- Aggrieved leaders call for fresh election
Sunday Okobi with agency report
Violence erupted midway into the primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to elect chairmanship candidates for the July 22 council polls in Lagos State at the weekend, ending the event abruptly.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that some aggrieved party supporters engaged one another in a free-for-all midway into the election, smashing ballot boxes over allegations of imposition of candidates at the election.
Scores of delegates and others present at the Teslim Balogun Stadium venue fled in different directions as a result of the fracas, even as some were injured.
The chairman of the Elections Committee, Tokunbo Afikuyomi, a former senator, was also attacked, and partially stripped by angry supporters who accused him of impartiality as he scampered to safety.
Security officials later forced him out of the grip of the angry youths and whisked him away.
Trouble was believed to have started when some party members in Surulere and Lagos Mainland openly protested against the names of candidates being read out by Afikuyomi for endorsement as consensus candidates.
They alleged that the party leadership was foisting candidates on them and said the decision of the leadership to approve consensus candidates in 18 councils was wrong.
The aggrieved members initially vented their anger through protests, but it later degenerated into fracas between supporters of selected candidates and those who opposed them.
A party faithful, Wale Tokunbo, said shortly before the violence broke out that the substitution of Tajudeen Ajide for the Surulere Local Government Area chairmanship for another candidate was unjust.
â€œThe removal of Ajideâ€™s name for the name of somebody we donâ€™t know is not acceptable to us.
â€œIf we talk about democracy, we should be able to practise it. This primary is a sham; we would resist it,â€ he said.
Another party faithful in Mainland Local Government who pleaded anonymity said party members were surprised at the mention of Yaba Local Government as one of the areas with a consensus candidate at the primary.
He said there were aspirants contesting for the post in the area and that nobody knew of the consensus candidate until they got to the venue.
â€œWhat consensus candidates are they talking about? We are just knowing that Yaba is one of them now. This is wrong,â€ he said.
It was gathered that the names of Toba Oke (Ifako Ijaiye) and Kamal Bashua (Lagos Island East) were among the few candidates out of the 57 endorsed at the primary before violence broke out.
Meanwhile, chieftains and members of the party have called on the state leadership of the party to organise another credible and conclusive primary elections.
They said the so-called election primary was not just an imposition of candidates which is antithetical to the partyâ€™s philosophy and constitution, that the election did not hold in the state as it was disrupted by crisis.
At the APC stakeholdersâ€™ meeting yesterday at Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, the local government areaÂ party Chairman, Alhaji Wahid Adewuni, who spoke on behalf of other party chieftainn, told journalists that the â€œimpositionâ€ of chairmanship candidates by the state Electoral Committee, has brought disarray to the party, therefore, â€œthe members of the party have taken their position that another primaries be held.â€
According to Adewuni, â€œThe primary we intended doing yesterday was inconclusive. Our leaders fixed the date for local government area chairmanship primary election; we prepared and went to the stadium for the election but after screening all of us, passing through the huddles and waiting for the time to cast our vote, Afikuyomi allegedly came with a list and started calling out the names of the council areas that protested which we all know are peaceful, against what we were there for, so we gathered our members and left the venue.
â€œSo in respect for our party ideology,Â we want the party to follow the directive they gave us. We want conclusive primaries it couldnâ€™t hold yesterday because of the crisis from various local government areas.
â€œThis is imposition, and we have all disagreed with that. We donâ€™t want imposition, and our leadership doesnâ€™t impose candidates on the party member. So we want things done according to the rules and regulations of the party, and our demands must be met.â€
The party leader added: â€œWe are asking for justice because we know the rudidiment of politics which is justice. Our national leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, believes and works for justice, so that justice that binds our party together is what we want. We want the people to be given the power and freedom to choose whomever they want to represent them at the council area as chairman. Nobody can impose on us a candidate we donâ€™t want. So we the people of Amuwo Odofin are saying no to imposition.â€