- Confusion over court injunction mar ward congresses
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, and the Senator representing Rivers South East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe, are it each other’s jugular over the violence that heralded the vandalism of the state secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the eve of the party’s ward congresses in Rivers State.
While Amaechi blames Abe’s supporters, the later has stated that the minister was responsible as the party faithful were peaceful until the police invited by the former governor harassed them.
This is as the confusion over a supposedly court order stopping the congresses marred the exercise in the state.
Persons suspected to be members of the youth wing of the party on Friday invaded the state party secretariat at Forces Avenue, Old GRA, Port Harcourt and destroyed the building over what they described as the partisanship of the state executive of the party.
Addressing journalists on the incident, Amaechi accused Abe of being behind the destruction at the party secretariat on Friday.
He also said there was as no court injunction stopping the Ward congresses from holding in the 344 wards across the state.
He insisted the ward congress went on successfully with the adoption of Option A-4 as the voting process.
He further said that Abe wants to run for the governorship of the state on the platform of APC in 2019 without passing through the governorship primaries, saying he never hijacked electoral materials for the ward congress, as alleged by the senator and his supporters.
Amaechi, who is the immediate past Governor of Rivers State, also denied moving about in Port Harcourt with over a platoon of soldiers and more than 200 personnel of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS), as alleged by his successor, Governor Nyesom Wike.
The minister said, “I have not left this house since morning. A lot of people are complaining about internal democracy in the APC. So, why are they running away from internal democracy? Let’s go and queue up behind the candidates we want. As early as 6:00am, saturday, I gathered that thugs had taken over the Rivers State secretariat of APC
“In view of the noise, policemen found it difficult to take action, in spite of their being invited to protect the property by the leadership of Rivers APC.
“The party needed to sell forms to anybody who was interested. What the governorship aspirant (Abe) wanted to do was that there should be no congress. He (Abe) took over the entire secretariat (of Rivers APC) with thugs.
“At 3:00pm, policemen had to force themselves in, to be able to sell forms and for people to be able to purchase forms for saturday’sÂ ward congress.
“If that candidate (Abe) is popular, why didn’t he ask his supporters to buy forms, go and compete at the wards? I am grateful that people bought forms and I hope that his (Abe) supporters also bought forms. By saturday), there will be congress. I do not carry thugs about.
But Abe blamed Amaechi for the sacking of the party secretariat, accusing the minister of steps that are not in accordance with the interest of the party.
His words: “I am amused by some of these allegations and stories that are making the headlines. For the records the disagreement between me and the Minister is political. He is the leader of the party but he has said publicly on several occasions that he can never support me, that means the entire country knows that he cannot pretend to be neutral in any matter in which my interest and the interests of those interested in me are concerned. But as the leader it is his responsibility to provide a level playing field for all of us.
“We are politicians, tomorrow when we need voters, who will those people branded as thugs be? People paid for forms, they had their tellers and no one was telling them what was going on, they besieged the state secretariat for explanations. Rather than the leader to come and address them they brought armed policemen to open fire on innocent party men and women. That is what led to damage at the secretariat. They were there from morning and there was no violence until the police came and opened fire on APC members who were totally peaceful.
Who authourised the shooting and why?”