The Senator representing Rivers South-East senatorial district in the National Assembly, Magnus Abe, has said that the foundation upon which Tonye Cole’s candidacy stands, is a faulty one.
Abe also explained that Tonye Cole was a total stranger to the party when he was imposed on the party faithful, stressing that there was no decency or respect for the people the way it was done.
The Senator stated that the inability to allow due process and internal democracy in the affairs of the party led to members going to court.
Abe, who was a quest on satellite tv network, Arise TV’s The Morning Show, said the issues in contention are simple and not as complicated as it would sound for those who are aware of what the facts are.
He also denied insinuations that the minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi came to his house and pleaded with him to accept the senatorial position, adding that what the minister did was to order him not to join the gubernatorial race of the party.
He said: “The minister did come to my house, but what he did was to order me not to even think about it, saying that if I try it, this and that will be the consequence. So it is not true that the minister came to my house to plead with me.
“The day he came to my house, we were together all day. But he said he came to my house because he wanted to warn me and to let my wife be aware that I should not try to run for governor. I thought that was not right or necessary.”
Abe said that there is still hope for the party in the state, adding that “If we overcome this struggle internally, I believe the party will be stronger for it. At the core of the challenges in the APC Rivers state is that people actually want alternative they know will work. So, we must be able to convince them that the alternative we are offering is one that will bring something different from what they have had in the past.
“I believe that at the end of the day, the party will emerge stronger. The legal and moral foundation on which the Cole candidacy is based is faulty. And if leaders of the party like us keep quiet, and allow the party to proceed in a manner that at the end of the day will leave the party totally shortchanged in every aspect, then we are not working for the party.
“So, people must be able to speak up and must be able to stand for what will help the APC in Rivers State. People have suffered so much in the state for us to leave them with no option.”
According to him: “We need to look at the origin of the crisis that you are talking about. What happened was that when we held the party’s congresses across the country, in Rivers State, the party gave the same opportunity for those who were interested in holding positions.
“They were to pay money to the bank and then go to the party’s secretariat to collect forms with the tellers they got from the banks and participate in the congresses.
“The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, decided that those he considered not loyal to him were no longer part of the party and would not be allowed to participate in the congresses. There is no provision for that in the constitution of the APC.
“Almost 16,000 members of the party went to the bank, bought their tellers and they were denied forms. They were not allowed to participate in that congress.
“So they went to court with their tellers to say this is what is happening to us and the court made an order to the party to say “hold on, let’s look into this complaint of exclusion that had been brought by these gentlemen”.
“However, the state chapter of the party loyal to the Minister went on National Television to announce that they would not obey the court order. That was the beginning of the crisis.
“They went ahead and held that first congress and others. When the court saw that, the court went ahead to set aside those congresses. That issue was still lingering in the court when we were to go into the primaries.
Abe said that the National Executive Council of the party ordered for direct primaries given the legal imbroglio that the party was in but the minister had it changed at the last minute.
He said: “At the National Executive Committee meeting of the party, the National Chairman himself being aware of these existing legal challenges announced in NEC that Rivers State would be one of the states where the party would have to hold Direct Primaries because of the lingering legal issues arising from the exclusion of people from the congresses that were held.
“Despite that announcement, the same exco that had been voided by the court went ahead to submit a request to the party for indirect primaries on the instructions of the Minister.
“The legal, valid exco of the party held its own State Executive meeting and submitted the proper and only legal submission that could come out of Rivers State which was the request for Direct Primaries.
“For some reasons, despite the fact that the party had earlier held the position that Rivers State would have to be direct, at the last minute, the NWC came up with a position that it would be indirect because that was what the Minister wanted.
“Those of us who are lawyers know that the first thing you learn in law school is a case we used to call UAC vs MacFoy which says you can put something on nothing and expect it to stand.
“So we were quite worried that if we go ahead with that given the legal position that this exco and that request and the entire process is standing on nothing, we would end up with a situation where Rivers State will be legally knocked out of the general election because of that situation.
“So the state executive of the party decided to go ahead and conduct direct primaries so that the party will have a legal basis to participate in the general election.
“And true to that prediction, that is of course what happened. As soon as they went ahead with the indirect primaries with delegates drawn from the voided congresses, the High Court with which they were contending with, set aside the entire exercise that produced Mr Cole.
“The Court of Appeal has at this moment dismissed the appeal against the judgement of the High Court.
“So the situation is that the only legal primaries that were conducted in Rivers State within the ambit of the law were the direct primaries that were conducted by the State executive of the party.
“So that is the position. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. It’s really quite simple and straightforward”