BABATOPE OKEOWO reports on the suspension of the Ondo State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon. Duerimini Isaacs Kekemeke, which has brought to the fore the discrepancies in the ruling party’s constitution
Just as the 1999 constitution of Federal Republic Nigeria is characterised by many conflicting provisions that sometimes needs clarifications by the courts, the 2014 constitution of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is replete with similar contradictions especially as it concerns the removal of officers of the party.
The contradictory nature of the APC’s constitution came to the fore over the removal of the chairman of the party in Ondo State, Hon Duerimini Isaacs Kekemeke, by a section of the State Executive Committee (SEC) of the party.
Some members of the SEC had passed a vote of no confidence on Kekemeke for failing to discharge his responsibilities, neglect and dereliction of duty, among other offences, in compliance with Article 21(D)(vi), of the Constitution of the APC, October 2014 as amended.
Consequently, a three-man fact finding and disciplinary committee was set up to investigate the chairman.
The SEC members selected Mr. Ade Adetimehin as the state chairman of the party pending the outcome of report of the committee.
Members of the committee include Omo’ba Abayomi Adesanya (chairman), Rasheed Badmus (member) and Saka Yusuf-Ogunleye (secretary).
The committee immediately swung into action and invited the embattled chairman to answer charges preferred against him. But, Kekemeke rebuffed them, mocked the invitation and the vote of no confidence passed on him by the aggrieved members of the SEC.
He said in a statement: “I have been informed through calls by friends, associates and the social media that some members of the State Executive Committee of the party met in an hotel in Akure and purportedly passed a vote of no confidence on me – the only elected state officer – and have asked that Mr. Ade Adetimehin, my adopted deputy acts as chairman.
“This scandalous and irritating move prompted by ‘a promise of pot of porridge for the action’ by a segment of party executive, though not unexpected beats the imagination of many reasonable party people and non-party to victory.
“Sincerely, I wish I did not have to react to this remote-controlled, illegal and morally reprehensible conduct of some rancorous elements in the state executive, who had on many occasions traveled this ignoble path without success.
Honestly some of those guys, who am told, are acting this shameful script can never imagine how happy, peaceful and mentally relieving I should feel, being free from having to deal or associate with them as members of my team.
“Considering however, the many numerous calls and pleas from a wide spectrum of alienated party members who have expressed satisfaction and appreciation for our tedious pioneering efforts alongside others that earned our party victory through the 2015 to 2016 elections, I will respond for the collective good and health of our party.
In the mean time, I urge for calmness amongst party members, as well will take sober and appropriate steps to redirect the Party.” Kekemeke also wrote to the Sout- West Zonal Executive Committee of the party accusing Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of being behind the plot to remove him from office.
In a letter written to Chief Pius Akinyelure, South- West APC Zonal Chairman, Kekemeke said that the pre-primary crisis that produced Akeredolu as candidate and eventually winner of the election has not abated.
In his letter titled “Complaint of deployment of violent and unconstitutional means of taking over the Ondo State APC structure by certain elements,” the embattled chairman said: “We wish to draw the attention of the South-West Zonal Committee of the APC to the extremely dangerous; most unconscionable and unconstitutional actions of some members of the Ondo State.
Against the clear spirit and inten-tion of the Constitution of the All Progressives Congress 2014 as amended; a few members of the State Executive Committee purportedly met on June 1, 2017 in a hotel at Akure; allegedly suspended the state chairman of the party; and appointed the state deputy chairman as acting chairman.
“In the enforcement of this huge joke on the party; the Administrative Secretary of the party was violently dispossessed of all the keys to the offices in the Ondo State APC Secretariat with the assistance of law enforcement agents.
It must be noted however; that no meeting of the State Executive Committee was ever called by either the State Chairman or the State Working Committee; neither was there a complaint nor petition by any member against the Chairman or any other officer received; to necessitate the invoking of the disciplinary procedure as provided for by Artticle 21(B) of the APC Constitution.
“Clearly; this song with its familiar and cacophonic tune was scripted by Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, Governor of Ondo State, who has refused to break-away from the bitterness and vestige of the Ondo State APC gubernatorial primary election; and has therefore deployed state machinery to vilify perceived enemies; resulting in this latest choreography with a macabre sense of humour.
“We are however baffled that such a respected and respectable organ of our party created by the Constitution for noble ends; could be wrongly and maliciously appropriated by a few misguided and unqualified elements without regards to the clear constitutional requirements of the mode and composition of that organ.
“And most shockingly, with the active connivance of the state governor, who ought to know better, but is only bent on re-enacting his position immediately before the Ondo State APC gubernatorial primary election. We are quick to draw your attention to this ongoing political experiment because of the danger it poses to the health of our party in the state, zone and nation at large.
Your intervention in accordance with Article 13.5(i) and 21(B)(V) of the constitution of the party can prevent the implosion that is waiting to happen; just as we remain resolute to resist this war of attrition with its attendant consequences on our party now and in the future.”
But, the governor through his Special Assistant on Special Duties and Strategy, Mr. Doyin Odebowale and the Chairman of the party’s Disciplinary Committee, Adesanya denied his involvement in the crisis rocking the party.
They said: “It is ludicrous to note that Kekemeke described the process culminating in his suspension as fraudulent.
While we consider it puerile to descend to his level, we will not fail to note the deviousness he tried to veneer in his said letter.
In as much as we can assert that the governor is not connected remotely or otherwise with the present development in respect of the chairmanship of the party in Ondo State, we posit that no process could have been more legal than the meeting which determined Kekemeke’s queer leadership.
“The governor’s disposition against all indecent acts is well known. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) is too engaged with serious issues of social engineering to descend into a pigsty with its inhabitants.
This government will not be distracted. The governor has moved on since God ordained his victory at the last party primaries and the general election without the support of a disgruntled few.
“If a supposed leader of a ruling party does not attend meetings, party functions and appears to be collaborating with antagonistic and extraneous interests, actively, decency demands that he should quit his pretence. Aketi is content with being the governor of the good people of Ondo State.
This government will not be distracted.
“The governor has moved on since God ordained his victory at the last primaries and the general election without the support of disgruntled few. He has been receiving defectors from other parties into the fold of the ruling party and continues to admonish party faithful on the need to embrace all.
It is shocking that a man reputed for peace will be accused of sponsoring violence. “It is gratifying to note the subtle admission of failure by this strange general without troops.
He seems to depend on people outside the party structure in the state for his support.
He has accuses himself of the burden of leadership which, evidently, surpasses his capacity and his mental capabilities.
If a supposed leader of a ruling party does not attend meetings, party functions and appears to be collaborating with antagonistic and extraneous interests, actively, decency demands that he should quit his presence.
True democrat respects the will of the majority; only deluded potentials think and act otherwise. Aketi is content with being the governor of the good of Ondo State. This government will not be distracted.”
But the Legal Adviser of the party, Mr. Desmond Dayo Adejumola said all the efforts of Kekemeke’s traducers amount to exercise in futility as they did not enjoy the backing of the constitution for their action.
According to him Artcle 21 which provides legal basis for the discipline of officers of the party did not allow SEC members any role in the action. Article 21 (B) sub (D) title Discipline Procedure stated “the Zonal Committee shall be the adjudicatory body of first instance over complaints or allegations from State Chapter in the Zone. Sub (E) stated that “The National Executive Committee shall be the adjudicatory body over complains and allegations from the zones.”
However, in the same article 21 (B) (vi) that makes provision for the Punishment of Erring Members stated that “each organ of the party shall have power to remove a party officers as the case may be from office at that level for failing to discharge his/her responsibilities, neglect and dereliction of duty or misconduct during his tenure of office through a vote of no confidence passed against such officer/ officers by a two-third majority of the members of the appropriate organ and voting subject to such officer’s right to fair hearing.”
The chairman of the Disciplinary Committee, who is the Publicity Secretary of the party, said Kekemeke has refused to be served with the allegations against him. Adesanya said two attempts were made to deliver the invitation letter to Kekemeke.
According to Adesanya, “the first attempt was by the party’s clerk, Mr. Ige Akingbagboun and Mr. Felix Aborowa, who were in Kekemeke’s law office on Monday, June 5 to deliver the letter. Rather than receiving the letter, Kekemeke mobilised some men to beat up the duo of the party’s clerk and security guard.
The assault complaint on these gentlemen is currently pending with the police.
“We also attempted to deliver the letter by courier service, ACCOUNT/REF: CAHSAKW01/ 2017/06/05 and WAYBILL: 19 0135 7474, to him (Kekemeke) on same day, Monday, June 5th, 2017, but he refused to accept it from the DHL delivery man, and none of the workers in Atimati Chambers accepted the parcel.
Mr. Kekemeke should take note that, he will be made to also answer the allegation of masterminding the assault of lawful Party officials at his law office this day June 5, when he appears before our committee, as this conduct may constitute gross misconduct.
This will be in addition to the allegations contained in our referenced letter to him.”
Against the backdrop of the impasse, the question some party stakeholders are asking is: Should the people who made the allegations against Kekemeke be the same people to investigate and pass verdict on him?
Adesanya, Yusuf-Ogunleye and Raman are members of the SEC, who passed a vote of no confidence on the embattled chairman. They also constituted the Disciplinary Committee and appointed themselves as members to adjudicate on the allegations.
As a way out, many people are of the opinion that the Elders Committee of the party should wade into the crisis, which started before the party’s governorship primaries in September and is aimed at distracting governance in the Sunsine State.