Innocent Ushie is the immediate past assistant welfare officer of the APC in Cross River State. He is currently in court against his party for what he calls the malpractices during the ward congresses that was conducted by the party some weeks ago, which culminated in the state congresses already concluded.
Ushie wants the court to annul the ward congresses across the state and by extension, every other APC congress that took place in the state. In this interview, he expressed the hope that the court would, in February next year, rule in his favour.
What is the implication of the on-going court case between you and the APC case, vis-à-vis, the state congresses that have already been conducted?
You know I went to court because of the ward congresses. Our prayers there in court is that the court should nullify the ward congresses, and if the ward congresses are nullified, the implication is that both the chapter, the local government chapter and the state and even the national convention will equally be nullified.
The delegates that emanate from the ward congress that we are attacking produced delegates who voted at the chapter; the same process again produced state delegates who came again and voted. So, if I get judgment and the judgment favours me, it means that all those things will all be nullified.
How will that affect the national convention?
Now, we are equally attacking Mai Mala Buni and his caretaker exco. They are unlawful; they are not known to law. You read that the Electoral Act, the constitution and even the APC constitution, the APC constitution does not recognize any caretaker, they only talk about two standing committees; the finance committee and publicity committee and then adhoc committee, but not that an adhoc committee will now begin to do a job of major officers of the party. So, we are equally attacking Buni, that Buni is not known to law, both the constitution of Nigeria and the constitution of APC. So, he’s an illegal occupant of that office. So, anything Buni will do, even the Anambra election, all is supposed to be affected, anything Buni signs. Buni is an illegal occupant, he is not known to law. So we are equally attacking Buni and it is Buni who put up the notice for congresses.
Let’s focus on Cross River State. You are saying that everybody elected from ward to the state level are all illegal occupants of those offices.
(cuts in) Illegal occupants of those offices because the 2018 congresses that produced Oshiomhole led exco is still on; their tenure is still on, they never went to court, nobody went to court to say okay court should sack those people. So the court never sacked Oshiomhole led exco from ward to the national.
But that’s not part of your prayers in the court.
They are part of my case; we’re saying that all parties are bound by the rules of INEC. From 2018 to last year, 25th of June, it’s just two years and some months. So the other people who were there, their tenure is still running by implication. So you can’t just come from nowhere and push them out.
What is the way forward now, what do you think is the way forward, because with your action it means everything may grumble if the court grant you your prayers.
Yes, if the court grants my prayers, the implication is that the old excos will return and complete their tenure, before they can now pick, the old people will come onboard complete their tenure and then start a new process of conducting fresh congresses. All these ones they are doing, I think it’s just waste of time, to my mind.
Has the governor who is now the leader of the party in the state or any other person or group of persons approached you for some kind of out of court settlement?
Not at all.
Are you open to out of court settlement?
Why not? I’m a party man and the governor is the leader of the party. I give it to him, he is our leader, so any day, any moment, my door is open; I’m open for any discussion.
Do you think the governor is daring you, telling you, you can go to hell?
No, my brother. I can’t pre-empt the governor’s mind. His Excellency is a busy man, that office is a big one, a busy office. So maybe he has not been briefed about the actions. Sometimes, some people who work, some of his aides will just see this matter as matters that they can just handle on his behalf.
So, what’s the situation with that matter now in the court, what was the last thing that happened in court?
The matter is for judgment.
Sometime in February.
What you are saying is that the trial has ended, now waiting for judgment.
Yes, waiting for judgment as at yesterday. Addresses were adopted yesterday.
So judgment is for January?
It’s for February.
But by then the PDP convention and everything would have taken place. So?
Yeah! Like I said, if the judgment is to my favour, or if my prayers are granted, it will affect all those things. I am trying to protect this party because I love this party because if we don’t get it right, tomorrow when people are running for state house, governor, national assembly and the rest, PDP will simply go to court and say look, the APC in Cross River State or APC in Nigeria as a whole does not have officials known to law; they will begin to go into these issues and we may not be safe. So, I expect that the party should even applaud me for what I am doing. I’m insisting that we should get it right, let’s have a good foundation so that when we go out for elections in 2023, our people, those who will have tickets, will be fine because anything short of that, it will amount to wasting of time and a nullity.
If by February you lose, would you now surrender or would you want to pursue up to the Supreme Court?
(laughs) Well, I think February is still a long time. We have about 90 days to that time. So, why not we just wait until when we get the result of the judgment. By the time we get it, however it is, we will study and we will know if we will progress from there, or if we will shut down, we will know.
I want to know if this is a fight you intend to take to the end?
(laughs) well, You know you asked me one question, you asked me if I am ready for out of court settlement and I said yes, that I am ready for any discussion, no problem. And so when we get to that time, we are not fighting to destroy the party, we are fighting to see that the right thing is done. So, when it gets to that time….
My question is simple. Have you told yourself that however it happens you would end the case at the lower court or have you told yourself that this battle must be taken to the end, to its logical conclusion?
Yeah! I will take it to the logical conclusion.
Meaning you have made up your mind to fight to finish, until the Supreme Court rules on this matter?
Yeah,. However the judgment is, whatever it may be, I think I have capacity to follow the matter. My legal team are set to do, but however they will advise me when the time comes, they will advise me when the time comes on the way forward.