomalies.
Speaking further, Sanyaolu stressed that by APC’s guidelines, there was supposed to be an Appeal Committee sitting over appeals arising from each congress but none was constituted until after the conclusion of the charade purportedly held as state congress on April 26.
“Surprisingly, the first defendant, in his dictatorial and monarchical attitude, ordered the Appeal Committee members constituted by the National Congresses Supervisory Committee (NCSC) to return to the national headquarters and that he alone would resolve all complaints, petitions and disputes arising from all the congresses,” he alleged.
Besides, Sanyaolu said he was “also aware that the state chairmen, secretaries and treasurers of the states, together with the local government chairmen, secretaries and treasurers of the party are, by the APC guidelines, expected to form part of the national convention of the party already slated to hold on June 13 and 14 at Abuja.
“I am also aware that the Tinubu and the state chapter of the party are already planning to present the unelected state chairman, secretary and treasurer of the party together with the unelected local government chairmen, secretaries and treasurers as the representatives of the state at the on-coming national convention.”