By Steve Oni, Ilorin
Stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress party (APC) in Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State have condemned the takeover and transfer of the assault case filed by them at Upper Area Court, Lafiagi, headquarters of Edu Local Government Area, to Ilorin by the State Government.
The state government’s action, they said, was a ploy to deny the complainants justice, adding that the action is irregular and illegal since the alleged criminal attack was committed in Lafiagi and not Ilorin.
It would be recalled that hoodlums broke into the membership revalidation and registration meeting of the APC stakeholders in Lafiagi on February 8, 2021, disrupting it and injuring some people and vandalising a number of vehicles. The state government had also condemned the attack, while denying its involvement as alleged.
Speaking with journalists in Lafiagi at the weekend, spokesman of the party members, Alhaji Manzuma Tsoeda Mamman, said the transfer of the case was suspicious due to the alleged involvement of some suspected individuals close to the state government.
Mamman, who said there was no request by the complainants for any government intervention, added that counsel engaged by them for the case was in court in Lafiagi when the State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ordered the transfer of the case from Lafiagi to Ilorin.
He said: “On arrival at the Upper Area Court, Lafiagi, on the appointed day, the Registrar of the court informed our complainants and counsel that the court was not sitting as our case file had been transferred since February 17, 2021 to Ilorin on the order of the Kwara State Director of Area Courts. When we inquired about the rationale behind the transfer of the case file, the Registrar informed us that at about 8:00 am of the same day, the court received a copy of a letter dated February 17, 2021 written by the Kwara State Ministry of Justice and addressed to the Director of Area Courts on their intention to take over the prosecution of the case for ease of trial.”
The takeover of the prosecution and transfer of the case file, the spokesman said, was illegal and politically motivated, adding that the case was personally instituted by private individuals who were directly affected by the alleged criminal attack.
Mamman said there is no incumbent Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Kwara as the State Executive Council has been dissolved, adding that the constitutional power of the Attorney General of the Federation or of any State to takeover the prosecution of a case can only be exercised by the state Attorney General himself or he may formally delegate such power to officers of the Ministry of Justice under his jurisdiction.
The members, however, called for unity especially among critical stakeholders within the party, stressing the need for them to ensure they guide against infiltration by bad elements to ease their victory come 2023
The meeting of the stakeholders also called for the cancellation of the ongoing membership registration and revalidation exercise in Kwara State, saying it is being done in utter disregard to the guidelines issued by the National Secretariat of the party, such that the exercise did not take place in any polling centre throughout the Edu Local Government Area of the state. The meeting demanded that a new committee should be set up for the exercise as the incumbent committee was allegedly compromised.
The APC Edu Local Government Area of Kwara also joined the call by the entire people of Kwara North Senatorial Zone for their decision to ensure that the next Governor of the state in 2023 emerges from Kwara North, saying that only political parties that zone their governorship candidates to the Kwara North would be supported by the people of the zone in the next general elections.