BY RAPHAEL ONYEKACHUKWU, AWKA – Less than 72 hours after the National Secretariat of United Progressive Party (UPP) cleared contestants for its gubernatorial primaries ahead of the November 2017 Anambra State governorship elections, crisis now brews in the Party as the State Chapter has suspended indefinitely two front runners in the race.
Caught in the suspension web are a two-term member of the House of Representatives, Chudi Offodile; and former Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and immediate past Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka.
The UPP’s gubernatorial primary poll is slated for Saturday, August 19, 2017 at Awka, the Anambra State capital.
Rising from a hurriedly arranged emergency meeting at the party headquarters in Akwa on Tuesday, the State Working Committee of UPP led its chairman, Dr. Sylvester Igwilo said Offodile and Chidoka were placed on indefinite suspension for breaching Article 7; sub-section (b) of the UPP constitution.
In a press briefing after the SWC meeting, Sir Igwilo, who read the communiqué jointly signed with the Secretary, Fidelis Okafor, accused the two contestants of not producing and presenting to the State chapter any documentary evidence to prove that they have resigned their membership of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before joining UPP
According to the communiqué: “grounds for their indefinite suspension include breach of article 7(b) of the UPP’s registered constitution, particularly on non-production/submission of any documentary evidence that they resigned their membership of PDP before joining UPP.
“Breach of Article 20; Osita Chidoka established a group styled OSITADINMA 2017, in whatever form or manner and in whatever name in promoting or attaining political objective and opened a page on Facebook on July, 22nd, 2017”, stressing that under article 20, any member who contravened this provision stands to be expelled from the Party.
In breach of Article 21 paragraph 1(b), the chairman further said both Chidoka and Offodile introduced money politics by inducing members with cash donations that tend to bring the image of the Party into disrepute and ridicule.
They were also accused of going to Abuja to deposit the sum of N5 million without the consent and approval of the State Executive Committee, describing such action as illegal and unbecoming of the party’s leaders.
Similarly, the SWC accused them of “appearing for a purported screening without the approval and authority of State Executive Committee, outside the provision in the Party Constitution Article 16(d) Anti-Party Activities to undermine the State Executive Authority on Party Congress.
“Branding of motor vehicle with personal picture instead of the Party Logo, in clear violation of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and illegally opening personal campaign offices outside the Party Local branch offices, thereby running a parallel party organization”, it reads.
Also suspended by the party for obvious constitutional breaches and anti-party activities are; Flint Obiekwe and one Dominic Anyichie
Dr. Igwilo said the suspension order would remain in place pending the determination of their case by the Disciplinary Committee comprising seven (7) members of the Party’s State Executive Committee in line with Article 21, Paragraphs 3 and 4 of its Constitution.
Interestingly, the action is coming just few days after both aspirants were given a bill of health by the Party’s Screening Committee led by its National Secretary, Alhaji Sadeeq Masalla.
This clearance was further confirmed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Ogbuehi Dike, who was quoted as saying that; “Following the report of the Screening Committee, the Party can now confirm that Hon. Chudi Offodile and Chief Osita Chidoka are eligible to participate in its Primary Election scheduled to hold on Saturday 19th August 2017, at Awka, Anambra State.”