Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis & El-Ameen Ibrahim
The Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso faction of the New Nigeria People’s Party has held a parallel meeting of the National Executive Committee in Abuja to reverse his suspension.
The faction announced the expulsion of the new acting National Chairman of the party, Major Agbo and some notable members involved in Kwankwaso’s sanction.
The move is coming hours after Kwankwaso was suspended by the party’s Board of Trustees for alleged anti-party activities.
The decision to sanction Kwankwaso and appoint new national officers headed by Major and acting National Secretary, Ogini Olaposi, and 18 others was taken at a NEC meeting in Lagos earlier on Tuesday
Prior to the NEC session, Agbo and founder of the party, Dr Boniface Aniebonam had both been suspended from the party on August 24.
But Aniebonam, Agbo and many loyalists of the party kicked against the decision, insisting that if any member deserves to be punished, it ought to be the presidential candidate of the party over his alleged suspicious activities in recent times.
Addressing newsmen in Lagos on Tuesday, Secretary of the BoT, Babayo Abdulahi, had accused Kwankwaso of hobnobbing with President Bola Tinubu, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his counterpart in the Labour Party, Peter Obi, without seeking consent of the board.
Abdullahi reiterated that Kwankwaso’s clandestine and nocturnal meetings were the reason he was stripped of the NNPP national leader status by the board.
According to him, Aniebonam had resigned as the BoT chairman, and a new BoT Chairman, Dr Chief Tope Aluko was elected with Abdulahi as the new BoT Secretary, while High Chief Tony Obioha was elected as BoT spokesperson.
He also insisted that the pre-election Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Kwankwasiyya Movement, The National Movement, and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders had been rendered void by the actions of the NWC.
“The purported suspension of the founder is a flagrant gross violation of the NNPP constitution such that it is tantamount to recklessness and irresponsibility on the part of the incompetent NWC. The BoT decided that material evidence in the public sector affirmed that Kwankwaso was involved in anti-party activities in various meetings, and had political discussions with the President, Atiku, and Obi without authorisation from the board.
“This has earned him six months suspension pending the outcome of an investigation by the Disciplinary Committee,” he stated.
Reacting, the National Auditor of the party, Ladipo Johnson, however, described Kwankwaso’s suspension as an illegitimate move.
Johnson, who claimed he was the chairman of the disciplinary committee that expelled Agbo and his loyalists at the NEC meeting in Abuja, affirmed that there was no division in the party as being speculated.
He said, “It is a fake news. Do you hold NEC meetings in the Apapa area of Lagos? Of course, it is not the proper thing to do. We held NEC in Abuja today. The Agbo you talked about has been expelled along with some other people. He was the one doing all this nonsense and that’s because you know him as national publicity secretary. Who made him acting chairman? Ask yourself, is that how one becomes a chairman?
“I don’t like your use of the word ‘faction.’ Is that how one creates a faction? If you come to NNPP headquarters, you will see us there. You will also see that Agbo’s office has been locked for over a week. And he didn’t even go to any court to say what we did was wrong. They are the judges themselves and they are the ones you should be calling a faction.
That’s because they were suspended and eventually expelled from the party. Let me send you a statement on the NEC we just held.”
The statement, made available to The PUNCH on Tuesday evening, confirmed a NEC meeting truly took place in Abija where a decision on the purported expulsion of Agbo, a new party logo, and constitutional amendment were taken.
It partly read, “At the National Executive Committee meeting of the NNPP held in Abuja today August 29, Dr Boniface Aniebonam, Agbo Major and several others were expelled from the party. The NEC also moved several other motions relating to the Logo of the party, the Amendment of the constitution, ratification of the State caretaker committees, and the suspension of two Articles in the constitution of the NNPP 2022.
“At the meeting were the Executive Governor of Kano State, the National Chairman, Distinguished Senator Kawu Ismaila, the Speaker of the Kano State House of Assembly, Engr Buba Galadima, and many others. NEC noted that there were suspended (now expelled) persons who purportedly held a Board of Trustees meeting in Apapa, Lagos this morning. Naturally, their meeting was null and void and to no effect.”
In a related development, an ally of Kwankwaso and North-Central Chairman of the NNPP, Philip Ohinu also frowned at the reported suspension of the party’s presidential candidate.
Ohinu also maintained that the camp of Kwankwaso has a grip on the party against the notion they are just a faction.
“The national leader of the party Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso remains the national leader of the party. I don’t want to believe that the NNPP is factionalised.
“We just had our NEC meeting today, I attended the meeting and all the 36 state’s chairmen and the FCT were in attendance including our governor, the Reps, the Senate, and the Zonal chairmen. So, I don’t want to believe there is a faction in the party. It is just that they were an unrecognised group of people that came together and acted under the guise that they were members of NNPP. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think we have a factional NNPP,” he said.
In a phone chat with our correspondent, an indifferent Agbo insisted that the suspension of Kwankwaso and the NWC stands.
When asked if they plan to run the new faction of NNPP and if the party is in crisis, he hesitated before noting that the party is not in any crisis.
“You can describe it the way you want. But that may not be the proper way to describe what is going on. Those who own the party have taken back the party and that was our position in the meeting at Lagos,” he said.