Senator Representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe has said that disobedience to court order at the root of Rivers APC Crisis.
The Senator said this while appearing in Arise TV this morning.
He said, “I think it’s really quite simple and not as complicated as it would sound for those who are aware of what the facts are.
To begin with, we need to look at the origin of the “crisis” that you are talking about. What happened was that when we held the party’s congresses across the country, in Rivers State the party gave the same opportunity for those who were interested in holding positions, they were to pay money to the bank and then go to the party to collect forms with the tellers they got from the banks and participate in the congresses.
But in Rivers State, the Minister of Transportation decided that those he considered not loyal to him were no longer part of the party and would not be allowed to participate in the congresses. There is no provision for that in the constitution of the APC.
Almost 16,000 members of the party went to the bank, bought their tellers and they were denied forms. They were not allowed to participate in that congress. So they went to court with their tellers to say this is what is happening to us and the court made an order to the party to say “hold on, let’s look into this complain of exclusion that had been brought these gentlemen”.
The state chapter of the party loyal to the Minister went on National Television to announce that they would not obey the court order. That was the beginning of the crisis.
They went ahead and held that first congress and others. When the court saw that, the court went ahead to set aside those congresses. That issue was still lingering in the court when we were to go into the primaries.
At the National Executive Committee meeting of the party, the National Chairman himself being aware of these existing legal challenges announced in NEC that Rivers State would be one of the states where the party would have to hold Direct Primaries because of the lingering legal issues arising from the exclusion of people from the congresses that were held.
Despite that announcement, the same exco that had been voided by the court went ahead to submit a request to the party for indirect primaries on the instructions of the Minister.
The legal, valid exco of the party held its own State Executive meeting and submitted the proper and only legal submission that could come out of Rivers State which was the request for Direct Primaries.
For some reasons, despite the fact that the party had earlier held the position that Rivers State would have to be direct, at the last minute the NWC came up with a position that it would be indirect because that was what the Minister wanted.
Those of us who are lawyers know that the first thing you learn in law school is a case we used to call UAC V MacFoy which says you can’t put something on nothing and expect it to stand. So we were quite worried that if we go ahead with that given the legal position that this exco and that request and the entire process is standing on nothing, we would end up with a situation where Rivers State will be legally knocked out of the general election because of that situation, so the state executive of the party decided to go ahead and conduct direct primaries so that the party will have a legal basis to participate in the general election.
And true to that prediction, that is of course what happened. As soon as they went ahead with the indirect primaries with delegates drawn from the voided congresses, the High Court with which they were contending set aside the entire exercise that produced Mr. Cole. The Court of Appeal has at this moment dismissed the appeal against the judgement of the High Court.
So the situation is that the only legal primaries that was conducted in Rivers State within the ambit of the law was the direct primaries that was conducted by the State executive of the party. So that is the position. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. It’s really quite simple and straightforward.”