By Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki
Policemen from the Ebonyi State Police Command Saturday reportedly barred delegates from a faction of the party loyal to a former All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Senator Julius Ucha, from gaining entry to the venue of the state congress.
Ucha’s group however relocated to the APC secretariat to hold its congress where Dr. Sylvester Nwambe emerged as the party’s state chairman of the party.
THISDAY gathered that factional delegates loyal to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, were only allowed inside the venue before the arrival of other delegates.
Security men were at the Nkwegu Ugbala Grand Arena, venue of the Congress which is owned by a member of Ucha’s opposing faction, Edward Nkwegu.
The police also apprehended and whisked away three delegates from the group who tried to gain entry, while other delegates who clustered at the gate were dispersed with teargas and sporadic shooting on the air by the police.
Journalists who tried to enter the venue were also turned back by the police.
This development, THISDAY gathered, was anticipated following the crises that had engulfed the state party’s congresses at the wards and local government levels where both factions had conducted parallel congresses in the state.
A chieftain of the party confided in THISDAY that the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, colluded with Onu’s group and allegedly doctored the delegates’ list which police and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) worked on.
He stressed that security agencies only acted on the instructions allegedly given to them by the national chairman that any unknown delegates not on the list should not be allowed into the venue.
“The fault was not from the police. It was the scripts of Oyegun that they acted. It was rather Oyegun who colluded with Onu and his group to doctor the lists of genuine delegates and disenfranchise them. A list was sent to the police and INEC by the national chairman which they worked to disrupt authentic delegates from voting.
“We relocated to our party office to conduct our congress. We have result sheets and other congress materials to use,” he said.
“Chief Sylvester Nwambe emerged as the Ebonyi State chairman of APC,” he said.
Another source said that delegates from Ucha’s faction were accredited before heading to the venue, only to be barred at the gate by policemen.
He said: “Our delegates were not allowed inside the venue by the police. They were teargassed and whisked away inside their Hilux vans. The venue is a private property of a member of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu’s faction. So he was the one that chooses who enters with the connivance of the police.
“We had raised the alarm that the choice of the venue negates the electoral Acts but officials of INEC in the state colluded with the choice of the venue. Our delegates are not allowed to participate. We don’t want to cause troubles. That’s why we will go to an open venue and conduct our congress that will give all contestants and voters the right to exercise their franchise.”
However, the delegates and contestants have relocated to the APC secretariat along the Abakaliki-Enugu expressway to conduct a parallel congress.