By John Shiklam in Kaduna
The crisis ravaging the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna State took a different dimension yesterday when Senator Othman Suleiman Hunkuyi and Senator Shehu Sani among other prominent members of the party narrowly escaped being lynched by armed thugs at the secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Kaduna.
However, a cameraman with a private radio and television station, Liberty Radio and Television, was seriously injured while their camera was destroyed.
Several mobile phones and recorders belonging to journalists were destroyed by the thugs who invaded the conference hall.
The hoodlums also smashed the windscreen of a car belonging to the state Chairman of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr. Mordecai Ibrahim, which was parked in the premises.
Hunkuyi, Sani and other top members of the APC faction in the state were at the NUJ Press Centre to address a press conference on the outcome of the recent election of delegates to APC National Convention when hundreds of armed thugs alleged to be loyal to the Special Adviser to Governor Nasir El-Rufai on Politics, Mallam Uba Sani, invaded the press centre and unleashed terror on the politicians and journalists.
The thugs had stormed the NUJ press centre after they got wind of the press conference by the APC faction.
They were initially restricted to the gate by the police, however, they later overpowered the police as more of them trooped to the area and forced the gate opened.
Attempts by the police to disperse them with teargas did not yield any results.
The Gabasawa Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Abdullahi, who later arrived at the premises, allegedly led some thugs into the conference hall where the press conference was going on.
Upon gaining access to the conference hall, with knives and sticks they wielded, everybody in the hall scampered for safety while the thugs destroyed mobile phones, recorders and the Liberty television camera.
The senators were however whisked away as journalists rallied round to defend themselves from the attack.
The state Commissioner of Police, Abah Agyole, later visited the NUJ secretariat and assured them that the incident would be investigated.
Senator Hunkuyi who addressed the conference alleged that the there was no election of delegates to the National Convention of the APC, adding thatÂ the names of those who emerged as delegates were written by an official of the state government.
â€œThe list of the delegates was not known to us. The list was fake, so we wrote two petitions to the National Secretariat of the APC and the zonal office to buttress our grievances.
â€œWe hope the national body would look into our complaints and fixed another date,â€ Hunkuyi said.
Before the press conference by Hunkuyi and his group, the leadership of the party had also addressed journalists at its secretariat, insisting that the delegate elections followed due process and that it was free, credible and fair.
The state Publicity Secretary of the party,Â Salisu Tanko Wusono, said the delegate election was attendedÂ by all the party officials from ward level to the state level.
He said five officials from the national secretariat of the APC came to supervise the stateÂ election, arguing that â€œwe acted within the partyâ€™s guidelines as no party member was sidelined.
Meanwhile, El-Rufai has condemned the mob action at NUJ secretariat.
In a statement by his spokesman, Samuel Aruwan, the governor saidÂ nobody would be allowed to stifle freedom of expression.
â€œHaving been briefed on the situation, the governor expressed sympathy with the NUJ and the persons that were harassed by the hoodlums.
â€œThe governor directed that security agencies should investigate and take necessary action against the hoodlums.â€