By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The internal wranglings among the National Executive arm of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) seems to have blown into a full crisis which has crippled the once vibrant group, known for defending the interest of Southern Kaduna.
According sources, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of SOKAPU met in Kaduna on May 13, 2023 and suspended the entire National exco of the union.
This came after the President of SOKAPU, Mr Dio Awemi Maisamari made an opening remarks in Kaduna, in which he indicted himself of failure to lead SOKAPU and tendered his resignation.
This prompted the NEC to suspend the entire exco. And investigation committee was formed. Also, a caretaker committee was inaugurated to run the union for three months.
But the suspended exco, which may be heading to court if the matter is not resolved, according to a source, have strongly challenged its suspension.
In a letter of protest written to the Chairman, Board of Trustee (BoT) of SOKAPU, elder Stephen Bangoji, the aggreived members wrote that their suspension did not follow due process and as such, they are seeking intervention of the BoT.
A copy of the letter which was obtained by our corresponded is titled: “Request For Urgent Intervention On The Purported Suspension of the CEC By NEC.”
The letter stated with an opening: “The Central Executive Committee (CEC) has been embroiled in leadership crisis which has pitched the President of SOKAPU, Mr. Awemi Dio Maisamari, the General Secretary, Mr Stephen Mallan on one side and 13 other members of the exco,” the letter noted.
“This development has been previously conveyed to you in which you tried to intervene but to no avail,” it went on.
“Some of the areas in which we have had major disagreements with the two are: “Subsuming SOKAPU under one Southern Kaduna Leadership Council (SKLC), which is an aberration of the norm. SOKAPU cannot be under any Southern Kaduna group, without amending the constitution of our great union.
“The President is more loyal to the Community Development Associations’ (CDA) forum and CONEACDA in which he has remained the President of Adara Development Association (ADA) and the Vice President of CONEACDA.
“He has also refused to abide by agreed resolutions during exco meetings. He is also fond of unauthorized withdrawals of funds among others.
“Since the coming of Maisamari as SOKAPU President, SOKAPU has never carried out a single activity even with all the serious issues that Southern Kaduna was facing,” the 13 members of the embattled exco alleged in the letter.
“Mr Mallan, the GS, has shown shocking incompetence since he was voted into office in 2019. He has never produced a single minute of our meeting. Aside that, he was absent from his duty post from 2020 to 2022,” said the group.
“On the 25th April, 2023, the President convened a CEC meeting in which, again, we had heated debates on several matters. He then announced that there will be a NEC meeting on the 13th of May, 2023 in which matters that we couldn’t address at the CEC will be tabled before the NEC. We then agreed that before the NEC, we have to sit and draft an agenda and decide on issues to be tabled before the NEC,” said the CEC.
“We arrived the NEC meeting early, hoping that we shall draft an agenda for the meeting. But unknown to CEC, Maisamari had a prepared agenda without consulting with us. We were later to find out that Mr Dio had a meeting with some members of the CDA forum in which the agenda of the NEC meeting was drafted. We were made to understand that the plan was to allow Maisamari to honourably resign while we the remaining exco were to be suspended so as to dent our image,” the group alleged.
“When the meeting started, the President made a long welcome remark which was laced with false and malicious allegations against us,” the group claimed.
“He admitted that he had failed in his duties and owned responsibility for all that happened under his tenure.
“He even tendered a receipt of N1,065,000 (one million, sixty Five Thousand Naira) which he said was a loan he took from the coffers of SOKAPU, to buttress one of the allegations against him,” reads the letter.
“He then tendered his resignation and pleaded that it should be immediately adopted,” said the letter.
According to the letter, the confession of failure by Maisamari and his tendering to resign caused a stir at the meeting. The embattled exco said that instead of being allowed to defend themselves, the NEC summarily suspended them, formed an investigation committee and a Caretaker Committee to run the union.
The letter continued: “Sir, may we draw your attention to section 26 (v) of the SOKAPU constitution which reads inter alia, ‘no disciplinary measures shall be taken against any member until a disciplinary committee must have given such a member not less than 7 days notice in writing to appear before the committee and such notice shall inform the member of the complains or allegations against/her. No member shall suffer any disciplinary sanction without first having heard an opportunity of appearing before the committee to answer to the complains or allegations made against him/her and to adduce any evidence in defense thereto, if he/she desires.’ “
The letter went on to point out that, “we have not been served with any complaints or allegations against any of us.
“We are also not aware of any petition written against us,” the exco said in the letter.
“We have served SOKAPU and sacrificed for Southern Kaduna to the best of abilities. Under a purposeful leadership, we raised SOKAPU to global attention and we did a lot to improve the wellbeing of our distress people even without any subvention from anywhere,” reads the letter.
“We therefore, protest and reject our suspension, because we cannot be punished for the failure of Mr Dio Maisamari without being heard.
“In other words, we are being purportedly punished (suspended) before investigation. We reject such kind of suspension,” said the group.
“The formation of the Investigative and Disciplinary committee also goes contrary to section 26(i) of the SOKAPU constitution which reads: ‘There shall be a DISCIPLINARY AND GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE to be constituted by the NEC from among its members and any other member of the union as may deem appropriate on THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE CEC.’
“It is therefore, an abnormality that the same CEC which is supposed to recommend the constitution of the committee was said to have been suspended,” the group noted.
“Sir, the constitution of the Care Taker Committee also comes short of the constitutional provision of SOKAPU.
“According to section 17 (Vi): ‘In the event of the resignation or removal of the entire CEC before the expiration of tenure, the BoT shall in consultation with member association, appoint a caretaker committee in a manner prescribed by this constitution, to handle the affairs of the union for a period not exceeding 3 months, at the end of which a special EC (Electoral Committee) shall be convened for the purpose of electing a new CEC.
“Sir, you can now see that we were supposed to have been investigated first, and if found wanting, assuming the NEC has the powers to remove us, it is only the BoT that has the powers to appoint a care taker committee after due consultation as stipulated by our laws.
“We are therefore, challenging the constitution of the Care Taker Committee as a constitutional violation and illegal usurpation of our duties.
“Mr Chairman sir, we also want to put you on notice that the said CTC has collected all our cheques and bank document and are working towards changing of signatories.
“Sir, let it be made clear that we wholeheartedly support the investigation of our tenure. We believe that it is a proper thing to be done and we are willing to appear before a properly constituted investigation committee in line with the provisions of our Union’s constitution as stated above.
“We the undersigned are pleading for the prompt intervention of the BoT to arrest the drift which SOKAPU is currently facing. We pledge our commitment to the service of SOKAPU and the People of Southern Kaduna.
“Thank you very much as we await your early intervention.”
When approached for confirmation, an insider in SOKAPU said that the aggrieved members may already have started briefing a lawyer in the event that a return to the status quo ante is not achieved and a proper process of investigating them is not done.
“The believe that it is a witch hunt all arranged by Maisamari to square up for the resistance the other exco gave him,” the source added.
Signatories to the letter are”
1. Comrade Elisha Rosy – Vice President 1
2. Mrs Catherine J Amangs – Vice President 2
3. Comrade Pius Saleh Fadia – Assistant General Secretary
4. Mrs Mary Sheyin – Treasurer
5. Anthony Joshua Nicodemus – Assistant Treasurer
6. Luka Binniyat – PRO
7. Miss Teprik Emmanuel – Assistant PRO
8. Tijanni Hassan – Financial Secretary
9. Solomon Haruna – Assistant Financial Secretary
10.Ali Musa – Organising Secretary
11.Joseph Yakubu – Assistant Organising Secretary
12.CMD Kantiok – Auditor
13.Barr. Yakubu Galadima – Legal Adviser