The Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has commended the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for obeying court order and the swearing in Mr. Stephen Ntukekpo, as the duly elected executive of the party in Akwa Ibom State.
The Ntukekpo-led faction is the faction Akpabio belongs to in the state.
But the immediate past Secretary of the APC Caretaker /Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator John Akpanudoedehe, has written to the National Legal Adviser of the party not to interfere with his appeal currently at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.
Akpanudoedehe had earlier threatened to sue Adamu for going ahead to swear in Ntukekpo-led faction of the state APC as the duly elected executive, saying it was done in breach of an order of the Court of Appeal, which had ordered maintenance of status quo.
Fielding questions from journalists after meeting with Adamu at the national headquarters of the party yesterday in Abuja, Akpabio insisted that what the chairman of the party did was to obey the rule of law.
Akpabio rhetorically asked: which party was Akpanudoedehe threatening to sue?
According to him, “It depends on which party. Is he suing the party in Akwa Ibom or suing the party in Anambra, or suing the party at national? Which one?
“We are all sticklers to the rule of law, and the party at the national level obeys the rule of law and I believe strongly that it is better to have a country that is made of people, who obey the law than people of strong men.”
The Minister noted that he didn’t want to comment on the issue, because the matter was still before the court of law, however, stated: “But I want to thank the National Working Committee of our great party for being law abiding and for adhering to judicial pronouncement. The cause had given the chairmanship of the party and the leadership of the party in Akwa Ibom to an individual and other persons.
”The candidate the congresses produce, we don’t want to go into the merit and demerits of who won, who did not win but because we are in court. We are going to abide by court orders as stated in the court of appeal has already dismissed the appeal brought forward by the party.”
Akpabio noted that the party leadership withdrew from all appeals as regards the issue of Akwa Ibom and the NWC enjoined party leaders in the state to make peace.
“So, the question of somebody was sworn in somebody was not sworn in, we must not forget the fact that we have another opportunity in democracy to ventilate your thoughts. If you think you are not carried along, you go to Court and if you go to Court and the court said maintain status quo, everybody knows the meaning of status quo.
“It means the consequential orders to ensure the swearing-in of the new chairman, because the APC has withdrawn from that appeal. The status quo must be maintained, which means swear in and obey the court order and the party has done that. I want to urge my leader let’s go home and also abide by the party’s decision to ensure harmony and peace.”
Asked if he would be contesting presidency 2023, Akpabio said as a minister, part of his duties was to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari ends his administration well.
“People have mention my name? You know I’m a minister of the federal Republic of Nigeria and I work with the president, who is very focused and I’m determined to ensure that he ends well. So, my job as a minister of Niger Delta is to continue to interact with stakeholders for the Niger Delta.
“So, there is no doubt that my job has not ended, my job is to continue to support Mr president not just to ensure the completion of his legacy projects but also to ensure that his projects and legacy leads beyond 2023,” he said.
But the former secretary, in a letter to the National Legal Adviser, warned against interference as the appeal was already sub-judice before the Court of Appeal.
Akpanudoedehe urged him to take cognizance of the fact that he was the one at the center of the litigation and not the party, hence he has the constitutional right to proceed with the case.
He explained that his desire to appeal against the judgment of the trial court was borne out of his belief that the judgment of the trial court was not only given without jurisdiction on the state of the law in Nigeria today but was also perverse.
“What is more, if you refer to the affidavit supporting the originating summons at the trial court particularly paragraphs 18, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29, you would find that I was singled out as the one whose conduct was impeachable.
“Are you now suggesting that I should not exercise my constitutional right to vent my grievance against a judgment that impeached my conduct in office even when the National convention, had vindicated our administration simply, because I am now out of that office? Or are you saying that the new Secretary will adopt any supposedly impeachable act of my office as part of his own official act? I think not,” he said.