By Linus Amaraizu
Two weeks after the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly elections, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in both Owerri Municipal and Ikenegbu Ward In Imo State are beginning to brew unwarranted crisis following what they termed, “anti-party” activity against suspected “enemies”.
The man at the center of the storm is a no nonsense legal czar and community leader, High Chief Barr Willie Amadi who holds the traditional title of “Ukwa Achi Aka & Omeudo” of Owerri.
The writer is not interested in his “suspension or expulsion” from the party, but what is striking in the whole scenario is the hasty manner in which the leadership of APC in both Ikenegbu Ward and Owerri Municipal and the State carried the decision without adhering to the provisions of their party’s constitution.
Like a constitutional Lawyer asked when the issue was being discussed at Icheku Gardens Owerri owned by the Chairman of the campaign council whether the hasty “suspension or expulsion” followed due process.
He based his augment on the fact that APC constitution stipulates procedure for either suspending or expelling a member from the party. His assumption showed that those who purportedly “suspended or expelled” him from APC may have been envious or afraid of Willie Amadi’s or may have been nursing animosity and acrimony for a long time.
Regrettably, Willie Amadi’s Achilles Heels forgot to interpret the true meaning of his tittle “Ukwa Achi Aka”, one of his numerous traditional titles.
For the purposes of educating those who purportedly “suspended or expelled” him from the party without any iota of knowledge of their party’s constitutional provisions, the constitution of the APC where provisions for “suspension or expulsion” of an erring member are clearly spelt out ran at variance with the actions of those who misguidedly and illegally carried out the onslaught against Willie Amadi based their personal reasons.
According to section 21, (3) of APC, which created room for Disciplinary Procedure for the purposes of suspension or expulsion from party every
member of APC is entitled to the benefits of disciplinary proceedings namely, the procedure for the hearing and determination of complaints or allegations are as follows:
1. A complaint by any member of the Party against a Public Office holder, elected or appointed, or another member or against a Party organ or officer of the Party shall be submitted to the Executive Committee of that Party at all levels concerned which shall not later than seven (7) days of the receipt of the complaint, appoint a fact–finding or Disciplinary Committee to examine the matter.
2. The Executive Committee concerned shall not debate or discuss the complaint or allegation before sending it to the or fact-finding Committee which shall hear, determine and cause its decision to be transmitted to the relevant Executive Committees of the Party concerned.
3. The Executive Committee concerned, upon receipt of the fact finding report, shall transfer the case to this Disciplinary Committee within fourteen (14) days to hear and determine the allegation.
4. The Executive Committee of the Party at the level where a complaint or allegation is made shall within twenty-one (21) days, upon receipt of the report of the Disciplinary Committee, either reject or approve.
5. Where either the complainant or the Party against whom a complaint is made, makes out a prima facie case of bias, intimidation or undue influence or likelihood of same by the Executive Committee seized with original jurisdiction to hear and determine such a matter, or a member thereof; or where the complaint is against a Party organ at that level, making it impracticable to appoint a fact-finding committee:
a) Such complaint shall be transferred to the next higher organ seized with appellate jurisdiction to hear and determine such matters.
From the provisions above, the questions expected to be answered by those who claimed to have “suspended or expelled” Willie Amadi are:
When was a disciplinary committee set up and when did it conclude its investigation on the allegations of anti-party leveled against Willie Amadi ?
Is it proper for only two APC leaders to function as Chairmen of APC in different levels and at the same time Chairman and Secretary of a Disciplinary committee to investigate a member ?
In section 21 (3) i, of APC constitution, did the leadership of the party adhere to the clause before setting up a Disciplinary Committee after receipt of complaint of anti-party against Willie Amadi came to them within seven (7) days constitutional provision ?
In line with the constitutional provision, why did the Executive Committee concerned first debated and discussed the complaint or allegation against Willie Amadi before sending it to the or fact-finding Committee to hear, and determine, in variance with section 21 (3) ii of APC constitution ?
Did the committee send a written invitation with attached petition and allegations before expelling him ?
Having received the complaint of anti-party against Willie Amadi by the Executive Committee, why did they allow the matter to linger in their hands beyond 14 days constitutional provision before transferring it to the Disciplinary Committee to hear and determine the allegation contrary to section 21 (3) iii ?
Do they have any special interest in the matter ?
If APC constitution in subsection (3) iv, provides that the Executive Committee of the Party at the level where a complaint or allegation is made shall within twenty-one (21) days, upon receipt of the report of the Disciplinary Committee, either reject or approve is necessary, why did the approval of the “suspension or expulsion” come after 21 days in variance with the party’s constitution or curiously 12hrs after Barr. Amadi queried the State Chairman of APC and the Local Government Campaign Council Chairman Dr, McDonald Ebere and Hon. Ernest Ibejiako respectively ?
These unwarranted neglect to the provisions of the party’s constitution brings us to the constitutional procedures for suspending or expelling a member from the party:
Section 21.5 stipulates procedure for the Punishment of Erring Members:
i. The Party shall have power to impose the following sanctions on members in accordance with the nature and gravity of the offence:
d) debarment from holding Party office,
e) removal from Party office,
f) suspension from the Party,
g) expulsion from the Party,
h) debarment from contesting office on the Party’s platform,and
i) in appropriate circumstances, the Party shall cause the prosecution of the member or erstwhile member of the Party concerned.
ii. Where it is proposed to expel a member of the Executive Committee, political office holder, or a member of a legislative house from membership of the Party, such a proposal shall be submitted to
the National Executive Committee, which decision shall be final.
iii. A decision to expel a member of the Party taken or confirmed by the National Executive Committee shall be final.
iv. The National Executive Committee shall on receipt of the report of the fact-finding committee make a decision on the matter within fourteen (14) days.
v. Any member who files an action in court of law against the Party or any of its officers on any matter or matters relating to the discharge of the duties of the Party without first exhausting the avenues for redress provided for in this Constitution shall automatically stand expelled from the Party on filing such action and no appeal against expulsion as stipulated in this Clause shall be entertained until the withdrawal of the action from Court by the member.
The questions are, did those claiming to have suspended or expelled Willie Amadi ever considered or adhered to the provisions of the party’s constitution?
No one should ignorantly or mischievously flaw the laws while trying to correct or discipline a person. Ignorant of the law is never an excuse. In this case the party seems to have decided to approbate and reprobate at the same time regretfully shamelessly moth withstanding the provisions of legal advisers at the ward, local government and state Executive levels in the State.
The operative law is Nemo Judex Non Causa, meaning that you cannot be a Judge in your own case. This is the position of the law and accordingly the party under the Chairman failed woefully in their ego ride and should therefore apologise to their leader and stakeholder Barr. Willie Amadi forthwith.