· How PDP caused internal crisis in APC-Ochala
After many months of legal tussle, the court of appeal sitting in Abuja has finally resolved the leadership crisis of the Cross River State APC in favour of John Ochala.
The court upturned the initial verdict of a Bwari High Court which had recognised Mr Etim John as the chairman of the party and noted that the lower court had no jurisdiction ab intio, to handle intra part issues the way it did.
With the judgement, the party leadership in the state wants the state independent electoral commission, CROSIEC, to reverse itself and undo all that happened concerning list of candidates for the aborted local government elections.
The party chairman told TNN over the telephone on Thursday that the crisis was promoted by the ruling PDP in the state in order to weaken the opposition. But he added that the days of internal crisis were over.
Spokesman of the party, Mr Bassey Ita said in a telephone interview on Thursday that with the court of appeal judgement, the issue of factionalisation of the party in the state had been put to rest. He called on Etim John and his followers to come together to build the party in preparation for electoral battles ahead.
His position was corroborated by the party’s treasurer, Dr Chris Ojikpong, who declared in a separate interview that “the judgement means a lot to APC, CRS. The judgement means stability. The judgement means victory for the party.
“With this judgement, the brotherly quarrel has been properly adjudicated on and settled. The brotherly love will return and our march forward towards taking over CRS has commenced in earnest especially at this time that in the next couple of weeks, we will be heading into an election to replace the late Senator Rose Oko (Cross River North) who unfortunately passed on recently.
“With this judgement, the no individual or group is winner or loser but the party is the sure winner at the end of the day.”
John and his group had approached the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Bwari Division in suit NO.: FCT/HC/BW/106/2018 Sylvester Okpo $ others vs, seeking for recognition as the duly elected Cross River State Chapter, executives and delegates of the APC, emerging from congresses conducted on the 11th, 12th, 15th, 16th and 19th of May, 2018.
On the 13th of December, 2018, the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, per Musa J, granted their reliefs and further directed the APC to recognize and field candidates who emerged from primaries conducted by John for the 2019 general elections.
The development was said to have contributed heavily to the poor showing of the party during the general elections. It also affected the relationship between CROSIEC and the APC in the state, as the electoral umpire chose to deal with the John’s group.
In allowing the appeal and agreeing with the Ochala group, the Court of Appeal set aside the judgment of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and held that it had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit filed by the Respondents, as the subject matter of the suit was an intra-party affair and therefore not justiceable.
The Court of Appeal also held that the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja lacked territorial jurisdiction to entertain the suit being that it was in respect of intra party election into executive office of the Cross River State Chapter of the APC.