…describes the prosecution of Chief Edozie Njoku as a distasteful comedy skit.
Repugnant to Justice, Equity and Good Conscience.
By Chekwas Okorie
It may be time again to tell the story of APGA. I founded this party in 2002 after two attempts. My struggle to start a political party started in 1996. For some reason I failed twice; 1996 and 1998. On the third attempt I succeeded. The story of APGA and my travails are captured in my book: APGA and the Igbo Question.
Monday, November 28th, the National Chairman of APGA, Chief Edozie Njoku, will be in court to face charges bothering on forgery of a Supreme Court judgement.
Ordinarily we would consider a scenario where a disgruntled individual tells the police that a Supreme Court judgement is forged a distasteful comedy skit. But the Nigeria we live in now is such that people can ascribe to the highest court in the land things that are repugnant to justice, equity and good conscience and go scot free. Even administrative staff of courts can, by a mere statement, vitiate the judgments of the courts. What a time to live in Nigeria!
I heard someone claim that Chief Edozie Njoku is not a member of APGA. That was an astounding display of ignorance of the history of APGA. Njoku has been a long standing associate of mine, even during the years I tried to form a political party before the birthing of APGA.
Chief Edozie Njoku was the founding National Vice Chairman of APGA, SouthEast. I prevailed on him to step down for Victor Umeh and concentrate on his ambition to contest for House of Representatives from Onitsha in 2003.
I founded APGA because I have always believed that the Igbo Question in the greater Nigerian nation was political and could be answered through engagement with the other ethnic nationalities. It was for us to articulate our dreams, desires, aspirations, then reach out to our brothers and sisters to negotiate avenues to achieving these in line with the dreams of the founding fathers of our nation.
Political parties formation started in Nigeria in 1922. Until the founding of APGA in 2002 no party in Nigeria had been founded by someone of South East extraction. I was naive to believe that now we had a platform for engagement with other ethnic nationalities that we would rally round to grow APGA.
APGA has produced members of the National Assembly, State Assemblies and 5 governors. 4 of the governors have come from Anambra State, including the first female governor in Nigeria. Chief Rochas Okorocha became governor of Imo state on the platform of APGA. Gov. Okorocha promptly decamped from the party when he noticed the parochialism in the administration of APGA.
From Peter Obi to Dame Virgy Etiaba to Willie Obiano and now Prof. Chukwuma Soludo. Yet APGA, instead of growing, has shrunk in influence and reach. It has not grown beyond Anambra state.
Rather than invest in growing the party on whose platform they achieved political prominence, these individuals who came to political limelight through APGA have invested billions of naira to ensure that the party is primarily consigned to Awka, Anambra State.
Would the natural progression for APGA not be an expansion into the other States? Govs Peter Obi, Virgy Etiaba, Willie Obiano and now Chukwuma Soludo did not do anything to grow the party. They did not engage other Igbo States neither did they try any form of alliance with other nationalities. The effect is that APGA has experienced a stunted growth. Any wonder that our teeming youths find IPOB a veritable source for political expression than any political party.
Edozie Njoku’s quest to be national chairman is legitimate and a natural progression. Indeed any member of a party political can aspire to lead the party. I was sorely disappointed when I was reliably informed that one of the reasons for Prof. Chukwuma Soludo’s opposition to Njoku being chairman of our party is that he comes from Imo State. Another reason, I was told, is that Soludo fears that Njoku’s emergence as chairman threatens his position as governor of Anambra state.
Let me state for the records that I offered to broker negotiations between Gov. Soludo and Edozie Njoku as I consider both of them my friends. Edozie Njoku also publicly disassociated himself from anything that would threaten Soludo’s governorship.
It is disheartening that instead of seeking the path of peace Soludo chose to fund a futile attempt to deny Edozie Njoku his legitimate rights as the chairman of APGA. I am told that this wild goose chase has seen billions of naira move from the coffers of Anambra state to deep pockets of some unscrupulous individuals in the Judiciary, Police, INEC and legal practice. One would ordinarily think that the professor of economics knows that in his quest to shore up Victor Oye’s illegitimate regime he is funding the demise of the ambition of every APGA man and woman who seeks to participate in the 2023 elections. Its just a matter of time.
Every Court in Nigeria has ruled that the APGA leadership emerged from the Owerri convention of May 31st, 2019. Victor Oye was not in Owerri as he held his own convention in Awka on the same day. Edozie Njoku was elected National chairman at the Owerri convention. All the courts, including the Supreme Court of Nigeria gave a ruling to that effect.
That the Supreme Court judgement and corrections which affirmed Edozie Njoku as chairman of APGA is the reason why he’s being arraigned in court for forgery is a judicial abomination. That Victor Oye knew and announced this suit on national television before Njoku and his lawyers were informed about it is a travesty of the highest kind. The Inspector General of Police should investigate how a mere witness knew about an arrangement before the accused.
Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili is the chairman of the panel that heard the APGA leadership appeal. She has admitted that her panel replaced Oye’s name with Edozie Njoku. That, normally, should be the end of the matter. That Hajo Sarki Bello, Abubakar Dikko and Festus Akande, who are not Justices of the Supreme Court but support staff prefer Victor Oye as chairman of APGA is immaterial. They cannot by writing letters and issuing statements vitiate the judgment of the Supreme Court. It behoves Chief Justice Olukayode Ariwoola to put these administrative staffers in their place.
Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, for reasons that are now known to every discerning mind who are aware of this issue, acted on letters and press statements rather than the judgment of the Supreme Court. He still refuses to right the wrong he has meted out to Edozie Njoku. He has no moral rights to remain at the helm of INEC. He is a very compromised public official. He should not superintend over the 2023 elections.
I challenge the Oxford University educated professor to tell Nigerians how Victor Oye who did not participate in the Owerri Convention; was not the one removed by the Jigawa High Court, not the one whose removal was deemed non justiceable by the Kano Division of the Appeal Court, whose name was removed by the Supreme Court on May 9th, 2022 from its judgment still remains Chairman of APGA six months later.
CSP Ezekiel Rimasonte’s persecution of Edozie Njoku is repugnant to justice, equity and good conscience. It must stop now.