Godwin Etim John and the others who were inaugurated last week as members of the state executive committee of the All Progressives Congress in Cross River State risk being jailed for contempt of court, having disobeyed an order of court stopping them from parading themselves as Exco of the party in the state.
Etim John has however denied knowledge of the court order. TNN learnt that the Exco, believed to be promoted and supported by Usani Usani, minister of Niger Delta, was inaugurated a day after the court granted the restraining order.
In a chat with TNN, Etim John said he was not aware any court injunction restraining him and members of his Exco from exercising their mandate as members of the state Exco.
“I have not been served any injunction. I cannot comment on what I have not seen,” he told TNN via the telephone.
With the appointment of Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba as the secretary of the party's National Convention coming up soon, some members of the party believe that Ndoma-Egba, who is a highly respected chieftain of the party and chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board, has the magic wand to turn things around and end the charade that has taken place as the state congress.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi is also accused of stoking the crisis in the party in the state as he belongs to this same faction and has been accused of wanting to install his stooges in the state at all costs.
A high court in Akpabuyo presided over by Justice Achu Ewa, had granted an ex parte motion restraining the party's factional state executive, led by Etim John, from parading themselves or acting in any capacity as state executive officers of the party.
The court further restrained the faction from “exercising or performing the duties, functions or enjoying any benefits as officers of the APC, Cross River State.”
But Etim John insists that his Exco which was legitimately elected would attend the forthcoming national congress of the party.
Following the controversial state congress that produced Etim John as chairman, the other faction that enjoys the support of the majority elders of the party, described as stakeholders, such as former governor Chief Clement Ebri, Chief Wilfred Inah, a governorship aspirant Prof Etim Nyong, Cletus Obun, Venatius Ikem, Hilliard Eta, Senator Owan Enoh, Okoi Obono Obla, Odey Ochicha, John Ochala, Hon Paul Adah and many others, came together on Sunday, 27 May and elected a parallel state exco.
During the exercise, Dr. Matthew Achigbe emerged as state chairman of the party, while John Ochala emerged as deputy chairman. Victor Ebong emerged as state secretary. Some of the party leaders such as Cletus Obun retained their erstwhile positions in the previous Exco. He returned as vice chairman, central.
The supremacy battle shifted to the court of law where Achigbe, prompted his counsel, Joe Oloko, to on his behalf and other party leaders, seek an ex parte motion restraining Etim John and his executive from parading themselves or acting in any capacity as state executive officers of the party.
Achigbe said he decided to go to court because of the fraud that attended the congress that produced Etim John and his executive.
The court has fixed June 7, 2018, for hearing and determination of the matter. The party's national congress will determine which faction holds sway as both factions dig in desperately to take control of the state.