National Vice Chairman, Northwest, of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, Salihu Moh. Lukman has dismissed threats of a lawsuit made against him by the National Secretary of the party, Senator Iyiola Omisore over alleged claims by the former accusing the party scribe of not accounting for funds deployed for the last governorship election in Osun State.
In a letter by his lawyers, Lex-Hill City Attorneys, signed by Martins Joseph Esq and addressed to Omisore’s lawyers, Lords Temple, Lukman said the party secretary deserves no apology.
The letter reads; “We write as solicitors to Mr. Salihu Mohammed Lukman (‘our Client’) and on whose instructions we write to acknowledge receipt and to reply to your letter dated 15th March 2023 on behalf of Senator Iyiola Omisore.
“In the said letter, you referred to a statement made by our Client in the course of an interview with African Independent Television (‘AIT’) when he featured as a guest in one of their programmes, Jigsaw, hosted by Mr Gbenga Aruleba, which you alleged to have maligned the character of Senator Iyiola Omisore in his personal and political stature in Osun state and in Nigeria.
“It is the opinion of our Client that the statement he issued as a member and national officer of the All Progressives Congress (‘the APC’) is not false, not malicious or made to assassinate the character of your client as you suggested in your letter. The statement was purely a demand by a member of the APC for accountability from its National Secretary.
“Therefore, our Client believes that your client does not deserve any apology for the statement as it is within his constitutional rights as a member to demand accountability from a national officer of the APC, which was built on the premise of accountability”.
Lukman on his part, has described as a needless distraction from the main issues of accountability and inclusive governance, threats by Senator Omisore to slam a defamation suit against him.
Lukman had on Friday said with a Muslim-Muslim presidency of Asíwájú Bola Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima, there was need to ensure religious balancing, adding that the party’s national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu should be replaced with a Christian from the same North Central while Omisore should be replaced with another person from his state, because his emergence had divided the Osun State chapter of the party.
However, in an interview on the Africa Independent Television AlT on Tuesday, 14th March, Lukman allegedly went further to accuse Omisore of mismanaging funds deployed for the last Osun State Governorship election.
“And that is where we are and that is partly what is producing some of the unhealthy development in the party. For instance, Osun State, which is part of the reason why I said the National Secretary has failed, in terms of stabilizing Osun and uniting people. Part of the issue with that is that I am aware the party has given some campaign funds to Osun which was handled by the National Secretary and to some extent, he has either mismanaged it but more importantly, he is not accounting to anybody and you have to activate the process of accountability”, Lukman had allegedly said on the television programme.
Omisore, through his lawyers, ‘Lords Temple’ on Wednesday however wrote Lukman, threatening to institute libel proceedings against him.
To stave off any court action, the party scribe specifically demanded within 48 hours, a retraction of the said libelous statement and an apology to be published in two major newspapers and several online news outlets as well as “the payment of the sum of N500 million as damages for malicious statement against our client”.
The party’s national vice chairman however said while on the television show, he only reiterated his call on the National Chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu Sen. Omisore to vacate their seats in the interest of the country, the party and as a demonstration of strong support for the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to proceed with the business of constituting an inclusive Federal Government led by him come May 29, 2023.
He said; “While in the case of the National Chairman, Sen. Adamu, the call is necessitated by the need to douse ethnic and religious tensions in the country because of the desperate campaigns led by PDP and LP during the Presidential election, the case of Sen. Omisore is necessitated by his inability to provide the needed leadership in Osun, which cost us the 2022 Osun Governorship election.
“I further supported my call for Sen. Omisore to vacate his position as the National Secretary with the demand for accountability around the management of campaign funds provided by the party, which was delivered through Sen. Omisore.
“In response, Sen. Omisore has sent abusive messages and requested his lawyer, Mr. Gboyega Oyewole, SAN, FCArb to ask me to retract my statement, make public apology and pay him the sum of N500 million in compensation for some alleged damages to ‘his character in the eyes of right-thinking Nigerians.’ I am in receipt of the letter from Lords & Temple, signed by Mr. Oyewole, dated 15th March, 2023 (the letter was actually wrongly dated 15th March 2022).
“Since Sen. Omisore’s response to the request for accountability is to threaten legal action, I have also instructed my lawyers to respond appropriately to his legal threat.
“However, as a committed party member I insist that the challenges facing us as a party and as a nation are broadly political and limiting our actions to the courts may only distract us from initiating the right responses to resolve the challenge of facilitating negotiations for inclusive government under the leadership of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I want to restate that being leaders of the party, we are obligated to facilitate negotiations through our structures, namely National Executive Committee NEC and National Caucus. Unfortunately, as things are, these structures have been frozen by our inactions as members of the National Working Committee NWC led by Sen. Adamu and Sen. Omisore.
Frozen party organs
“No meetings of these structures have taken place for almost a year. Inability to make these structures functional will weaken the capacity to regulate the conduct of party leaders and we risk creating a situation whereby challenges of inclusivity will be further compounded in the country. Already, individual Senators-elect and House of Representative members-elect have begun to aspire to positions of Senate President and Speaker House of Representatives in a very insensitive and reckless manner.
“May I once again remind all of us, both as leaders and APC members, that APC is a product of sacrifices and more than ever before the challenges we face today calls for sacrifices. Both our National Chairman, Sen. Adamu and National Secretary, Sen. Omisore must demonstrate willingness to make sacrifices to earn the respect and followership of Senators-elect and House of Representative members-elect.
“I make this appeal respectfully and without any ill-feeling to anyone, including Sen. Omisore. I stand by my position that Sen. Omisore is unable to unite party leaders and members in Osun State, which is responsible for why we lost the election.
“He is opposed to any demand for accountability and is resorting to acts of intimidation to perhaps manipulate processes of appointment into the Asiwaju-led Federal Government.
“What makes democracy attractive is the requirement for accountability and Sen. Omisore must be held accountable. We need to have accountable leaders to the process of negotiations to be facilitated by the party.
“Finally, after 24 years of uninterrupted democracy, we must not shy away from initiatives that will strengthen internal contests within our party, APC. Part of the big challenge of Nigeria’s democracy is that internal contest is being destroyed. As a result, we produced situations where some leaders act as tyrants. Anyone who expresses views that are not in harmony with thinking of some leaders is condemned. This attitude is responsible for the destruction of PDP as a party and is gradually being entrenched in our party. There should be conscious efforts to call these leaders to order!
“Both as party leaders and Nigerians, we must wake up to the reality that negotiation to form the next APC government under the leadership of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu must depart from the conventional approach of allowing leaders to emerge based on individual aspirations. We cannot risk any further complication of entrenchment of the existing religiously lopsided Muslim-Muslim identity of Asiwaju Tinubu and Sen. Shettima. No legal threat should distract us from addressing this challenge”, Lukman added.
The party has officially not taken a position on the spat between the two leaders.