…As Party is Engulfed in a Gale of Crisis with Expulsion of National Secretary As a gale of crisis envelopes the African Action Congress (AAC), a faction of the party on Monday announced the suspension of its Presidential Candidate in the 2019 General Election, Mr Omoyele Sowore; and eight others, including its Deputy National Chairman
…As Party is Engulfed in a Gale of Crisis with Expulsion of National Secretary
As a gale of crisis envelopes the African Action Congress (AAC), a faction of the party on Monday announced the suspension of its Presidential Candidate in the 2019 General Election, Mr Omoyele Sowore; and eight others, including its Deputy National Chairman (South West), Mr Ogunlana Rotimi Jacob, for a period of six months over alleged anti-party activities.
It also appointed its National Secretary, Dr. Leonard Ezenwa as acting National Chairman, while Mr Abayomi Francis Olufemi has been named Deputy National Chairman.
A member of the AAC National Executive Committee, Mr Mazi Okwy, who read the resolution of the party to journalists in Abuja, premised the party’s decision against Sowore, publisher of Saharareporters; and his executive, on alleged anti-party activities.
Anchoring the suspension on financial impropriety, he said the allegation bordered “particularly on inflow of illegal foreign funds into the party and personally retaining same in contravention of Section 225 (3)(4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), together with eight others.”
The committee also announced that the suspension of Sowore, also the AAC’s national chairman and other members of his executive took effect from March 27 and will last for six months except overturned by a National Convention of the party.
This however is coming against the background of the expulsion of Dr Ezenwa as national secretary of the party for “financial impropriety”.
“It has come to the notice of the office of the Chairman of the African Action Congress that a group of suspended members, induced by financial reasons and anti-progressive politics, gathered in Abuja today, 13th May, 2019, and purportedly held a NEC meeting,” says a statement signed by Sowore..
“These members, led by Leonard Nzenwa, former national secretary, who was suspended for financial impropriety and anti-party activities, have demonstrated by their actions that they have never been, and have never shared, the core beliefs that those of us in the African Action Congress hold.”
“Leonard Nzenwa is hereby expelled from the party, and the misguided individuals who participated in the Abuja meeting are suspended from the party until investigations reveal the extent of their involvement,” he said.
Head of Media and Public Relations, Sowore Campaign Organisation, Mr Rachel Onamusi-Kpiasi, told The Punch that, “Leonard (Ezenwa) has been suspended from the party for anti-party activities for months and is in no position to suspend the national chairman;”
Ezenwa was earlier queried for “Anti-Party Activities and Unethical Conduct”. In a query letter sent to him on January 17, 2019, the party leadership which noted that it “has received grievous complaints about your conduct,” said,” We are setting up a disciplinary committee to address these allegations. You will have the opportunity to robustly provide a defence of your actions and a refutation of the allegations, in writing.”
“Given the very serious nature of these allegations and need for a timely resolution, we require a written response to these allegations no later than Saturday 11th January, 2019. The complaints that have been levelled against you are as follows: 1. Extended Closure of The Party Secretariat. The African Action Congress was registered as a political party by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on August 18th 2018, and the Party Secretariat, located at House 1, 1Q Road, Lugbe Federal Housing Estate, Abuja was declared open on the same day,” says the letter of query signed by Deputy National Chairman (Admin), Dr Malcolm Fabiyi
“However, for the last three months, the Party Secretariat has been kept under lock and key. You have neither reported for duty at the Secretariat, nor appointed clerical or support staff that would take on the responsibility for maintaining secretarial services, in contravention of your duties, as specified in Article 62 (d) of the constitution of party constitution, which states that your duties will include the supervision and control of the day to day activities of the National Secretariat.”
“As a result of this extended closure of the secretariat, several invitations to key events, critical to the effective preparation for the 2019 elections were missed. Your actions have also robbed our members of a physical space where they could gather and / or meet with party officials.”
“While we understand that your physical presence is not necessarily required at the Secretariat, you have grossly derelicted duty by not hiring or requesting for staff to man the secretariat in your absence. We request a full accounting from you, of the reasons why you have maintained the secretariat under lock and key; or refused to staff it up with hands that would be able to perform basic clerical duties in your absence.”
Ezenwa was also accused of “Failure to Notify the Party of Electorally-relevant Media Appearances and Publicity Offerings”: The party said it “has received numerous complaints, including from media organizations and other bodies providing election-related publicity services, that communications sent to you with critical information about offers for, and invitations to, activities related to the 2019 elections were received by you and not acted upon or brought to the notice of the party.”
“For instance, you were sent an offer for FREE editorial appearance for all of our Party’s candidates by the Cool FM, Wazobia FM and Nigeria Info FM Media group on Friday November 16th, 2018. These stations have a nationwide presence and their offer for free appearances for our candidates constituted a major opportunity to showcase our party and provide our candidates with a platform for sharing our unique people oriented programs with the Nigerian people, in a cost-effective manner.”
“You did not share this information with our Chairman and Presidential Candidate, and failed to pass the details on to the Publicity and Media Directorates of either the Party or the Sowore 2019 Campaign. Your actions have robbed over 150 candidates running on the platform of our party, of the opportunity for free appearances on the most popular radio stations in the country. This appears to have been a deliberate act of sabotage against all of our candidates, and constitutes anti-party activities, as established in Article 80 (2) b of the party constitution.”
Ezenwa’s offence, according to the AAC, also include: “Payment of party funds directly into your private account & Failure to account for all Fees for Nomination forms paid to you:” “One of the most damning ethical allegations made against you pertains to your request that monies paid by some aspirants for the purchase of party nomination forms be paid directly into your private account. It is unclear why you would provide your personal account to candidates for the purchase of nomination forms, since you remain one of only two signatories to the original party account.”
“As an example, you received direct payments into your private account of fees from the Adamawa Gubernatorial candidate of the party. We note that in the case of the Adamawa gubernatorial candidate, the amount you eventually remitted to the Party account was far less than the approved nomination fees for Gubernatorial aspirants, which, without the approval of the National Working Committee of the party, amounts to short changing the party wilfully. This is despite the fact that the party account designated for such purposes, with name “African Action Congress”, and number, “0425888778” in the Guaranty Trust Bank, had been in existence since September 2018.”
“Your request for, and acceptance of, direct payment of party resources and fees into personal accounts violates our core principles for accountability and probity. You have also pointedly refused to provide an accounting of all monies received by you directly from our party’s candidates who made their nomination form submissions through you. All of these constitute dishonest dealings and defrauding of the party, which are grounds for disciplinary action as specified in Article 80 (2) d of the party constitution.”
“Refusal to update signatories to the party account: When the party account was opened by you in September 2018, you assigned yourself as the primary account holder with the Chairman, Omoyele Sowore, as the cosignatory. The Treasurer of the Party has notified you since September 2018 that the constitutionally designated signatories to the party account viz: African Action Congress, Guraranty Trust Bank, 0425888778, based on Article 89 (3) of the party constitution are the National Chairman, the National Treasurer and the Deputy National Chairman (Admin).”
“Since being notified of this constitutionally mandated provision in September, you have refused to set the machinery in motion for the inclusion of the constitutionally mandated officers of the party onto the party account. Given that our party constitution places account signatory authority on the Chairman, Deputy chairman Admin and the Party Treasurer, your refusal to comply with this request and facilitate an orderly transition of the management of the party accounts to the constitutionally-mandated officers constitutes a breach of the provisions of our constitution, and constitutes grounds for disciplinary measures as stipulated in Articles 80 (2) a and c.”
“Running Anti-Movement and Anti-Party Activities. The party leadership has received disturbing, corroborated reports that you are the mastermind of an effort to undermine the party and discredit its Presidential Candidate. We are in possession of a list of 30 scurrilous and unfounded allegations that you authored, which you and your co-conspirators intend to use to malign the character and impugn the integrity of our Chairman and Presidential Candidate, Omoyele Sowore.”
“All of your actions in recruiting co-conspirators, and masterminding what you intend to be a campaign of calumny and character assassination, intended to embarrass and derail the AAC Presidential Candidate’s historic run for the leadership of our nation, based on 50 manufactured accusations (of which we are in possession of your list of thirty), have been extensively documented by the leadership of the party. Everything done in the dark, will ultimately be exposed to the light.”
“Your error was in assuming that the people you attempted to conscript into your conspiracy were also driven by inordinate ambitions and greed. You were wrong. These persons, conscious of the historic role of the TakeItBack movement, keenly aware of the role of the AAC in the coming transformation of Nigeria, and cognisant of the unique leadership that Sowore has provided, brought details of the plot to the leadership.”
“We have also received notice of your alliances with the establishment parties, and your commitment to them to derail Sowore’s candidacy and bring our great party, the AAC, into an alliance with the same parties that have raped and plundered our nation. Your actions violate the spirit and letter of our constitution. They constitute a gross betrayal of a sacred trust. For someone who is a leader both in the Party and the movement, your treacherous actions are as shocking as they are abhorrent. These anti-Party activities constitute anti-party activities and are grounds for disciplinary action as stipulated in Article 80 (2) d of the party constitution.
“Non-participation in Movement and Party activities. The TakeItBack Movement (TIB) and the African Action Congress (AAC), are volunteer based organizations. You were named as the Nigeria coordinator for the TIB movement at its inception and nominated to the position of Secretary of the Party at its formation even though you had no input in the conception, formation and funding of the Party.”
“We note that since October 2018, you have not been active in leadership and have failed to perform any of your duties in the movement or the party. You have been absent from every leadership meeting held over the last 12 weeks. The gross dereliction of duty that you have demonstrated by your extended absence from meetings is grounds for disciplinary action as stipulated in Article 80 (2) d of the party constitution.”
“Setting up parallel structures in several states: You set up parallel party structures in several states in direct contradiction of the party protem leadership structure, which was approved by the Chairman and ratified by the leadership of the party. Your actions caused extensive disharmony within the party which has led to extensive delays in the implementation of our mobilization strategies in the affected states.”
“Although you have attended these forums ostensibly on behalf of the AAC, you have never provided any feedback on the outcomes of such meetings. Such feedback includes time- and security-sensitive information provided at a recent event organized by INEC on 7th January 2018.”
“This is ostensibly the case with previous meetings. Not only did you fail in your duties to record and report the minutes of meetings taken on behalf of the party, you also failed to provide notification to, or obtain the approval needed to represent the Party in the role usually reserved for the Chairman, in these meetings.”
“Your actions violate the responsibilities of your office as stipulated in Article 62 of the constitution. The assumption of roles without approval or authorisation from the Chairman and your breach of the constitutional provisions for your office (Article 62), are grounds for disciplinary action as stipulated in Article 80 (2) of the party constitution.”
The AAC set up a disciplinary committee made up of the Legal Adviser of the Party, Deputy National Chairman (Admin), Secretary of the Board of Trustees and the Deputy Women Leader to look into these issues while Ezenwa was asked to send his detailed responses to these allegations to the committee not later than 12 noon on Friday 11th, 2019.