Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo State, was last week suspended as National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by the Court of Appeal. In this interview with Channels Television monitored by TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, Oshiomhole speaks on the ruling of the appellate court, crisis in APC and the forthcoming Edo State governorship poll
How would you react to your suspension by the Court of Appeal, which upheld your suspension by your ward in Edo State?
The judiciary is an independent arm of government. When they hand out judgements, it is not for you to choose whether to obey or not. I accept the judgement in good faith. I am a product of the judiciary and I always tell people that if I am not a culprit today, it is courtesy of a courageous bench and a very resourceful bar. All my life has been a life of struggle; people have always oppressed and harassed me and the court has always come to my aid, even my being a governor was courtesy of the court.
So, I accepted the judgement in good faith and my lawyer will advise having studied the judgement on the next line of action. So, at this point I will just thank the lordship for their judgements and look forward to my lawyers advising me on what should be the next line of action if there should be any line of action.
Are you talking to you lawyers to appeal the ruling of the appellate court at the Supreme Court?
What I do next would be based on legal advice and my lawyers will act on that. I don’t think I need to communicate it through the television. It is a relationship between a lawyer and his client and I think we should leave it at that.
How would you react to the position of your party’s National Deputy Secretary, Victor Gaidom, claiming to be the acting national chairman of APC and reversing some of the decisions of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) in respect to Edo State governorship primaries?
As for what I heard about my brother, Victor Gaidom, saying; until 7.pm last Tuesday, I remained the national chairman of APC. And before then, the governor of Edo State (Godwin Obaseki) had voluntarily resigned his membership of our party and that resignation has been accepted. The screening has been completed and all that was left was done on Wednesday by members of the NWC.
We are 21 members and since the court suspended me or upheld what they described as the suspension by my ward, which is another matter, I did not attend that meeting in obedience to the court of law in respect to the judgement of the Court of Appeal. But the court did not suspend the functioning of the National Working Committee and the constitution of the party states clearly that in the absence of the chairman, who act as chairman and the rest of it.
The NWC as I am told and read in the media as well, met and about 16 out of 20 took some decisions to ensure that all attempt to scuttle the forthcoming primaries in Edo was not done and was not successful and they went ahead to appoint a Primary Election Committee that will conduct the election and to ensure that it is done creditably. In their wisdom, they appointed a governor to chair the panel as the returning officer along with other eminent members of the party that have been given that assignment by the NWC. I was not there because in obedience to the court order, I have to stay away.
But my advice to my brother, Victor Giadom, is that it is about common sense. The court can only interprete the rules of the party and the constitution of Nigeria. In the absence of the national chairman, it should be deputy and in the absence of the deputy, it is the vice-chairman. How does a deputy secretary come in? As we speak, we have a secretary sitting in the office working late hour to ensure that the secretariat functions.
I think my brother, Victor Giadom, wants to take our party to the route of Rivers State, where they created so much problems that as we speak today, in Rivers, we have crisis. My plea with them is that they should put God first and put our party interest second and put our democracy deep in their heart and not try to use any externality to destablise our party the way it has been destabilised in Rivers State.
Everybody, including the overall leader of our party, President Muhammadu Buhari, knows that we all try to resolve issues amicably as provided for within the constitution of our party. How can a deputy national secretary, assuming he was still one claimed to be chairman. For me, these are not my problems now. What really concerns me at this point even if I am not an officer of the party? I remain a member and I am very familiar and conversant with the provisions of the constitution.
What are you doing now?
I am resting in obedience to the court order. I am reflecting and I am consulting with my lawyers. I am satisfied that I am doing what I should be doing but however the point need to be made just for the benefit of our teaming members and even for Nigerians who are interested on how political party functions in our country. Our party is not an amorphous organisation, it is a structured organisation based on rules and regulations and based on a constitution, which was verified by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and on the basis of which we transact the business of APC.
I was allegedly suspended by a ward and the Court of Appeal in its wisdom has now upheld that suspension. The NWC as an organ of the party was never taken to court. There is no judicial pronouncement to the extent that NWC no longer exists. The court has not frozen the constitution of APC. The court actually quoted copiously sections of the APC constitution and for me; the business of APC can only be managed on the basis of the constitution of the APC.
I think there are people who are determined to encourage this crisis to perpetuate their own agenda. I just listened to Victor Giadom saying he has rejected the decision of the APC screening committee set up by NWC for Edo governorship primaries. The panel was appointed by the NWC; the appeal panel was also appointed by the NWC and the decision to accept the recommendations was taken by NWC. That NWC is valid. The decision was not taken by one man.
It is unfair for him to think that anybody, including myself whether in suspension or out of suspension or even as a sitting chairman, I do not have the power and I have not exercised such power to set aside decisions taken by the National Working Committee. No individual can set aside the decision of the National Working Committee and I am shocked that Victor Giadom can claim as a national deputy secretary, whose position is even in contest whether having resigned from the office and has not been nominated back. You walk out of your job, you resigned and we accepted the resignation and you say you have returned back. That is a matter for another day.
Even if he is a substantive and legal deputy national secretary or according to him he has been imposed as acting national chairman or whatever authority he has quoted, that does not give him power as sole administrator or a military administrator to set aside democratically taken decisions with minutes. I just want to appeal that if anybody wants to create confusion within the party, the media should not aide such person.