Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The Abia state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) descended deeper into leadership crisis at the weekend when the two factions clashed over the control of the party secretariat leaving some party members seriously wounded.
Pandemonium ensued after the new state executives led by Dr Emmanuel Ndukwe had gone to hold a meeting at the party secretariat along Nnamdi Azikiwe road Umuahia, in move to take full control of the party office. But the meeting ended abruptly following interruption by a police team led by Mr. V.O. Brown, a deputy commissioner of police.
Ndukwe had emerged the Abia chairman APC following the order of an Abia state high court sitting at Okpuala Ngwa, which on March 8, 2018 sacked the state executive committee led by Hon Donatus Nwankpa. The executives were emboldened to take over the party secretariat by the court order which has so far not been set aside by any court of competent jurisdiction.
As Ndukwe and his group came out of the secretariat DCP Brown ordered his men to close the doors of the secretariat and asked Ndukwe to follow him to the police station.
Meanwhile the faction led by Hon Nwankpa was holding its own meeting at the Events Centre located at Isi Court area of the capital city. When they got wind that the rival faction had taken over the party secretariat they suspended their meeting and moving in a convoy, headed for the secretariat.
Hell was let loose when they stormed the secretariat, menacingly searching for the members of the rival faction, who by then had all disappeared.
Party chieftains in the camp supporting Nwankpa were all at the party secretariat wearing angry faces. They included former deputy governor, Dr Chris Akomas, APC governorship candidate in 2015 poll, Chief Chinenye Nyerere Anyim, former Abia House Speaker, Hon Stanley Ohajuruka, DIG Azubuko Udah (rtd), among others.
As he alighted from his vehicle, Nwankpa, who was leading the charge against the opposing faction, drew his belt out of his waist, shouting â€˜where them, where themâ€™ and bulled his way into the secretariat in search of who to lay his belt on. Others were armed with stones and cudgels shouting on top of their voices and pouring invectives on the opposing party members.
Two unfortunate young men from Ndukweâ€™s faction were caught by the rampaging horde was beaten mercilessly and could have been lynched by his captors if not for the intervention of the elders and those who did not allow their anger to overwhelm their reason.
The arrival of the state commissioner of police, Mr. Anthony Ogbizi eventually saved the situation for the captured persons as he ordered his men to take them away.
Ndukwe in justifying his takeover of the party secretariat said his action was legal since it was based on a court order which has not been overturned. He said that the heads of all security agencies in the state were duly informed of the court order and also aware that his executives were taking over control of eh party office.
“The court order of 8th March sacking the former Exco was given to the state commissioner of police, the state director of DSS, the commandant of Civil Defence and other security agencies in the state were given the court order alerting them of our desire to take over the party office,” he said.
Ndukwe accused Nwankpa of flagrant disobedience to rule of law by resisting the takeover of the party office knowing that he has been sacked and ordered to stop parading himself as the chairman of Abia APC.
In his reaction, Nwankpa told journalists that his camp was holding an expanded stakeholders meeting somewhere else when they got information that â€œsome hoodlumsâ€ have taken over their office and had to drive down to the office immediately.
“The office was not opened by those who are authorised to do that and when they saw us they took off. We are yet to ascertain the amount of money and other materials taken away by the hoodlums,” he said.