Monday 7 May 2018

APC Crises Fester: One killed; Oyegun, Dogara, Kwankwaso Boycott Ward Congresses

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THE crises ravaging the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, deepened at the weekend as the nationwide ward congresses ended on a mixed note.
The party’s governorship primary in Ekiti State ended in chaos after thugs destroyed election materials and loyal to some aspirants for the ticket of the party ahead of the July election in the state disagreed.
Some notable APC leaders, such as the embattled National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, boycotted the ward congresses in Edo; so also were Speaker Yakubu Dogara in Bauchi and Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso in Kano, whose loyalists held  parallel congresses.
While the ward congresses were peaceful in a couple of states such as Edo, Bayelsa, Taraba, Kwara, and Katsina, among others, it was not so in Akwa Ibom, Oyo, Rivers, and Delta where violence and aparthy marred the exercise.
In Delta, one of the party’s ward chairmanship aspirants, Mr. Jeremiah Oghoveta, in Ward 10, Otu-Jeremi, Ughelli South Local Government Area, was stabbed to death during the violence that trailed the congress.
In Akwa Ibom, no fewer than 10 persons, including the Etim Ekpo Local Government Chairman of the APC, Mr. Iniobong Akan, were beaten up by aggrieved youths.
The  youths allegedly blocked the gates of the state secretariat, along Atiku Abubakar Avenue, where the exercise held, preventing party members from entering the premises. However, the congress  proceeded after the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Senate Matters and leader of the APC in Akwa Ibom State, Senator Ita Enang, met with the aggrieved members.
In Rivers, APC chieftains, continued to accuse one another of sponsoring the youths who  invaded  the state secretariat of the party in Port Harcourt on eve of the Ward Congress.
While feuding Rivers APC Leader and Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, and 2019 governorship aspirant, Senator Magnus Abe, accused each other of masterminding the violence, another chieftain of the party, Duke Alamboye Kirchner, indicated that the incident was instigated by non-APC forces.
There were parallel congresses in Imo State where the Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, and Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu, escaped attacks from thugs at the APC  secretariat following the confusion and angst that hallmarked the parallel congresses in the state.
President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo took part in the congresses. While  Osinbajo attended the exercise in Agungi in  Eti-Osa LGA of Lagos State, where he was received by party leaders, Buhari participated in the congress in his Sarkin Yara A Ward, Daura in Katsina State, where he urged elected ward executives to discharge their responsibilities with fear of God and in accordance with the party’s constitution.
Be diligent, decent, decorous, Buhari urges ward excos
Buhari, who spoke  after participating in the APC Ward Congress in his constituency, said throughout his political career, he had been a loyal party member who respected the rules and the regulations, assuring that his administration  was determined to uphold the provisions of the constitution and the rule of law.
Stressing the need to play politics with decency and decorum, he said: “I call on you to fear God in whatever you do as we would transit to the next world and account for our deeds before our creator.”
Chairmanship candidate killed
Jeremiah Jacob Ogboveta, the APC chairmanship candidate in Jeremi Ward 3/10, Ughelli South Local Government Area, Delta State, was  stabbed  in the violence that broke out during the exercise in the area.
Confirming the incident, the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Andrew Aniamaka said: “At about12:30pm, one Jeremiah Jacob was stabbed to death by a member of the APC (names withheld) who is currently on the run.
“Though there are no details for now, we know that the suspect immediately fled after the incident and efforts are currently on to apprehend him.”
Meanwhile, Board of Trustees, BoT, member of the APC, Chief Frank Kokori, said the congress went smoothly in his Ovu Ward 5, Ethiope East local government area.
Parallel congresses in Imo
Parallel congresses were held in various wards of the 27 local council areas of Imo State.
In Azuzii Ward 2, Owerri Municipal, while loyalists of Governor Rochas Okorocha held their congress in Emmanuel College premises, officials  of the party moved theirs to Umuodu village.
Some APC members, suspected to be Okorocha loyalists, clustered at the state Police Headquarters, chanting war songs and clamouring for the cancellation of the ward congresses in the 305 wards of Imo.
Speaking to Sunday Vanguard in a telephone interview, the state Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Nwabueze Oguchienti, said that the parallel congresses were not unexpected.
“The party saw  as it coming. We are aware that those loyal to the governor are responsible for the parallel congress. I must tell you that those who engaged in the shameful act are not party loyalists”, Oguchienti said.
The state Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, escaped attack from thugs at the state secretariat as Okorocha’s son-in-law, Mr Uche Nwosu, said that there was a swap of congress committee that was supposed to conduct the exercise.
Among those who escaped the attack were Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu,  a  former Secretary to the State Government, Mr Jude Ejiogu and others.
Sunday Vanguard was told that Madumere and others were at the APC  state Secretariat as part of the preparation for the party’s congress.
But with the intervention of the security agencies, a peaceful atmosphere was restored.
It was claimed that the congress committee that was supposed to conduct congress in the state  were moved to Anambra State.
Nwosu, who briefly spoke at the state Police Command, said: We are trying to sort out some issues. There was a swap. The people that were supposed to conduct the congress in Imo were moved to Anambra and  Anambra people moved to Imo. And we want them to properly hand over.”
Odigie-Oyegun absent as Edo hold peaceful congresses
The congresses were  peaceful across the 192 wards of Edo after the state harmonized the list of aspirants  to avoid a rancorous exercise.
However, there was tension in Egor Local Government Area  as  it was alleged that the council chairperson, Eghe Ogbemudia, held a parallel congress after the leaders of the council including former Deputy Governor of the state, Lucky Imasuen, and the leader of the party in the council, Crosby Eribo, had  agreed on the list of ward executives.
Party  members adopted the consensus method through affirmation and the exercise started at about 10am to elect the ward chairmen, secretaries, treasurer and other party executives at that level across the state.
At Ikpoba Okha, home town of the Secretary to Edo state Government, Osarodion Ogie, and the member representing Ikpoba Okhai/ Egor Federal Constituency, Mr Johnson Agbonayinma, the leaders described the exercise as ¨very peaceful and orderly and we hope those we have elected will ensure the progress of the party at that level”. They added: “We are very optimistic as we head towards 2019¨.
Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu  said: ¨Edo is a role model and we are very organized and peaceful. Our eyes are all on the ball and it is that spirit that is pushing all of us. We did it under peaceful theatmospheree, it is a family meeting to choose one of us. We came out in that spirit of a family and had a family meeting and it worked out as a family under the able leadership of Mr Governor and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
And that is why we want Comrade to go and replicate what we have in Edo state to other parts of the country as national chairman of the APC.  We have leaders in the person of Governor Obaseki and Comrade Oshiomhole and that is the secret of the peaceful congresses we are having.”
Odigie-Oyegun’s absence
In Ward 2 Oredo, the Local Government Area of the National Chairman of the APC,  Odigie-Oyegun, the APC boss was conspicuously absent in the exercise which was conducted by the Minister of State, Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, and monitored by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon, Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on National Assembly Matters and former Chief of Staff to the immediate past governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who participated in the process at  Ward 3 (Oredo council), said “We have long finished; the exercise went on peacefully and we adopted the consensus option, except in some areas where the process was contentious and they adopted full contest.”
Chairman of the party in the state, Anselm Ojezua, described the exercise as peaceful and ¨ very democratic.
Amaechi, Abe, others trade blames over secretariat invasion
Speaking on the invasion of the party secretariat in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, on Friday evening, Amaechi said: “What a  governorship aspirant wants to do is that there should not be any congress. He took over the party secretariat with his loyalists  till about 3pm that the police had to force themselves in for people to purchase forms for tomorrow’s congress”
The Transport Minister, apparently referring to  Senator Magnus Abe, the only aspirant to have declared his governorship ambition  under Rivers APC, added: “If that aspirant is popular, why not tell his  supporters to go and purchase that form and go and contest the congress? I am grateful that people bought forms and I hope his supporters also bought  forms, because tomorrow, ward congresses will hold.
“They say police were there when the offices of the APC were destroyed. It is not true there were policemen sent anywhere, rather it was the police that were invited by the party for protection of the party secretariat and to disperse the people brought to disrupt the purchase of forms”.
Responding on the allegation,  Abe said: “It is Amaechi that is afraid of election. That is why he is causing problems. I did not mobilise thugs to Rivers State secretariat of APC. The people at APC’s secretariat were Amaechi’s miscreants. I am a man of integrity”.
The senator  called on President Buhari and other leaders of APC to ensure free, fair and credible congresses in the party.
Parallel congress in Kano
Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso  and his supporters held  parallel ward  congresses  across Kano State.
Media  aide to the senator, Hajiya Binta Spikin, told Sunday Vanguard that the group had purchased forms in line with the directives of the national leadership of the party and subsequently conducted it’s ward congress.
The development followed a similar congress conducted by the mainstream All Progressives Congress (APC) across the 484 wards   of the 44 local government area of the state that led to the emergence of 1188 delegates.
Acting Chairman of APC in Kano, Engr. Bashir Yahaya Karaye, told journalists at the party secretariat that the exercise monitored by national officer was free and fair .
No imposition of candidates in Katsina – C’ttee Chair
Chairman, Ward Congress Committee in Katsina State and the Deputy National Treasurer of the APC, Mohammed Tanko Zakari, said  no candidate was imposed in the state adding that all candidates in the 361 wards across the 34 local government areas were given a level-playing ground and in areas “where there are no contest, we had the permission of the national headquarters to conduct our congress via consensus”.
Peaceful conduct in Bayelsa
A  former governor of Bayelsa State and leader of the APC in the state, Chief Timipre Sylva, commended party faithful for their peaceful conduct during the ward congresses in the state.
Sylva, who stated this during a brief interaction with newsmen in Yenagoa, said the party in the state has disappointed many who had hoped that the congresses would be marred by violence.
Taraba’s peaceful – Alhassan
Stakeholders of  the APC in Taraba State hailed the conduct of the congresses.
The Minister of Women and Social Development, Senator Aisha Alhassan, said the distribution of election materials to various wards was timely well conducted and in accordance with the guidelines of the party.
Peaceful conduct of ward congresses, a demonstration of belief in democracy – Tinubu, Ambode
National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, have commended the peaceful conduct of the party’s ward congresses held yesterday, across Lagos State and other states.
Tinubu and Ambode spoke with new newsmen while participating at the APC Ward Congress at St. Peters Primary School, Alausa, Ikeja, Ward A6 in Luyepo Primary School, Papa-Epe in Epe Local Government Area,respectfull y, held across, the 337 wards in the state.
Tinubu said: “I am very happy and proud of our party, APC. We are demonstrating to the people across the country that we are a law-abiding political party; that we believe in the tenets of democracy and that we demonstrate the openness in the congresses across the country, particularly, I can speak emphatically on Lagos. Things are going according to plan, very open and transparent process. They queue up behind whoever they want, no pre-ordained candidate.”
No preferred candidate in Ekiti
On whether he has any anointed candidate in Ekiti APC primary election, Tinubu said: “I believe those in charge of the primary election in Ekiti will do the right thing. I have put my own political gear in neutral. I have no anointed candidate. Everyone there aspiring and contesting are very dear members and they deserve the right to participate.”
Amosun’s loyalists re – elected wards chairmen in Ogun
Loyalists of Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun who were elected in 2014, were unanimously returned unopposed as elected chairmen in the 236 wards of the state.
All Progressives Congress (APC) ward congresses held in the 236 wards across Ogun State .
Sunday Vanguard learned that Governor Ibikunle Amosun had directed that where there is consensus among party leaders about candidates seeking election into party executive offices, the affected candidates should be returned in a unanimous decision instead of resorting to time -consuming voting process.
The Ward Congress Committee Chairman, Alhaji Bashir Sheriff, who coordinated the exercise expressed satisfaction with the outcome.
Controversy in Kaduna
The ward congresses were mirred in controversy in Kaduns  as the absence of party officials and unilateral conduct of ward elections by non party officials held sway.
Sunday Vanguard’s checks indicated that election did not take place in I2 wards in Igabi. The wards are Kwarau, Turunku, igabi, Fanshanu, Gwaraji, Zango Aya,  Afaka, Kirawa, Birnin Yero, Rigassa, Sabon Birnin.
Some supporters of Senators Shehu Sani and Othman Hunkuyi alleged that party officials were quarantined in government house to do the bidding of government officials.
But the Senior Special Assistant to governor Nasir El-rufai on Media a d Publicuty, Mr. Samuel Aruwan dismissed the allegation, saying that, “Government Gouse is government house, not polling unit” insisting ward congresses were held in designated centres adding that “I just voted at my ward.”
It was gathered that Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi led APC group held a parallel election, declaring all their candidates unopposed in Malali, Ungwan Rimi, Chikun, Sabo, and Narayi, among other wards in the state.
C’RIVER: APC stakeholders reject congress committee
Cross River APC stakeholders rejected the Ward Congress committee which it accused of hijacking the materials.
Stakeholders who rejected the committee included Senator John Owan Enoh representing Southern Senatorial District, Special Assistant to President on Prosecution, Bar Obono Obla, Senator John Owan, South-South Vice Chairman, Hon Hillard Etta, Deputy Chairman, John Ochalla, Vice Chairman, Central, Hon Cletus Obun, Secretary of the party, Victor Ebong, and other party officials met at the party secretariat about 4:00pm yesterday and passed a vote of no confidence on the panel, ordering them to go back to Abuja because it did not want to conduct a free and fair election.
Parallel exercise in Enugu
Chieftains of the APC, in Enugu State, yesterday, hailed the peaceful and hitch-free conduct of ward congresses of the party in the 260 political wards of the state. Those who hailed  the exercise included former governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo and former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani.
However, there were parallel congresses in most of the areas monitored by newsmen.
At Eke Ward in Udi local government area, the parallel congresses were peaceful, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama leading the majority, while the Director General of Voice of Nigeria, VON, Mr. Osita Okechukwu led the parallel faction.
In most of the wards elections were based on consensus while in others, they were unable to reach compromise, even as Option A4 type of open balloting was adopted for the polls.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Onyeama who spoke to newsmen, described the congress as peaceful and transparent just as he remarked that the process as the national congress officials from Abuja absconded with electoral materials.
Bloody clash in Oyo
The Deputy Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly Abdulwasi Musah, two members of a committee set up by the national secretariat of the APC and others were yesterday injured when a bloody clash erupted at the party’s state secretariat at Oke Ado, Ibadan.
A member of the APC committee reportedly fainted during the crisis but was later revived.
The crisis started during the preparation for the conduct of the party’s ward congress.
While the crisis lasted, dangerous weapons like bottles were freely used as supporters of the Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and the Minister of Communication, Mr Adebayo Shittu clashed.
There has been cold war between the governor and the minister over who controls the party.
It took prompt intervention of heavily armed security agencies to prevent the crisis from escalating.
Expectedly, there were accusations and counter accusations on which of the factions that triggered the quarrel.
According to information gathered, supporters of Adebayo Shitu and some aggrieved party members who had been seated at the venue were reportedly forced to vacate their seats. This led to some rowdy situation.
Shortly after, dangerous weapons were flying in the air and sporadic gunshots rent the atmosphere.
After some time, the committee later succeeded in bringing all the factions together and after consultation with them, it was resolved that the ward congress be postponed to today.
Congresses hitch-free,  Appeal Panels Report in states Monday – APC
Meanwhile, the National hierarchy of the APC, yesterday said the ward congresses were hitch-free but in line with its guidelines, its appeal committees would report in all the states tomorrow.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi who disclosed this to Sunday Vanguard also said the exercise in Adamawa State was postponed because the state did not get the forms on time.
Speaking on the exercise, he said: “Generally, everything went on fine. We did not have a situation or any report from any part of the country that there was a problem. Where any of our guidelines have been infringed on, the aggrieved candidate would send a petition to the appeal committee in that state, because we cannot be everywhere.
The committees will report in the states on Monday. It is the appeal committees that would now sit on the petitions and submit their findings or recommendations to the National Working Committee NWC”, he said.

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