Benue APC crisis: Alia’s camp shuns NWC as deadline elapses

The internal crisis rocking the Benue State chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has continued to worsen, with no end in sight.

This is as the camp loyal to the state governor, Governor Hyacinth Alia has failed to heed the directive from the National Working Committee, NWC, to withdraw all legal actions initiated by party members within the stipulated seven-day period.

DAILY POST reports that the leadership crisis has festered since the inauguration of the new government led by Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia, with no apparent resolution in sight.

The fight within the Benue State APC deepened with Governor Alia’s reported strained relationship with the party’s state leader and current Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, leading to a stark division among members.

While the State Party Chairman, Austin Agada and a majority of the executive committee members continue to pledge loyalty to Akume, a minority has sided with Governor Alia, further fueling the internal strife.

The war worsened when Dan Onjeh, the APC senatorial candidate in the 2023 Benue South election and a staunch supporter of Governor Alia, filed a petition against Agada before the APC national leadership.

Onjeh accused Agada of undermining the party’s interests during the previous election.

In response, the former Ward Chairman of Ehaje 1, Owukpa, who now serves as a Supervisory Councillor with Ogbadibo LGA, announced Agada’s suspension.

However, the national body swiftly nullified the suspension.

Subsequently, Benjamin Omakolo, the State Welfare Secretary, was purportedly appointed as the acting chairman of the party in the state.

Yet, the party’s disciplinary committee in Apa LGA later suspended Omakolo over allegations of fund misappropriation, gross insubordination and persistent failure to pay party dues.

The faction aligned with the governor secured a court order from the State High Court in Makurdi, restraining Agada from functioning as the party chairman.

However, a ruling by the Benue State High Court, led by the Chief Judge, Justice Maurice Ikpambese, reinstated Agada as the party chairman, citing legal timelines.

Justice Ikpambese noted that according to Order 39, Rule 3 of the Benue State High Court Procedure Rules, 2023, the interim order’s seven-day lifespan had lapsed since its issuance on February 2, 2024.

This legal back-and-forth has plunged the Benue State APC into a protracted legal battle, prompting the national APC to issue a one-week ultimatum for members to cease their internal conflicts and withdraw all ongoing court cases.

In a resolution signed by the National Secretary, Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru, the APC threatened to suspend or expel members failing to comply.

The NWC ordered the embattled state chairman, Austin Agada, and the governor to ensure full adherence.

Despite this directive, our reporter observed that the faction loyal to Governor Alia has yet to withdraw the case from court.

In fact, the faction loyal to the governor has inaugurated a parallel executive to lead the party.

This was evident in a recent statement by Dan Onjeh, a loyalist to the governor, who criticised the party’s national Chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje, and the NWC for their stance on the Benue party crisis.

Onjeh’s letter cited the NWC’s failure to address his petition, branding it as siding with injustice within the Benue State APC.

He demanded that the NWC either adhered to the party’s constitution or resign within seven days, asserting the rights of progressive APC members in the state.

“Let me state categorically that as long as the NWC fails to abide by the party constitution, we, the progressive members of the APC in Benue State, shall not abide by its directives. We shall not withdraw any case in court as we cannot be gagged into silence nor be cowed into submitting our necks to the slaughter slaps of injustice.

“Ubi jus ubi remedium is a Latin legal maxim that translates to ‘where there is a right, there is a remedy.’ It encapsulates the principle that when a legal right is violated, the law provides a corresponding remedy or relief to the aggrieved party,” Onjeh stated.

However, when contacted by DAILY POST, Agada stated that he had instructed all parties who took the party to court to withdraw their cases in deference to the national body’s directive.

He expressed shock at the defiance of some governor’s loyalists against the NWC order.

“I am not in court against anybody; in fact, they were the ones that initiated legal action against us,” Agada said.

“Nevertheless, I have issued a circular mandating the withdrawal of all court cases following the national body’s directive.

“We seek peace within the party, yet some are reluctant to embrace this path.

“There is no question about who is the APC chairman in Benue; I remain the only chairman of the party. There is no faction anywhere,” he said.

Meanwhile, amid the deadlock, Governor Alia has reiterated his allegiance to the NWC.

Benue APC crisis: Alia’s camp shuns NWC as deadline elapses

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