- Published on Sunday, 29 July 2012 00:52
- Written by Daily Independent
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared as unconstitutional and ultra vires the purported suspension of the national chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Victor Umeh, and national secretary, Sani Shinkafi, by six suspended members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of theparty led by
The Commission also declared the purported NEC meeting held by the Massala group in Abuja on July 16, 2012, and all decisions taken there as ultra vires, having been taken in contravention of the constitution of APGA and as such the decisions have no binding force.
INEC further declared that it could not stop the national chairman of APGA from convening a proper meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
A letter addressed to Umeh dated July 26, 2012 with reference number INEC/LEG/APGA/222/11/313 and signed by the secretary to the Commission, Abdulahi Kaugama, however said the Commission cannot investigate the allegation of forgery of the signatures of 11 members of the NWC by the Massala-led group and advised that the matter be reported to the Police.
The said letter, which was copied to the INEC chairman, Massala and Ifedi Okwenna, read: “The Commission received series of letters from the All Progressives Grand Alliance inviting it to monitor the meeting of the National Executive Committee of July 16, 2012, and your letter alleging forgery of signatures of 11 members of the National Executive Committee.
“The Commission has considered all the correspondences vis-à-vis the constitution of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and observes as follows:
“That the National Working Committee of APGA purportedly met on June 19, 2012 and unanimously resolved to suspend indefinitely Chief Victor Umeh and Alhaji Sani Shinkafi as national chairman and secretary respectively, and in their places appointed Alhaji Sadeeq Massala and Dr. Ifedi Okwenna as acting national chairman and secretary of the party.
“The National Working Committee by a letter dated June 22, 2012, invited the Commission to monitor the meeting of the National Executive Committee convened by two-thirds members of the National Working Committee of the party. This was reinforced by another letter dated July 6, 2012.
“The Commission received a letter signed by Chief Victor Umeh, national chairman, inviting it to monitor the meeting of the National Executive Committee of APGA to hold on July 24, 2012. The Commission was notified of a change in date by Chief Victor Umeh on July 11, 2012, shifting the date of the meeting to August 1, 2012.
“The meeting was convened by the Massala-led NWC on July 16 at Reiz Continental Hotel, Abuja. The meeting against the party’s constitution unanimously approved the indefinite suspension of Chief Victor Umeh and Alhaji Sani Shinkafi as national chairman and secretary respectively.
“Eleven members of the APGA NWC/NEC who were alleged to have signed the request of the national chairman to convene a meeting of the NEC of APGA alleged that their signatures were forged.”
According to Kaugama, the Commission cannot stop the national chairman of APGA from convening a proper meeting of the party’s NEC.
However, the six suspended members of APGA NWC led by Massala, who were accused of forging the signatures of 11 members of the NWC, have fled Abuja to evade arrest by the police.
The leadership of APGA had notified INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, and the Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of the forgery allegation.
In a letter to the INEC chairman, signed by the 11 members of the NWC and made available to newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday by Umeh, the 11 members whose signatures were reportedly forged, stated that they had been shown the certified true copies sent to the Commission by the Massala group and that they had never participated in any meeting with the Massala group.
The 11 members of the NWC, who were present at the press briefing and had also deposed to affidavits on oath disowning the purported signatures on the letter by Massala, stated: “We were shocked that signatures of 11 of us were forged. While we dissociate ourselves from the activities of these dissidents, including the representations they made to INEC on behalf of APGA, we hereby categorically state that we have never participated in any meeting or signed any document made by Sadiq Massala and his cohorts.”
The 11 members of APGA NWC are Abubakar Adamu, National Vice Chairman (North East); Ogometu Ukpenetu, Deputy National Auditor; Lawal Ahiru Barmo, Deputy National Treasurer; Dr. Gbenga Afeni, National Organising Secretary; and Bernard Akoma, National Publicity Secretary.
Others are Jolly Ngor, National Vice Chairman (South South); Ibrahim Carefore, Deputy National Youth Leader; E.A. Sonubi, Deputy National Welfare Secretary; Chris Ndigwe, Deputy National Financial Secretary; Sagir Anwal Maidoya, National Vice Chairman (North West); and Alfred Nwosu, Deputy National Publicity Secretary.
They had also, in a letter to the Commissioner of Police FCT, reported the case of forgery of their signatures and called on him to investigate it.
Umeh had also denied knowledge of any crisis in the party, just as he declared that he was not bothered by the activities of Massala and his group.
Umeh pointed out that “INEC is studying the situation and would soon come out with a report. It is disappointing that even lawyers were involved in this forgery, all because they are being sponsored to destroy the party. APGA is suffering from bad media; our party should not be misrepresented in the media. Our NEC meeting will be held on August 1 in Abuja.”
Investigations by Sunday Independent reveal that the Massala group has left Abuja, as efforts by the police to get them has failed.
However our source, who does not want his name in print, said: “We are on the look out for them; any time they resurface, we will arrest them, as they have failed to voluntarily surrender themselves to the police. Forgery is a very serious offence and we are taking the allegations seriously.”