By Enobong Joseph
Despite intervention by the national echelon of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the lingering leadership tussle in the Cross River state chapter continued at the weekend with Ntufam Hilliard Eta, the National Vice Chairman, South South, rejecting the outcome of the congress held on Saturday through which Hon Godwin Etim John emerged the new Chairman of the State Chapter.
Eta is insisting that apart from the subsisting litigations over the leadership tussle, a court injunction was served the party prior to the congress to stop the exercise pending the determination of the matter, and added, “once a court order has been served, the parties must resort to status quo until the exhaustion of the litigation process regarding the issue in contention”.
He berated those celebrating the victory of Godwin John, describing the said victory as ‘nullity and illegality,’ saying such people were displaying flagrant disregard for court orders.
The Zonal Chair further expressed surprise that the congress committee went ahead with the exercise thereby defying the court order/injunction, but assured that the national leadership of the party would not condone ‘such illegality.”
”Those celebrating have again exposed their folly of the law and of due process. It’s a caricature of sort that these folks still live with the mentality of their former political platforms,” he said, adding that with such scenario, Ochala remains the head of the party in the State till further notice.
Recall that Hon Godwin Etim John was said to have emerged the new Chairman during a mini congress held at the party Secretariat on Saturday after defeating former permanent Secretary, Dr. Mike Achigbge. Whereas John polled 56 votes, his opponent had 36 votes. Secretary of the Election Appeal Committee, Chibuike Ogbeama, who announced the result declared Godwin John a winner.
Our reporter gathered that the ongoing crisis climaxed with division of the State chapter into two factions led by the Zonal Chairman and the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs respectively. While the Zonal Chairman is reportedly supporting Ochala, the Minister is believed to be in support of the new chairman, Godwin Etim John. The minister was the State Chairman before his appointment and since then, the party has known no peace.
The national body had stepped in so as to stem the tide of accusations and counter accusations which resulted in several suspensions of officials and members. Election was accordingly fixed for last Saturday and conducted by committee sent from Abuja/
However, with the rejection of the newly elected Chairman by the Zonal authorities, it is difficult to say who exactly would superintends over the affairs of the Barracks Road secretariat of the party, whether John Ochala who has been acting for some years now or the newly elected Godwin Etim John.