RE: “CRISIS LOOMS IN LAGOS NCP”
Rejoinder to The Punch
RE: “CRISIS LOOMS IN LAGOS NCP”
On behalf of the Lagos State Chapter of the National Conscience Party (NCP), permit me to make the following preliminary points against the total fallacious and concocted story published under the above-cited caption in the Sunday Punch of December 17, 2006. My father’s name is Aderemi but I am more publicly known as Segun Sango by every member of the NCP in Lagos State. Therefore in this rejoinder, every reference to Sango means Aderemi.
Firstly, we wish to dissociate the entire membership of the NCP in Lagos State from the baseless and malicious attack on Chief Gani Fawehinmi who was alleged in the story in issue as having imposed Mr. Segun Sango, the current chairperson of the party in Lagos State. The alarming headline gives the impression of a division within the leadership of the party in the state and or that the state chapter is at war with Chief Gani Fawehinmi. And without citing any member of the party in Lagos state to back up this spurious claim, the reporter just went ahead to cite a so-called “South-South Chairman” of the party as the one actually making unfounded allegations against both Gani and Segun Sango. Here, I wish to ask: how can someone described as the “South-South National Chairman” of the party be the authoritative person to speak on such grave allegations concerning a state chapter in the South-West Zone? This is even more so when the so-called Deputy National Chairman (NDC) for the Zone, Mr. Femi Falana, was reachable by the writer of the story in issue. This is nothing but sheer perfidy.
For record purposes, Mr. Sango and other members of the current state executive committee were elected in accordance with the party’s constitution in September 2004 and will be in office till September 2007. Just last Saturday, December 16, 2006, the state chapter of the party led by Segun Sango held a congress to elect its candidates for the 2007 general elections. Present at this occasion, which was covered by reputable media organisations like the Guardian, AIT, LTV, etc, were Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Mr. Akinwumi Akinbohun, an INEC representative. Against this background, the allegation of imposition of Segun Sango on the party for “another term” when the term for which he was actually elected will not expire until 2007 is not only ridiculous, it is mischievous and malicious.
MISMANAGEMENT OF OVER N20 MILLION
In the story in issue, one Pastor Omoragbon Peters, who was described as the “National Chairman of the party, south-south” also accused Mr. Sango of having mismanaged “over N20 million without presenting audited account throughout his eight year tenure”
We wish to state categorically, without any fear of contradictions, that this allegation is totally false and malicious. The peak of the NCP profile and activity was the period leading to the 2003 general elections. Despite and in spite of the massive manipulations which characterized that elections, the Lagos State NCP led by Mr. Sango came third spending less than N9 million to prosecute its electoral campaigns, purchase of two buses, and other equipment, together with payment of staff salaries and general expenditures. This sum was raised and managed by the party’s fund-raising committee comprising Mrs. Teju Abiola, the then Deputy Governorship candidate, Messrs Lateef Abassi, the then Governorship candidate and Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika in his capacity as the Lagos Director of Campaigns in the 2003 general elections. After the elections, the professional Accountant hired by the party during the campaigns actually produced a full financial statement of the party’s incomes and expenditures with respect to the afore-stated sum.
Before the 2003 elections period, the highest individual donations received by the Lagos State chapter of the NCP led by Segun Sango was a total sum of N2 million from Mr. Lateef Abassi, the party’s gubernatorial candidate in the 2003 general elections. This donation was partly inspired by the example of Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika who had jointly contributed money to rent an office for the party at Acme Road, Ogba.
Apart from the aforementioned notable donations and assistance, the party, at all other times, has being living from hand to mouth. In fact, in the aftermath mass apathy which followed the massively rigged 2003 general elections, many of our erstwhile financial contributors have either left or virtually become inactive in the party, thus worsening an already tight financial situation. Nonetheless, we wish to state that the party’s accounts at the state level had always been rendered to the appropriate organ as and when due. We consequently challenge Omoragbon to come up with facts to back up his reckless allegation in this respect.
EXPULSION AND REINSTATEMENT
Although, it is not expressly made clear in the story in issue, a careful perusal of the series of the party’s constitutional provisions detailing how a disciplined member can get re-absorbed into the party’s fold, quoted by The Punch Reporter, Femi Adetunji, clearly reveals the fact that Omoragbon’s baseless and malicious attack against Mr. Sango and Chief Gani Fawehinmi was because he, Omoragbon, and possibly a few others did not agree with the decision of the National Coordinating Council (NCC) of December 9, 2006 which lifted the expulsion order passed on Mr Sango at its Kaduna meeting of July 22, 2006.
Here, we wish to put on record that the NCC which held at Kaduna on July 22, 2006 had purportedly expelled Mr. Sango, and suspended other party leaders from Lagos, Osun and Oyo States respectively. The letter of expulsion served on Sango said he, Sango, was expelled for his alleged role in electing Mr. Wale Balogun to replace Mr. Femi Falana as the party National Deputy Chairperson (NDC) in the south west and also for “orchestrating a disdainful walk out on the NCC in session”. Other leaders were summarily suspended on the basis of their alleged “disdainful walk out of the NCC meeting”. Suffice to note, neither Segun Sango nor the other party leaders purportedly expelled and suspended were queried over the alleged offences before the NCC passed the said disciplinary measures.
Consequently, up till December 9, 2006 when the NCC reversed its earlier decision to expel Mr. Sango, the Lagos State Chapter of the Party had unanimously rejected and ignored the said expulsion order hinging among other reasons its position on Article 3.2 of the party constitution which states that, “No disciplinary action or actions taken or imposed on or against any member shall be valid unless such a member is informed in writing of the complaints against him/her and given a reasonable time and opportunity to defend himself/herself’.
Most regrettably however, while The Punch Reporter was busy citing constitutional provisions that seem to justify why Mr. Sango reinstatement was unconstitutional, he totally failed or neglected to cite this basic constitutional provision that puts the purported expulsion into question abinitio. Much more importantly, the Reporter failed to ask Omoragbon, and if he did, he failed to tell us why Omoragbon failed to raise objections to Sango’s reinstatement at the last NCC meeting, which was held at Fawehinmi Chambers, where the expulsion order in issue was reversed.
THERE CAN BE NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE
We in the Lagos State NCP hereby urge the discerning members of the public not to be deceived and distracted by the false allegations coming from renegades who want to destroy the party’s radical, pro-masses stance. While elements like Omoragbon would want us to sell the party to money bags and or their surrogates, Segun Sango and others have been struggling to keep the party as a truly masses’ platform. Hence our opponents bitterness and morbid desire to illegally push us out of the party.
From the beginning, Chief Gani Fawehinmi had expressed his total objection to the purported expulsion and suspensions in issue, hinging his position, among other reasons, on the fact that the purported expulsion and suspensions were nothing short of political decapitation of the party in Lagos State, its arguably, most successful chapter. Propelled by this conviction, Chief Gani Fawehinmi spared no effort to make Dr. Osagie Obayuwana led NEC to reverse the questionable disciplinary actions. The NCC of December 9, 2006 was the outcome of Gani’s effort in this regard.
It will be inappropriate to end this rejoinder without underlining the trait of yellow journalism which characterises the story under review. Also noteworthy is the fact that the planted/slanted story represents a sharp departure from The Punch’s well-known tradition of robust journalism, especially in favour of those under unjust attacks by those in authority. We shall be specific.
Two persons residing in Lagos State, in persons of Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Segun Sango were alleged of certain wrong doings. But very ignominiously, The Punch Reporter went to town with the story without the courtesy of getting our own reactions! He falsely claimed that Sango’s phone was switched off. But the question is what is urgent about an allegation of financial mismanagement which allegedly covers a period of 8 years that the Reporter cannot wait to seek Sango for his own side of the story? If Sango was not reachable, what about Chief Gani Fawehinmi who lives a stone’s throw from The Punch headquarters? While the Reporter quoted Mr. Falana to the effect that Gani only advised “the party members to forgive Mr. Aderemi (Sango) and allow peace to reign”, he failed or totally neglected to make it clear that Gani supposed advice has nothing to do with the reckless and malicious accusations emanating from Omoragbon.
Finally, the report in issue dwells much extensively on Sango’s expulsion and his alleged illegal reinstatement without giving as much as a clue on what Sango was expelled for and how he was reinstated. The reason for this act of omission or commission is borne out of a deliberate design to create a diversionary attack on the Segun Sango led NCP in Lagos State so that Omoragbon and his gang can impose an unknown person, a non-member of NCP, as the party’s governorship candidate in Lagos State in place of Mr. Lanre Arogundade, the democratically elected governorship candidate of the party come 2007 election. We shall not be distracted.