Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State

Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has vowed to suspend members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara who have taken the party to court over its membership registration exercise and the removal of the party chairperson in the state.

At a meeting with party leaders loyal to him on Saturday, Mr AbdulRazaq said the party would take a decisive action against the ‘dissidents’ in the party.

The governor said the members had hatched their plots in Abuja to frustrate the membership registration exercise of the party in the state through “needless litigations.”

“It has come to our notice that some people were hatching a series of plots from Abuja to stop APC membership registration.

“They went to court to challenge the process when it has already begun. This was designed to frustrate the exercise but we are unperturbed.

“However, we need to sound a note of warning that those fanning ember of disaffection in our party risk suspension. The APC leadership will take decisive action on them on Monday so that our people can have rest of mind.

“From our own end, we can assure you again that there is no cause for alarm. Our members and those interested in the party should go to their polling unit from Tuesday and register,” Mr AbdulRazaq said.

Newsmen has obtained the court documents filed by the aggrieved party members.

Insiders in the governor’s office also informed this newspaper that Mr AbdulRazaq believes the suit was sponsored by his opponents in the party.

“He believes that those people were sponsored by some bigwigs in the party like Lai (Mohammed), Gbemi Saraki, Gobir and others. And the suspension threat is targeted at them.

“He will most likely orchestrate the suspension of those applicants any time from Monday. Then, people he suspected to be their sponsors,” another source stated.”

However, the spokesperson of the governor, Rafiu Ajakaiye, denied that the governor plans to suspend anyone when newsmen reached out to him.

But he said the party has the right to enforce its rules on members.

“The governor did not say he is suspending anyone. He has no powers to suspend party officials. What he said is that some party members have run foul of the laws of the party such as taking the party to court in manners contravening party rules.

“He said the party, for the sake of sanity and discipline, will have the right to invoke relevant laws to ensure that its rules are complied with by its members,” he said to this newspaper.

When contacted, the spokesperson of the party, Tajudeen Aro, told newsmen that the party is not worried about the suit, stating that the Federal High Court lacks jurisdiction to hear such matters.

On the proposed suspension, he said the party had not made the decision yet.

“The decision has not been taken as I’m talking to you,” he said.

The press officer to Mr Mohammed, Joe Mutah, declined comments when this newspaper sought the reaction of his principal on Tuesday.

He said he was on an assignment in Kaduna State and would not be able to respond to the enquiries sent.

Backstory

The development stemmed from the lingering crisis in the party centred on a rift between Mr AbdulRazaq and a group of party leaders led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

It recently escalated when Bashir Bolarinwa, who is loyal to Mr Mohammed, was removed as the party chairperson and replaced with Abdullahi Samari.

Although the national body and executives of the North-central zone of the party have intervened in the matter, they are yet to reconcile the warring factions.

Observers say the lingering crisis is a threat to the membership registration and revalidation exercise which began in the state on Tuesday.

Earlier, a meeting scheduled for last Wednesday ahead of the exercise was violently disrupted after supporters of Governor AbdulRazaq clashed with those behind Mr Bolarinwa.


Suit

According to the originating summons filed on January 29, 11 chieftains of the party approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking an order to stop Mr Samari from parading himself as the party’s caretaker chair in Kwara.

A copy of the court process was exclusively obtained by this newspaper.

The process was filed by the party’s welfare officer, Joseph Tsado; Chairman of Isin Local Government area, Bamidele Ogunbayo; Vice Chairman of Ilorin East Local Government, Abdullateef Kolawole, caretaker Vice chairman of Asa Local Government, Imam Abdulkadir, and seven others.

The respondents are the APC, National Secretary of its Convention Planning Committee, John Akpanudoedele; and Mr Samari.

The aggrieved members also want the court to restrain the APC from commencing or continuing the Membership Registration, Revalidation and Update Exercise.

“AN ORDER of Interlocutory Injunction restraining the 1st defendant acting through the Chairman Caretaker/Extraordinary convention planning committee (CECPC) or any other members of the Committee from continue to deal with or accord any further recognition to the 3rd defendant as the purported caretaker Chairman of the 1s Defendant Kwara State Chapter pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

“AN ORDER OF INTERLOCUTORY INJUNCTION restraining the 3rd defendant from parading himself or holding himself out as the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the 1st defendant in Kwara State or perform any function or duties/responsibilities of the caretaker Chairman of the 1st defendant Kwara State Chapter pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit,” the chieftains prayed the court.

“AN ORDER OF INTERLOCUTORY INJUNCTION restraining the defendants from commencing and/ or continue the 1st Defendant’s Membership Registration, Revalidation and Update Exercise scheduled to hold between the 2nd February, 2021 to March 2021 in Kwara State pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”

Also, in a follow-up letter addressed to the Governor of Yobe, Mai Mala Buni, who is also the Chair, APC Caretaker and Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee, the plaintiffs urged the party to suspend the registration exercise.

The letter dated February 1 was served through their legal representative, R.O Balogun.

“Mr Chairman, the implication of being served with the originating process and the motion on Notice for Injunction is that your party must respect and honour the revered and sacred Institution called Judiciary by putting in abeyance all activities that are connected with the issues raised in the Originating Summons and the prayers contained in the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction.

“In other words, the Membership Registration, Revalidation and Update Exercise scheduled to hold between the 2nd February, 2021 to March 2021 in Kwara State ought to be suspended, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

“Judicial authorities have crystalised the need to maintain status quo by the parties, when a matter has been filed before the Court in the interest of all the parties and adherence to the Rule of Law. We wish to restate the settled position of the law that, the Court can invoke its coercive powers under its inherent jurisdiction to ex debito justitiae undo or set aside that which was done by the recalcitrant party during the pendency of the suit and most especially when the motion on Notice for Injunction has been served,” Mr Balogun wrote.

Reacting to the moves to suspend his clients over the suit, Mr Balogun said the governor’s threat should not be taken seriously.

“The governor with respect to His Excellency should not be taken seriously if truly he says that,” the text message he sent to newsmen read.

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