- Partyâ€™s crisis in Rivers deepens, leaders call for cancellation of poll
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has condemned cases of violence at its state congresses held last Saturday to elect delegates for the planned national non-elective convention.
The party also said it would investigate the reported cases and take necessary action in line with the partyâ€™s constitution against whoever is found culpable.
In a statement issued thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi, the party said it finds cases of violence in Rivers and Kaduna States quite disturbing.
The statement read: â€œWhile noting that most of the state congresses were peaceful and conducted in compliance with guidelines and directives given by the party to the appointed congress committees, the APC finds cases of violence in Rivers and Kaduna States quite disturbing.
â€œThe party equally regrets and condemns the attack on the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretariat in Kaduna which resulted in injuries on two journalists.
â€œThe party will investigate the reported cases and take necessary action in line with the partyâ€™s constitution against whoever is found culpable.
However, the party commended all the states whose exercise went peacefully, promising that where grievances have been reported, the party shall examine such cases and address them accordingly.
Meanwhile, the crisis rocking the Rivers State chapter of the party has deepened with notable leaders of the party calling for the cancellation of last Saturdayâ€™s non-elective congress of the party in the state.
This is as the appeal panel set up by the party called on all stakeholders to be patient while the (NWC) National Working Committee of the party takes steps to address the issues of concern.
The state chapter of the APC has been in turmoil since last Saturday as major stakeholders accuse Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, of writing results to ensure that Senator Magnus Abe, who is nursing a gubernatorial ambition, does not have a foothold in the partyâ€™s list of delegates to the national convention.
The state Deputy Chairman of the party, Chief Peter Dike, and the Legal Adviser of the party, Chieme Chienweikpe, have jointly called for the total cancellation of the local government congress that was purportedly held in the 23 local government areas on July 29.
Dike declared that no election took place in any of 23 local government area of the State. He pointed out that in his position, he is capable of saying what actually took place.
â€œThe purported congress never held in any of the 23 local government Areas. There was no time the state working committee of the party held a formal meeting to discuss the holding of local government congress in the state.
â€œThe flagrant imposition of delegates has severely divided the party. We in the APC left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in protest against impunity and lack of internal democracy. There was nothing to show that election took place in any local government areas in the state,â€ he said.
The deputy chairman spoke while addressing the National Appeal Committee which visited Rivers State to ascertain if the local government congress actually held in the 23 local government areas last Saturday.
In his presentation, Chienweikpe stated that there was no time that the state working committee met to deliberate on the congress.
He insisted: â€œAs the legal adviser of the party in Rivers State, I can affirm that no local government congress took place in the state. So, the names of those being released to the media are fake designed to give credence to an election that never took place.â€
Former State Commissioner for Labour in the last administration, Dr. Ipalibo Harry, also said the local government congress did not hold because the Minister of Transportation, Amaechi, allegedly wants to hijack the party.
He declared: â€œThe cause of the crisis in the party is because the Minister of Transportation does not want Senator Magnus Abe to be governor of Rivers State.
â€œLet me say it now that representatives of the national leadership are here: any attempt to deprive Senator Abe from contesting for the partyâ€™s ticket for the 2019 governorship election will decimate the party in Rivers State.â€
Former State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Worgu Boms, said something must be wrong with the party leadership if in his capacity, he did not know anything about local congress in the state.
â€œSome people came from Abuja and checked into a hotel for two days. I was informed by a reliable source that all the voting materials were locked up at Amaechiâ€™s residence in Abuja,â€ he said.
He asked: â€œIf the electoral materials were locked up at Amaechiâ€™s residence at Abuja, then what materials did they use to conduct the purported election?â€
A member of the House of Representatives, Barry Mpigi, told the appeal committee that no federal legislator was informed of the purported local government congress.
â€œThe problem is because Senator Abe wants to be governor of Rivers State on the platform of the APC. Amaechi says Abe cannot be governor in APC. Why then is Amaechi unprepared to place the contest on who is most preferred by the people to a free, fair and credibly electoral contest?â€ He queried.
Also, the member representing Ikwerre/ Emohua constituency in the House of Representatives, Elder Chidi Wihioka, called for outright cancellation of the result from what he dubbed a fake congress, insisting that no congress held last Saturday in any ward of the party in the 23 local government areas of the state.
â€œOur position is that there was no congress, no election held in any part of the state. Whatever result was released as coming from the congress should be cancelled and a fresh congress slated,â€ Wihioka said
Reacting to the barrage of complaints, the three-man Appeal committee of the APC assured members of the party dissatisfied with the last local government congress of the party in Rivers state that their grievances would be communicated to the appropriate level of the party for action.
Alhaji Ibrahim Muhammed, who spoke for the committee yesterday at the state secretariat of the APC in Port Harcourt, said they had taken time to listen to the appeals of the aggrieved members of the party.
The committee also had a brother of late President Umaru Yar Adua, Alhaji Yar Adua Abdulazis. The Chairman of the committee, Kola Omonitukpo was absent.