John Alechenu and Chidiebube Okeoma
The screening appeal sub-committee of the National Convention Committee of the All Progressives Congress has commenced sitting.
The panel, which is headed by the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, on Thursday, asked all aggrieved aspirants to forward their grievances to the committee.
One of our correspondents gathered that the screening committee submitted an interim report which the appeals’ committee is working with.
Petitioners were asked to submit a list of their grievances in writing. Each petitioner is also expected to support his/her petition with “concrete and verifiable evidence” of a breach of the party’s constitution and guidelines for the just-concluded screening exercise.
Petitions are to be submitted to the Imo State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, not later than 12 noon on Saturday, June 16, 2018.
A member of the committee, who asked not to be named because of the confidential nature of the exercise, said, “We have started receiving petitions, it is too early to give a number at this moment because we just started and some of our members have to travel for this short break.”
It was however unclear as of the time of filing this report if the screening committee disqualified any aspirant.
When contacted, the Secretary of the APC National Convention Committee, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, confirmed that the Governor Masari-led committee had submitted an interim report.
He said, “Yes, the committee has submitted an interim report and the Appeals Committee should be meeting by now.”
The Governor Bello Masari-led screening committee was expected to have concluded its assignment on Tuesday.
Masari, told reporters that about 179 aspirants obtained nomination forms to contest various positions in the June 23rd national convention of the party.
6,800 delegates to elect APC NWC members on June 23
Meanwhile, about 6,800 delegates are expected to participate in the national elective convention of the APC scheduled to hold in Abuja on June 23.
Ndoma-Egba, said this in an interview with newsmen, in Abuja, on Thursday.
He dismissed speculations that paucity of funds might compel the party to shift the convention date.
According to him, preparations are in top gear and everything is going on as planned.
He said the party was doing everything possible to resolve issues in states where ward, local government and state congresses had become controversial.
In response to a question on speculations about a possible shift in the date for the convention, the former Senate Leader said, “It is not correct. The convention will hold on the 23rd of June as planned. Nothing has happened to suggest the contrary. So, I can say categorically that the convention is going ahead.
“We are expecting about 6,800 plus delegates. Of course, you know that we will have observers, vendors, the media, and entertainers. In all, you should expect about 8,000 people.”
On the issue of disputed congresses, Ndoma-Egba said, “We are hoping to resolve those issues before the convention, especially in states where we have court processes.
“We are working to resolve them in one way or the other. This is politics and at the end of the day, you must leave a window open for harmonisation and reconciliation.”
He also used the occasion to comment on the screening of the 179 aspirants who indicated interest in contesting for the 43 national offices.
The secretary said “The screening committee finished its assignment yesterday (Wednesday). As we speak, the screening appeals committee is sitting.
“After the screening, there is the appeals panel to review the cases of those who feel aggrieved with the outcome of the screening committee assignment.
“You cannot know the outcome until the appeals committee finishes its work. The screening appeals committee is sitting and until that committee completes its work, I cannot give you a number of those screened out or screened in. There is still a process going on.”
He said, for now, the convention committee did not have a funding challenge but that it was still expecting contributions from stakeholders.
He, however, did not give further details.
Ndoma-Egba also described as untrue allegations that the committee was under pressure from the Presidential Villa.
Court fixes June 26 for hearing Imo APC congress suit
Meanwhile, the crisis occasioned by the outcome of the congresses of the Imo State chapter of the APC deepened on Thursday as the Federal High Court in Owerri shifted the date for the hearing of the case from June 22 to June 26.
A faction of the party loyal to Governor Rochas Okorocha had on May 18, through its lawyer, Chiedozie Ogunji (SAN), approached the court, urging it to among other prayers, issue an interim order stopping the APC national leadership from going on with the ward and state congresses.
Though the order was granted, the defendants went ahead to conduct the congresses which produced Hilary Ekeh who was sworn in by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun in Abuja as the APC chairman in the state .
The defendants – APC state working committee and the National Organising Secretary of the party, Osita Izunaso, had on Thursday through it counsel, Kelvin Nwufor, (SAN), sought a shift in the earlier agreed date of June 22 to June 26.
The demand for a new date that would allow the hearing to take place after the APC national convention scheduled for June 23, made the lawyers to engage themselves in serious exchange of words.
While Ogunji said the change would affect the matter because the APC National Convention was billed for June 23, Izunaso’ counsel, Kelvin Nwufor (SAN), urged the court not to hear the case in haste.
But the presiding judge, Justice Lewis Allagoa, contented that the shift in the date would not affect the outcome of the case as the suit “is not a perishable one.”
Adjourning the matter, the judge said. “Whether the APC national convention holds on June 23 or not does not affect the judgment of the court or the interim injunction earlier granted. This matter is not perishable. We have had cases where people went ahead and disobeyed orders of the court and at the end of the matter, the court throws them out.”
The Justice had on May 18 issued an order that status quo be maintained until the matter, with Suit No FHC/OW/CS/69/2018 is determined.
Speaking to newsmen, Ogunji said “The adjournment does not affect the earlier court order served the leadership of the APC and the respondents. The Order Court restraining the APC from recognising the defendants as elected ward, local government and state executives for Imo State APC, is still valid.”
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