•I’m still in charge –Umeh, ousted chairman
…Obi had no hand in his sack –Anambra govt
From Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
The leadership crisis in the All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA) got messier yesterday, as the ousted National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh and factional leader of the party, Alhaji Sadeeq Masala, insisted that they were still in charge. The duo dismissed Saturday’s appointment of Chief Maxi Okwu as the interim National Chairman and Alhaji Sanni Shinkafi as National Secretary by the National Caucus.
They said the caucus was not inaugurated and therefore, cannot set up an interim leadership of the party. They spoke separately to newsmen in Abuja. Umeh and the entire National Working Committee (NWC) which Masala was also part of, were sacked by the Enugu High Court recently. The National Caucus last Saturday met in Abuja and endorsed Okwu and Shinkafi leadership.
It charged the new leadership to organise congresses and national convention of the party. Umeh warned Okwu and other officials appointed by the caucus not to parade themselves as officials of the party because they were not legally constituted. He vowed to challenge the new development in court even as he chastised Okwu, a lawyer. He said the people who selected Okwu as new interim Chairman were only hosted by the Anambra State Governor, Mr Peter Obi .
According to him, what held was not the National Caucus of the party. He stressed that the caucus is composed of the National Chairman, Secretary, members of the party and top government officials. Umeh clarified that by the constitution of the party, Gov Obi is not a member of the caucus. He accused Obi of engaging in lawless acts in a desperate bid to remove him from office. On claims by Masalla that he is the chairman of the party, Umeh described him as a joker who deserved to be pitied. Umeh noted that Masalla had been used and dumped by Gov Obi. But Insisting that he is the boss, Masalla said though the court judgment sacked NWC of the party, he remained the chairman of APGA because the National Executive Committee (NEC) had earlier inaugurated him as the chairman. He said that he had no problem with the judgment but vowed to use all legal means to ensure that the appointment of Okwu as the interim chairman does not stand. He recalled that Okwu was expelled by the party some years ago and therefore, had no right to be appointed the chairman. On the merger of APGA with other opposition parties, both Umeh and Masalla said that they had nothing to do with the All Progressives Congress(APC). Reacting yesterday, the Anambra State Government said Obi had no hand in Umeh’s sack by the court. Government’s statement which was in response to the persistent accusations against Governor Obi including that of Umeh that he was responsible for the removal of the party boss also denied that the governor has joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). At a press briefing held at the Government House, Awka, Obi’s Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Mike Udah, said that both allegations were just mere figment of the people’s imagination. APGA’s crisis reached a near peak on Sunday when some members announced Chief Okwu as the interim national chairman. Since after the judgment of the Enugu State Chief Judge, Justice Innocent Umuezulike, sacking Umeh as the APGA national chairman, the media had been awash with comments by people that the judgment was influenced by Governor Obi.