By Tony Edike
ENUGU—FOR describing the late Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu as an extremist, the National Chairman of the Peter Obi faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Maxi Okwu, Wednesday, came under criticism with a call on him to immediately tender an apology to Igbos for trying to rub mud on the image and character of the former Biafran leader.
The party said should Okwu fail to tender apology to Ndigbo for daring to call Ojukwu an “Extrimist” he should be ostracized for showing disrespect to the late leader of the party.
Okwu had in his post-election speech at the convention of APGA in Awka, Anambra State last Monday, described Ojukwu as an extremist saying his leadership of the party would adopt non-extremists philosophy of the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. He said that “political reality in Nigeria does not favour extremism.”
According to him, the reality of the time must be faced, even though he would not like to out-rightly dump the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s seeming extremist stance in matters concerning Ndigbo. “Zik was known for not blowing too hot on political issues, he was not an extremist, and that philosophy will guide APGA henceforth,” said Okwu.
But reacting to the statement yesterday, Chief Victor Umeh who was restored to office as National Chairman of the party by the Court of Appeal Enugu on Monday, said that Okwu should apologize to Ndigbo for casting an undeserved aspersion on their revered leader failing which he should be ostracized.
Umeh, who addressed a press conference in Enugu, stated that it was the height of insult and irresponsibility for Okwu to dismiss Ojukwu and his struggle for emancipation of Ndigbo as an extremist, noting that but for Ojukwu’s struggle Okwu and millions of Igbo wouldn’t have been alive today.
He said that it was even a greater insult for Okwu to stand on the platform of APGA, which Ojukwu fought and laboured to wean, and denigrate him while Anambtra State Governor, Mr. Obi, who he said was the greatest beneficiary of Ojukwu’s struggle, sat down and watched.
He recalled that Okwu was expelled from APGA alongside Chief Chekwas Okorie, the former Chairman of the party, on alleged perfidy and attempt to sell Obi’s mandate and that Ojukwu as a disciplinarian supported their expulsion.
“For Maxi to come out now to describe our great respected leader both in Nigeria and internationally as an extremist goes to show you the level of destruction that he is planning for APGA.
“From what he said, he has defined a new vision for APPGA, which is a vision of moderation. Ojukwu was never an extremist, Ojukwu was a man who stood very strongly for justice, a man who stood very strongly against injustice, a man who stood aginst oppression of people, a man who stood for equity and fairness, a man who stood for rule of law, a man who stood for democracy.
“It is an abomination for any person who claims to be standing on the platform of APGA to describe Ojukwu’s virtues as extremist. This is blasphemy of the highest proportion and those of us who worked with Ojukwu as our leader in APGA, those he left APGA in their hands will not stand by and watch and see a man who does not have any political character or vision begin to describe Ojukwu in such denigrating words; I call on not just APGA members but Ndigbo in general to ostracize Maxi Okwu until he retracts that statement and renders unreserved apology to Ndigbo.” he said.
On Okwu’s remarks that the appeal court ruling that granted a stay of execution of Justice Innocent Umezurike’s high court judgment and restored Umeh as National Chairman of the party was an exercise in futility, Umeh said that it was further demonstration of the fact that Okwu was not familiar with the law even though a lawyer.
He said that the case had declarative and injunctive elements, adding that even though the court was right to say that it has no business to stay the declarative orders made by the Enugu high court, it had powers to stay the injunctive orders which removed him from office, which was what the appellate court did.
Umeh stressed that the appeal court also considered the fact that his appeal was based on jurisdiction of the trial court to handle the case in the first instance, which according to common law practice ought to have made Justice Umezurike to disqualify himself.
On the claim by Umeh and Governor Obi that their national convention was valid, Umeh said that what they did was a nullity and that many documents were forged to deceive INEC into coming to observe the convention, even though, INEC’s observation of any convention does not confer validity on the process as even INEC itself can still reject it after studying the reports as it did in the case of PDP.
He said that in due course Okwu and his co-travelers would be committed to prison for alleged forgery.
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