There are emerging indications that the Minister for Niger Delta affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani may be arrested and tried for an alleged criminal offence.
Usani had organised a factional governorship primary after which a certain Emmanuel Anom declared him winner on Monday. This has not gone down well with the leadership of the party which issued a strongly worded statement denouncing Usani and accusing him of attempting to cause breach of the peace.
The statement by the state APC chairman, Dr. Mathew Achigbe, said the minister's purported election was not recognized by the party, adding that “Usani's sinister motives must be resisted”.
Achigbe also alleged that “We want to state categorically that Usani's decision was not only false, illegal and undemocratic but criminal in every sense of the word.”
He said the party's constitution provides that “National Working Committee (NWC) shall organize primary election for the nomination of its presidential, governorship candidates and candidates for elections into the national and state Assemblies hence, the fact that last Monday's exercise was duly supervised by INEC and various security organizations gives credence to the Owan Enoh's election, the chairman stressed.
According to Achigbe, the “purported primary election held by Usani Usani falls short of the provisions of the party’s constitution. Usani Usani's election is null and void and of no effect.
“Permit us to observe that the minister has a sinister motive, perhaps to rob the party of victory in the forthcoming polls as his actions before and during the party primaries suggest.
“This fraudulent agenda of the minister will be checked by the national leadership.”
He called on the security agencies “to summarily arrest and detain Usani for severally attempting to cause breach of public peace and for inciting the members against the party's leadership.”
In a brief telephone interview with Etim John, the factional APC chairman supporting Usani Usani, he said his faction was the authentic one and alleged that the Achigbe-led faction could not arrest or threaten Usani.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani may have bitten more than he could chew by conducting a parallel governorship primary in Cross River state after which he was declared the alternate governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The action of the minister has been condemned by some stakeholders of the party who said the party's constitution clearly spells out how the party's primaries should be conducted.
The stakeholders told TNN in Calabar that a properly constituted panel by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party had conducted the state governorship primary through which Senator John Owan Enoh emerged as the standard bearer of the party, and wondered how anyone would be talking about another governorship primary.
According to Chief Wilfred Inah, “in the constitution of the APC, there is a section that deals with the powers of certain organs of the party such as the National Working Committee. The provision states that NWC shall organize primary election for the nomination of presidential, governorship, National and state House of Assembly candidates.”
He said the NWC “set up a 7-man panel led by Senator Ali Magaji. They came to Cross River state and conducted the primaries and declared Senator Owan Enoh winner. So, one may wonder which committee conducted the other primary. Whoever says there was another primary apart from the one conducted by the panel set up by the NWC is deceiving himself.
“The party should start disciplinary action against anybody involved in that fraud. Those involved should face disciplinary action for anti-party activities, for dishonesty, for impersonation and for indiscipline.”
He reiterated that no other organ of the party except the NWC has the powers to set up a panel to conduct governorship primaries.
Sir Maurice Effiwatt, a retired permanent secretary and member of Southern Senatorial District APC support group for Owan Enoh's governorship election, said “what is bad is bad. What is illegal is illegal. What Usani did was illegal and the party has mechanisms for dealing with acts of insubordination, indiscipline and criminality. Let the law take its course.”
On the way forward for APC in the state, he said “the way forward now is that we need one, united party to work towards dislodging the current wretched government from power in 2019.”
The state chairman of the party, Dr. Mathew Achigbe, strongly condemned what Usani did.
According to him, “it is very wrong for anyone to disregard the party's constitution by doing things that do not follow due process.”
Asked the extent to which the party would go to sanction the minister, he said “I won't determine the extent sanction will be taken against him. His fate will be determined by the degree of his loyalty to the party.
“I have set up a reconciliation committee to redress the grievances of members. Rather than take advantage of it, he went to the extent of conducting a parallel primary. This goes against the provisions of our constitution.
“There are internal mechanisms to address what he has done and I will go the whole hog to explore those mechanisms. I will make sure justice is done. Usani should not stay outside and be throwing stones. I will follow due process in ensuring that discipline is brought to bear.”
Achigbe further stated: “I don't know from where he derives his strength to do what he does, certainly not from the APC. What he is doing is enough for him to be expelled from the party. When you meet him, he tells you that he owns APC. How can someone who loves the party engage in activities that are inimical to the progress of the party?
“He is killing our party at a time we are preparing for the 2019 general elections.”
A stalwart of the party, Cletus Obun, described the illegal parallel primary as a “juvenile political act, extremely childish. It is a political comic relief, a side attraction. You can't just get up and conduct governorship primary because party officials who conduct primaries are picked by the national leadership of the party.”
Speaking further on the fate that could befall the minister, he said by that action the minister stands expelled going by the constitution of the party.
“Do you know what it means to declare yourself a governorship candidate of a political party illegally? His action is capable of generating violence,” he said.