Edozie Njoku, former National Chair of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, shares his perspective DIRISU Yakub On feud with Chief Victor Oy and more
many Nigerians are concerned that APGA has failed to deploy its internal conflict resolution mechanism to resolve the leadership crisis between you and Chief Victor Oy. Why are stakeholders in your party silent while the crisis persists?
you are right. That’s what we’ve been trying to end up in the APGA. APGA turned into a similar party because most of the time we have only one governor in Anambra state. Many leaders are taken care of at the Governor’s House in Oka. They usually provide the car, monthly fees, and more. I have nothing against it. But what it has done is, some have been paying close attention to where the governor’s legs are. If the governor’s direction is wrong, it will be difficult for them to speak up. They all know that the truth is on our side; they all know that everything we do is right, but it’s hard for them to intervene when the butterflies are on the other side.
Due to the poor political leadership of Victor Oye and Willy Obiano, most political stakeholders moved to other parties. They have their own influence over what is going on in the party, but they will be the first to deny it. APGA’s crisis ended the day the Supreme Court delivered its decision. That’s why Oye peacefully nominated Charles Soludo and why we were successfully sworn in as Governor because the crisis is over. Just because the governor is seated doesn’t mean that I, the winner, shouldn’t go to my seat.
The Supreme Court made a mistake and we asked them to review it because it made a mistake. So we called and asked and begged the Supreme Court to review their judgment again because they made a mistake. They investigated this and corrected the error. Not only did they come out and say the error had been corrected, we already had an admission order four months after the presiding judge retired. The second in command did sign our registration order, which was an enforcement order against us.
After all of this, Chief Justice Victor Oyer still continues to call the amendments and the retired Chief Justice’s letter false to the point that we are being sued for forgery and all sorts of things. The creators of the document say it’s not us, we didn’t falsify anything. You see his letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria saying ‘Njoku is a fraud; I falsified this and falsified that’. It’s not good to do something like this just because it’s judged against you.
Considering that the election is only a few months away, is the works council you lead ready to tackle this issue in the interests of the party? Can you work with Victor Oye to build a stronger APGA for Nigeria?
You see, politics is politics, and when you do any negotiation, you have to consider the interests of the people. Whatever we negotiate, we must be considered the main parties because the Supreme Court is on our side. After the Federal High Court said our convention was the proper convention, I came out and said I was ready to step down and Oyer should step down so we could find someone else to lead the party. I said this on Arise TV. When they had primaries, we had primaries. So, all those people who completed the primary motion on our side, are you saying they should go home? You see, it’s more complicated than that, and it requires us to sit at a round table and decide the way forward, because we can’t hide our heads in the sand and think that by yelling, insulting people, and making charges, you’re prosecuting them and putting them on false charges. Going to court would change everything. It doesn’t work that way.
What happens if the Independent National Electoral Commission fails to give you the recognition you crave?
INEC has no choice as we are talking to them and they sound more positive now. They have noticed that when I was suspended by a lower court and Jude Okeke was court promoted to National Chair in the same court in Jigawa, Jude Okeke was immediately endorsed by INEC. In the same case, Oye went to the appeals court and what the chief justice said was on the wrong track began. Oye was involved in judgment everywhere, which is how he took over as APGA national president. When we get to the Supreme Court now, the Supreme Court says the case has been dismissed outright and we should reinstate it, and (Justice Mary) Odilli herself, as Chief Justice, says my removal was unfair. This is not an ambiguous statement, but a clear statement of judgment.
Where is Jude Okeke?
Jude Okeke was a member of our party, but you know that at the convention where Chekwas Okorie became a presidential candidate, he and four others were expelled;
Victor Oye has always believed that Judge Odili should not have written to you himself. That’s why he insisted that the letter was not from a retired Supreme Court justice.
All the retired Supreme Court justice did was reply to an email I wrote her because she was the chief justice affecting the correction of the sentence. She copied CJN, reminding him that she was a member of the panel. She also pointed out that although now retired, the revision of the sentence is real. Is Oye saying she shouldn’t reply to my letter because she is retired now?
Famous politicians such as Enyinnaya Abaribe, Frank Nweke Jnr joined APGA a few months ago. Have you contacted them about possible interventions in the crisis?
The reason these people haven’t contacted me is that I haven’t been accredited by INEC yet, but I know they are members of APGA. As soon as INEC recognizes us, we will contact them as soon as they are our members. Currently, APGA only looks factionalized at a high level. Under the hood, APGA is APGA. The moment INEC gives us endorsement, all the new members of the party, stakeholders will work with us to create synergies that make us a unique party.
Are aspirants who choose nomination form from your NWC worried about this development?
They are not worried. When they bought their form we weren’t accredited by INEC, but they knew we’d get it eventually. People on the other side also come to us to buy their forms because they know where the truth is. If for any reason they knew we were not being treated well, they would speak up.
Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo recently ruled out the APGA’s participation in Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election. According to him, only the People’s Democratic Party and the National Progressive Congress are capable of winning seats. How did you feel hearing the party leader speak in this way?
I will ask Nigerians, especially Igbo, to forgive Soludo. As a politician and southeasterner, Peter Obi and former APGA Governor, please remember that everyone who came to the election believed they were going to win, and as an APGA Governor, you can’t tell us that only the PDP and the APC are likely to win. It also comes down to what’s going on in the APGA. What is happening at the APGA should not be ignored. The problem is serious and should be taken seriously. Sometimes, when people make a statement in the media, the results may not be what they want. Still, Soludo’s bluntness is unnecessary. He should just wish Peter Obie the best.
Many Nigerians, especially those of voting age, are excited about the new electoral law, which provides for checkmate rigging and electoral irregularities. What concerns do you have about the 2023 polls?
Before INEC got involved in the APGA crisis, I had a high opinion of INEC, but from what I’ve seen, the legal department staff could advise the opposite; I’m afraid because it was the legal department that advised the committee to recognize Jude Okeke, admitting that Owerri Convention. If you check the guys at INEC’s legal department, you will need to call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to start investigating the accounts of the people whose fate we hold in their hands.
Are you accusing financial crime?
We start making allegations when we investigate, and if we find something that is out of the ordinary, we speak up. We have to start paying attention to the cars they drive, the houses they buy. We should piss them off and Nigerians should stand up because these people are deciding our destiny.
Let them immediately recognize the Owerri convention with Jude Okeke, now they are delaying doing the same to me, as a reporter, don’t you worry? This is very worrying. If for such a trivial matter, some figures in the legal department can set up such a stumbling block on the judicial path, what do you think will happen in the general election? We are in trouble.
So for the first time I appealed to the national chair of the committee to look into his legal department and ask why they gave Jude Okeke the endorsement on the Owerri convention when he ousted Njoku. But now, the Supreme Court has finished the entire case and said that he should go back to his seat, and you don’t recognize him anymore. What kind of report are you writing because you’re writing for Jude Okeke. I have nothing against INEC, but we need to shine a light on them because at the moment, they are very important people in this country, they decide whether we go left or right.
I am uncomfortable because Jude Okeke can suspend me, get a court verdict in distant Jigawa state, INEC immediately sanctioned Owerri assembly.
As soon as we got to the appeals court, Oyer’s name was entered; the Supreme Court justice described one of these things as a wrong track. Mistakes started with filing a lawsuit behind my back in Jigawa State, removing me from office, and then the appeals court putting Oye’s name in a decision in a case he was never involved in, and then appealing to the Supreme Court because there’s so much confusion out there that we Still the way it is today. Luckily for us, the Supreme Court did a very marvelous thing and politely corrected their mistake, but Oye was there yelling “false” and INEC didn’t recognize the same they admitted in the lower courts Judgment, appealed in federal court, they didn’t do that in Supreme Court.
Nigeria should call them out and ask them why you recognized Jude Okeke and not Njoku in the lower courts while the Supreme Court dismissed the matter and warned Jude Okeke and Co that removing Chief Edozie Njoku is not justice, which means they even Can’t I be deported first in court? These are the problems. We cannot talk about peace when people willfully disregard justice. I love the APGA and those who claim to love it as much as I do should demonstrate their passion for the party by supporting truth and justice. I would like to take this opportunity to once again call on Governor Charles Soludo to intervene in this matter so that together we can defend the common front and move our party to Nigerians in the 2023 elections. We can’t talk about doing the right thing at a national level, and internally, the APGA is bleeding because so few people believe they will always get their way.