… It’s Not True, the Embattled Chairman Kicks
The Benue State Chapter of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) says its State Chairman, Comrade Paul Salem, has stepped down from his position so as to be tried following accusations of gross misconduct levelled against him by the State Working Committee (SWC) of the Party.
This was contained in a copy of the resolutions reached on 5th September, 2022 at an emergency Exco meeting of the SWC signed by the State Publicity Secretary of the Party, Comrade Moses Haruna, and made available to SkyNews on Tuesday, 6th September, 2022. It was copied to APGA National Secretariat, Independent National Electoral Commission, Department of State Security Service, Benue State Commissioner of Police, Leader of the party, All Benue APGA candidates and all Media practitioners.
The copy of the resolutions read in part: All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Benue State Chapter, State Working Committee (SWC) held and emergency meeting on 5th September, 2022 to resolve on issues ahead of 2023 general elections. Excerpts of the meeting are as follows:
“Comrade Salem has been asked to step down as Chairman of Benue APGA to answer petitions against him for transparency and fairness as his continued stay will be unfair and counterproductive in the disciplinary committee hearing.
“The deputy Chairman, Idoko Samuel takes over as Acting Chairman of APGA Benue to State to keep the party moving and to forestall stagnation of Party activities.
“That Comrade Paul Salem be given time to reply the petition against him in writing to the disciplinary committee as he has promised to do so in the shortest possible time.
“That an expanded stakeholders meeting would be held a day after submission of Paul Salem’s reply to the petition against him to the disciplinary committee and due notification of SWC.
“That from the above resolutions of SWC, all official party activities Correspondences and engagements be handled by the Acting Chairman pending any further resolutions”.
But in his reaction, Comrade Salem in a WhatsApp chat with SkyNews on Tuesday 6th September, 2022, denied stepping down from his position as APGA State Chairman and rather alleged that few members of the SWC conspired against him.
“There was no official meeting on the 5th Sept. of the state working committee. The Publicity secretary of the party Haruna, called few of us for a way forward.
“My brother, before now, these few people conspired and leveled false allegations against me led by my deputy, Samuel Idoko, which the National working committee has over ruled their so-called vote of no confidence when both the Governorship candidate and the state working committee were invited for a resolution in Abuja”, he claimed.
SkyNews gathered that prior to the resolutions reached on 5th September, 2022, the Benue APGA SWC had on 15th June, 2022 passed a vote of no confidence on Comrade Paul Salem and communicated same to the national Chairman of the party.
The vote of confidence was allegedly due to Comrade Salem’s lack of transparency, misappropriation of party funds, anti-party activities, no existing committee in Benue Chapter of APGA, no regards for members of the state working committee and APGA members in the state as well as running the party like a personal business.
Comrade Salem however debunked the issues raised in the voice of no confidence and told SkyNews that “the reason the Legal Adviser is causing the crises is because of the money that was shared by their Zonal Vice Chairmen which everyone got but his share was not given to him for reasons I didn’t Know. All efforts to mediate proved abortive and the man decided to fuel crises”, he said.
But the APGA State Legal Adviser, Pastor Onyebuchi Emmanuel Azuh, who did not deny being against the Chairman for reasons of alleged financial misappropriation however said, he didn’t have any interest in the N100,000 but he was rather setting a trap against Comrade Salem to fall in !
“He is fabricating lies here and there in order to cover his atrocities but the atrocities are so many that he cannot cover it anymore.
“As a Legal Adviser of the Party, the state working committee of the party instructed me and I wrote on their behalf, asking him to account for all the money for the party that has been passing through him and who authourizes the spending. We were acting within our constitution and that is what he has been dodging and there is no way he can dodge it.
“If his hands are clean, what is difficult for him to give us vivid account of the money that came into the party and how he spent it. That’s the case my brother.
“He is a fool for mentioning that one hundred thousand naira. If he had brought that money, as a Lawyer, there is no way I would have collected the money because I knew that one day like this will come because I have been setting that trap for him. He has been embezzling party money for quite a long time. That thing didn’t start today. So there is no way I will see somebody committing financial misconduct as a Lawyer, then he will give me part of the money and I will accept. So for him to say that that N100,000 is why I am kicking, he is is like somebody that is drawing and is just looking for who to blame.
“I have been waiting for a day like this, it is not issue of N100,000, he should understand that I am a Lawyer, I cannot do something that will later back fire on me”, Pastor Onyebuchi argued.
But in his counter claim, Comrade Paul Salem sent to SkyNews the screenshots of Pastor Emmanuel Onyebuchi’s WhatsApp conversation with him in which he threatened the him (Salem) to pay him the money. The screenshot also contained the bank account details of the Pastor Onyebuchi for Salem to fund it.
He said, “imagine if the Legal Adviser who is claiming misappropriation has never been on ground for either advice or support during the building and elections he is angry because he was supposed to be given #100k and his people didn’t give him. How is that my problem and my deputy who is desperately in need of power is supporting him”.
Salem who also sent a copy of his reinstatement to SkyNews claimed that the matter was before the National Chairman of APGA and there was no way the State Chapter of the party would handle it.
“The matter is before the National chairmanand in law, if the matter is in supreme court, a high court can’t try again.
“I’ll convene a stakeholders meeting to put the record straight”, the embattled Chairman said.
The June 15 vote of no confidence on Comrade Paul Salem further read: “the chairman has made it difficult for the party to discipline any erring members since he dissolved the disciplinary committee making it easy for him alone to single-handedly suspend or expel members at every slight provocation.
“It is on record that you (National APGA Chairman) released the sum of N500,000 for the party Secretariat but nothing was done until the leader of the party, Arch. Aker Vishigh came and paid for the current secretariat.
“The chairman has never for once given the party the account of the party money all he does is spending.
“No member of the party knows the financial status at the party as it stands. Even when members demand for statement of account during our various congresses, they meet stiff resistance from the chairman.
“He has been loyal to PDP for a very long time now, a good example when he took APGA court progress and other relevant documents from State Legal Adviser to PDP Chairman. The just concluded local government election in Benue State is another example as he was spotted in Benue State Government House on the day of said election.
“Another case of Anti Party was the case of him shortchanging a State House of Assembly candidate for Otukpo Akpa State constituency for a sitting PDP State Assembly member who lost primaries in the just concluded primary election where he sent a soft copy to the Honorable assuring him of the ticket for an undisclosed amount.
“No office in Benue State chapter of APGA is functional except the office of the chairman. He has refused to allow all other officers discharge their duties since he hold all the document to himself.
“As it stands, no members of the State working committee knows or have access to the comprehensive list of candidates for 2023 election.
“His persistent attacks on our candidates the moment they fail to meet up with his incessant financial demands. He did it to John Tseaya our former gubernatorial candidate in 2019 election, and that resulted to the young man leaving the party till date. He has started again with Joseph Waya all because of his high daily money demands. The moment you fail to give him money, he will start blackmailing such a candidate.
“The chairman has no regards for the members of the State working committee at all level as he fire and hire at his convenience without following due process. No body dares to question his autocratic and tyrant style of leadership.
“He operates like a dictator. The chairman has recently barred members of the working committee from communicating with party candidate on a personal or official ground on the party official whatsapp page as he threaten to sanction any member who goes against his command.
“He has also refused to constitute a financial committee that is supposed to be headed by the state Treasurer and other seven members as provided by the party constitution Article 17 (b) which says that there shall be a financial committee headed by the Treasurer and seven other members including the financial secretary to be appointed by the state executive committee of the party and shall advise the party on ways and means of generating funds, properties and investing for the party in accordance with the constitution.
“Since his assumption of office, he has not been transparent for once. He single-handedly manages the party like a personal business.
“The just concluded local government election in Benue State is a good example as only him can tell what transpired that made BSIEC to publish our party name when we did not participate in the election and even when we persuaded him to report the matter to our national body or challenge BSIEC and Benue State Government in Court, he downplayed the issue after collecting undisclosed amount of money from Benue State Government and PDP and became mute.
“How long shall we continue this way?
In view of these gross misconduct by the chairman paul Salem and in accordance with the relevant provisions of the constitution of APGA, we the members of the State working committee whose names and signature appear here under in a congress held on the 15th June 2022 at the party Secretariat here by unanimously pass a vote of no confidence on the Benue State chairman of APGA. Comr. Paul Salem and we pray you use your good office to affirm our resolution and appoint an acting chairman to oversee the affairs of the party and to enable APGA scale through the forthcoming election.
Reacting to the allegation that Benue APGa did not participate in 2022 local government elections but the party’s name was published by BSIEC probably for a fishy deal, Comrade Salem countered the allegation again and availed SkyNews a copy of the notification of APGA primary election for nomination of fresh candidates to replace withdrawn candidates in line with section 33 of the the Electoral Act, 2022, signed by the APGA National Chairman, Ozonkpu Dr Victor Ike Oye, and the Deputy National Secretary, Chief Godwin Udu, and submitted to the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC) through him, the State Chairman, Comrade Paul Salem.
The notice read, “you will recall that by section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2022, political parties intending to replace withdrawn or dead candidates shall hold a fresh primary election to produce a fresh candidate for the election concerned.
“Consequently, your Commission is hereby notified that the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) primary election for the nomination of fresh candidates for withdrawn candidates will be held nationwide Tuesday, July 12,2022.
“The precise venues and time of the primaries will be communicated to your commission subsequently.
“Pls accept as always, the assurances of our highest consideration”.