By Hammed Shittu
Violence yesterday marred the stakeholders’ meeting convened by the All Progressives Congress (APC) membership registration and revalidation committee sent from the national headquarters of the party to keep party members abreast of the exercise in Kwara State.
The meeting was held at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Ilorin, before it turned violent by the supporters of Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and that of the state Governor, Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
The two camps have been at each other throats for the past few months now over the control of the party in the state.
The national secretariat of the party recently issued a letter of appointment to the state Deputy Chairman of the party, Alhaji Samari Abdullahi, to be the acting chairman of the party in the state.
The development which sparked off crisis as the incumbent Chairman, Hon. Bashr Omolaja Bolarinwa, resisted the move, as he said there was no issuance of query that could have warranted his purported removal from office as the state chairman of the party.
Alhaji Samari Abdullahi is a choice of the state governor, while Bolarinwa is also a choice of Lai Mohammed. This scenario has caused the factionalisation of the party in the state.
However, yesterday, at the stakeholders meeting called by the committee from the national secretariat that would conduct the membership registration exercise slated for February 9, the meeting was abruptly ended due to the violence that erupted.
The development, according to THISDAY checks, might not be unconnected with the move by the two camps to take control of the meeting.
It was gathered that members of the two camps were trooping into the venue of the meeting without any hindrance until the issue of identification ensued at the main entrance of the hall that led to the crisis.
THISDAY checks further revealed that some of the supporters were said to have been denied entrance due to their allegiance to one group or the other into the hall of the meeting.It was further learnt that this was the situation until the venue turned rowdy which led many people to run for safety.
Some of the chieftains of the party were said to have sustained injuries while the windscreen of the cars belonging to some of the chieftains of the party were allegedly damaged.
The development also led to the throwing of stones and chairs, as the main hall of the meeting was turned into a theatre of war by the two supporters camps of the party.
Chairman of the membership registration and revalidation screening committee, Senator John Danboyi, and other members of the committee were forced to flee the venue in the ensuing melee for fear of being attacked by irate supporters.
Meanwhile, the state the Governor, AbdulRazaq, has flagged off the APC membership registration and revalidation exercise at his Idigba polling unit in Adewole Ward of Ilorin West Local Government Area of the state.
The governor, who revalidated his membership of the party at his Idi Igba ward in the presence of the seven-man committee assigned by the national leadership of the party to conduct the exercise, said there is need to expand the base of the party in the state with the exercise.
Abdulrazaq said the exercise is important as the party is growing due to quality performance of APC state governments across the country, adding that there is need to register non-APC members who voted for the party, who are now convinced to join the fold.
Also speaking during a courtesy call to the governor, leader of the seven man registration and revalidation committee, Danboi, said the exercise is being carried out nationwide, adding that there is need to register new members of the party and revalidate old members.
Danboi, who said the committee has set up a stakeholder committee to facilitate smooth operations, added that invitation had been sent across every sphere of the party in the state, saying the exercise is open to all.