Amaechi, Abe camps clash in Rivers

Tony John, Port Harcourt

There was confusion in most of the 23 local government areas of Rivers State as the All Progressives Congress (APC) ward congress that was scheduled to commence yesterday, at 9am.

Various groups of APC members loyal to Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, a gubernatorial candidate, under the aegis of Coalition of Concerned Citizens of Rivers APC, began protesting as early as 8am.

The protesters decried what they described as “an attempt to deliberately sideline Senator Abe’s supporters from the ward congress.”
Also, the group staged a peaceful protest about 200 metres from an Intels facility at Eastern Bypass, where the Minister of

Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, was alleged to have stored the electoral materials for the ward congress.
It was further gathered that the members of the group protested against the inability of Abe’s supporters, who paid for forms but could not get the nomination forms.

While Abe’s supporters were protesting the process leading to the ward congress, supporters of Amaechi, it was alleged, defied the court order secured by Abe’s loyalists, on the eve of the ward congress, and decided to go ahead with the election.
The confusion was further heightened when Amaechi declared on radio, yesterday morning, that there were no electoral materials as the process would be determined by Option A4.

He was quoted as saying: “No materials are needed for the ward congress. We are using Option A4, whereby people will queue behind a candidate of their choice. Anyone, who says he is popular should be able to show it during the ward congress.”
However, the electoral materials for the ward congress arrived late in virtually all the centres visited. The electoral officers were yet to arrive with the materials as at 11.55am, in Ward 4, in Port Harcourt Local Government Area and around Baptist School in the metropolis.
Two operational Toyota Hilux vehicles were seen parked very close to the polling unit at Ward 4. At Ward 11, in Port Harcourt Local Government Area, the materials arrived at 12.30pm.

Sunday Sun noted that the ward executive was dissolved at 2pm, while voting commenced at 2.20pm.
Chairman of Ward 11, Daniel Chinda, who spoke on the development, said he was re-contesting for the position of chairman.
He stated that the ward executive was not aware of any court injunction restraining the party from conducting the ward congress.
The St. Andrew’s Model Primary School, at Diobu, Mile 1, by Emenike Junction, comprising wards 12, 13 and 14 was locked. No APC official, party members, electoral officials and materials were seen in the premises of the primary school.
Checks showed that no ward congress took place at Ward 2, in Tai Local Government Area. The Publicity Secretary of the ward, Prince Young, said no voting took place. He added that no official from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was seen in Tai up to noon.

As at 2.30pm, most polling units in the wards at Obio-Akpor Local Government Area were empty.
However, in a few wards that had electoral materials, voters queued up waiting patiently for the exercise to proceed.

Abia chapter extends congress to today

Chuks Onuoha, Umuahia.

The ward congress election of the Abia State chapter of the party, which commenced yesterday, will be completed today.
The State Chairman, Mr. Donatus Nwankpa, who addressed newsmen said that it became necessary to extend the election.
He said that the party leaders in the state and congress committee met earlier yesterday to resolve some issues in the party to ensure a free, fair and credible congress.

His words: “We had a little tension in the party earlier. So we thought there was need for us to address areas of grievances and areas that would bring possible break down of law and order, because of what is happening in the congress held in other states.

“APC is a ruling party and there are a lot of conflicting interests in the party, so what has taken place today (yesterday) is an arrangement for a hitch free congress.”

He explained that no harmonization had taken place between the two factions in the state chapter of the party, adding, “what APC has called for is congress and harmonization.”

He spoke further: “The Congress has started in some wards and we have charged them to follow the party laid down principles of carrying of carrying all members of the party along in the process.

“I want to clear the air that this congress is not under any legal impediment, because the congress committee is part of the litigation in the state chapter of the party.

“The congress is not being organized by the state excos that was taken to court and the congress committee is not part of the case in court. What is in contention is the past congress that was held in the state, which will expire any moment from now. What we are building is a new house and nobody can say the congress ran against the law.”
Abia State chapter of the party has been enmeshed in crisis following a court order restraining Nwankpa as APC chairman in the state through a suit filed in the court by Dr. Emmanuel Ndukwe and Barrister Fabian Nwankwo.
In yesterday’s congress process, both Nwankpa and Ndukwe introduced themselves as state chairmen of the party, bringing to the fore that the party in the state might have been factionalized.

Violence mars Ondo congress

Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure

The ward congress of the All Progressives Congress held in all the 203 wards in Ondo State was yesterday marred by violence and clash in many of the polling centres.

Pockets of trouble were reported in Akure South, Akoko South West, Akoko South East, Akoko North East and some other local government areas in the state.

It was alleged that the intention of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to ensure that his loyalists won at the congress caused the crisis in many of the wards where crises were reported.

In many of the wards in Ondo North senatorial district it was learnt that the superiority tussle between Governor Akeredolu and the senator representing the district, Prof. Ajayi Borroffice played out.

It was gathered that many of the accredited delegates in Akoko North East Local Government Area engaged in free for all fight before peace was restored at the polling centres after the intervention of security agents.

The member representing Akure federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Ayo Olowookere, who confirmed that there were pockets of trouble in many of the wards he visited, attributed the crisis to the alleged intention of the governor to control the party structure.

He said the leadership of the APC at the federal level needs to intervene in the matter before the next governorship election to avoid going to election with a divided house.

Crisis was also reported to have occurred in many of the wards in Odigbo Local Government Area of the state, but was swiftly resolved by party leaders.

Delegates for the congress had arrived most of the venues of the congress as early as 7:30am, while verification and election began at 10.00am.

Although in some venues the exercise did not commence until few minutes after 10am due to late arrival of party members.

However, the party’s director of publicity, Mr Steve Otaloro said “the exercise went well but with some disagreements in a few venues but the issues were resolved immediately.”

Confusion mars exercise in Nnewi

David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi

Up to 5:30pm, yesterday, it was still uncertain whether the ward congress election of the Nnewi North Local Government Area of the All Progressives Congress (APC) would hold or not as members were seen pacing up and down at Anaedo Social Club of Nigeria premises, venue for the congress.

Some moments later, former state chairman of the Contact and Mobilization for the party, Mr Dozie Ikedife, Jnr, arrived to tell the members that the congress had been postponed in the whole of Anambra due to what he called clerical errors.
Ikedife said the party officials sent to conduct the congress in Anambra were to swap with those going to Imo State, an arrangement that could not be finished in time.

He said the list of participants was to be harmonised to ensure a transparent ward congress in the council area.
Ikedife also said that the party had made a provision for representation of the physically challenged in the local government party executive.

However, another faction of APC members in the council area, yesterday, gathered at the council party secretariat later in the evening and insisted that they were holding their ward congress.

Kaduna ward congress peaceful –el-Rufai

•No election in several wards

Noah Ebije, Kaduna.

Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai has described ward congress election held in the state yesterday as peaceful.
This was even as some officials of the All Progessives Congress (APC) were nowhere to be found to conduct the election in many wards visited. It was alleged that officials of the party were kept in government house.

Election did not take place in I2 wards in Igabi. The wards are Kwarau, Turunku, igabi, Fanshanu, Gwaraji, Zango Aya, Afaka, Kirawa, Birnin Yero, Rigassa, Sabon Birnin.

Also, in Ikulu ward of Zango Kataf Local Government Area, APC chieftain told Sunday Sun that there was no need for election because it had been agreed to retain the old exco.

However, in an interview with Sunday Sun, Governor Nasiru El-Rufai dismissed the claim that party officials assigned to conduct the congress election were kept in government house as baseless allegation.

His words: “I am all alone with my wife in government house, and I just returned from my ward in Ungwan Sarki, the election was peaceful and orderly there, and so it is across the state. There is only one APC in Kaduna State, duly recognised by the national body of the party.”

However, the faction led by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi held their own election, declaring all their candidates unopposed.
Hunkuyi group held elections in Malali, Ungwan Rimi, Chikun, Sabo, Narayi, among other wards in the state.

Power play mars Imo congress

•As electoral materials disappear

George Onyejiuwa and Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri

The Imo State All Progressives Congress (APC) ward congress election held yesterday was marred by a supremacy battle between the state government and some stakeholders of the party as well as some of its aspirants who allegedly ganged up against Governor Rochas Okorocha.

Sunday Sun gathered that as early as 8 am, Governor Okorocha engaged stakeholders of the party in a tense meeting at the government house, but the members of the Imo APC Restoration Coalition which is against the endorsement of Uche Nwosu as flag bearer of the party for the 2019 governorship election were conspicuously absent.

The coalition party members were also seriously engaged in a separate meeting as some of the ward chairmen waited patiently at the state party secretariat for a briefing by the exco members of the party on modalities for the congress.

However, when members of the coalition raised the alarm over an alleged impostor planted by the state government as the State Congress Committee Secretary, the State Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, immediately summoned all the aspirants and stakeholders of the party to his office where they remained in a close door meeting for several hours.

According to Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu, National Convention Committee Secretary of the party, who briefed journalists shortly after their meeting with the CP, said that the state governor who he alleged planted the impostor, created the confusion.
Uwajumogu said: “How can they give us somebody and say he is the secretary, he claimed to have a letter dated May, 1, who will issue a letter on a public holiday?”

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He also noted that the governor called for a swap of the committee members brought to conduct the election following his lack of confidence in the team. According to him, the delay in the takeoff of the congress was the governor’s insistence on swapping the Congress Committee from Anambra to Imo.

National publicity secretary of the party senator Osita Izunaso and other stakeholders of the party present at the meeting consented to the swap as well as the Chief of Staff to Governor Okorocha, Chief Uche Nwosu who is also an aspirant.
In a related development, some thugs invaded the party secretariat at Orji road, and vandalised the canopies and chairs set for the briefing of the stakeholders meeting.

The thugs who came in large numbers where said to have also fought and wounded people present at the party secretariat.
Deputy Governor of the State, Prince Eze Madumere and Uwajumogu were said to have escaped death by whiskers as the thugs hauled stones and other dangerous weapons at them.

Governor Okorocha while briefing journalists shortly after the meeting kicked against the election, saying that he did not have confidence in the people that conducted it.

The governor said that materials, especially the result sheets for the conduct of the APC ward congresses in the state, were not found up to the evening of yesterday.

The governor who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Sam Onwuemeodo, said that the argument over who was in custody of the materials had been between the man originally posted to the state for the conduct of the congresses, Chief Ini Okorie and the

Organizing Secretary of the party, Chief Osita Izunaso.

“While Izunaso said he handed over the materials to Chief Okorie, the man himself said Chief Izunaso didn’t give him the materials.

“And this evening (yesterday) when the police took Chief Okorie to the residence of Senator Izunaso to resolve the issue of who among them had the materials, the man disappeared in Izunaso’s house,” Okorocha said.

The governor, therefore, appealed to the members of the party in the state to remain calm and avoid actions that could lead to fracas or loss of lives.

He said he would not like any Imo man or woman to lose his or her life because of politics during his administration, assuring that the proper action would be taken.

Election marred in Anambra as Okorocha detains officials in Imo

Geoffrey Anyanwu (Awka); Jeff Agbedo and Aloy Attah (Onitsha)

There was confusion in Anambra State as officials assigned to conduct the ward congress of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state were allegedly held hostage by the Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, yesterday.

As at 7 pm yesterday, party members were still waiting in vain for the officials to arrive to conduct the congress.
It was then heard that the leaders of the party in state led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige and the party’s governorship candidate in the November 18, Anambra State Governorship election, Dr. Tony Nwoye, had agreed to wait till today to know when it would be rescheduled.

But when contacted at 7.45pm yesterday, Sen. Ngige said the congress went on peacefully as they worked with about two members of the congress committee that were left in Anambra.

The Minister said that those who could not finish yesterday would continue today.
He said, “We are going on, the accreditation is on, some people were able to do theirs today (yesterday) the others will continue tomorrow (today), after church service. It is going on and it is peaceful.”

Asked of the officials for the congress who were said to be held hostage in Owerri, Ngige said it was not all of them that were held in Owerri and that those left behind were handling the congress.

His words: “Yes but there were some left behind from the team and we have finished all the modalities, we have finished stakeholders meeting where we mapped out the procedure, that they were held up in Owerri wasn’t too much of a problem, we continued with the two persons that were around.

“We are expecting the people being released from Owerri, they have been released so they should be on their way to Anambra, from this evening (yesterday) to tomorrow morning (today) they will continue the congresses. The election appeal committee, they are already on their way, they will come in tomorrow, so for now we are okay.”

But on his part, Dr. Nwoye told Sunday Sun that they were still waiting for the officials who were held hostage in Owerri.
He said, “We have no problems just that the officials that were supposed to handle Anambra congress were moved to Imo and moved the Imo team to Anambra but Gov. Rochas held them hostage that they wanted to write result, so they are still being held hostage in Imo, so our party people who came out since morning are still here.

“We are just waiting, Ngige, all of them, they just say we wait to tomorrow by tomorrow we will know when it will be rescheduled.”

Downpour delays congress in Benue

Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

The ward congresses of the All Progressives Congress (APC) couldn’t commence on time in Benue as a result of an early morning downpour which lasted till around 11am in most parts of the state yesterday.

However, Sunday Sun gathered that in Agatu Local government, the decision to retain members of the executives both at the local government and the ward levels was adopted.

Council chairman Agatu LG, Hon, Mrs Echoda Comfort, while addressing party faithful at a meeting in Obagaji, the local government headquarters, disclosed that there was no need to go against the directives of the leaders of the party from above, hence the decision to call for the meeting.

Parallel congress held in Ebonyi

Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki

In Ebonyi, the leadership crisis rocking the state’s chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) reared up again as the two factions took their supremacy battle further.

The two factions, our correspondent gathered, held parallel ward congresses in all the 171 electoral wards across the state.
The two factional chairmen, Hon. Ben Nwaobasi and Pastor Eze Nwachukwu Eze, conducted the ward congress elections.
While Pastor Eze is reportedly loyal to Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the Nwaobasi group is said to be loyal to the governorship candidate of the party in 2015 general election, Senator Julius Ucha.

Yesterday, as the Nwaobasi faction was conducting its congresses in the wards, the Nwachukwu faction was at the factional party secretariat along Abakaliki/Afikpo road waiting for the distribution of congress materials.

Addressing newsmen in Abakaliki, the factional chairman of the party, Nwaobasi, expressed reservations about the seven-man committee led by Mr Ajayi Nicholas, and alleged that some interested chieftains of the party had hijacked the committee.

Oyo deputy speaker, 2 congress committee members injured

•Congress to hold today

Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan

The ward congress of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State which should have held yesterday was shifted to today after due consultations and agreement by all stakeholders.

The consultation was made by members of the Congress Monitoring Team led by Alhaji Musa Halilu-Ahmed, at the pre-congress stakeholders’ meeting held yesterday afternoon at the state secretariat of the party at Oke Ado, Ibadan.
The meeting, which was earlier scheduled to hold in the morning, was aborted as a result supremacy battle that ensued between members of the party.

The deputy speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly, Abdulwasi Musah, and two members of a committee set up by the national secretariat of APC as well as many others were reportedly injured in the process.

Sunday Sun learnt that a serving commissioner went to the party secretariat ahead of the commencement of the meeting and made arrangement for chairs for some stakeholders.

But a member of the House of Representatives was said to have hijacked the chairs, which led to argument between them. Another member of the House of Representatives reportedly walked up to them and insisted that lawmakers being elected officers were supreme to commissioners who are mere appointees.

This was said to have led to a heated argument and supporters of both groups joined in the contention, resulting in a rowdy session. It was further gathered that a set of hoodlums also invaded the venue shortly after the argument and inflicted varying degrees of injury on stakeholders already seated for the meeting.

In the process, the invaders that reportedly brandished dangerous weapons such as broken bottles, knives, cutlasses and guns, injured two among the six-member Congress Monitoring Team that came from Abuja, and many other people.

But for the timely intervention of security agencies deployed to maintain peace and those attached to public officers, the situation could have probably led to loss of lives.

The stakeholders that already converged on the venue before the disruption included all members of the congress committee; Minister of Communication, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu; former Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly, Monsurat Sunmonu, who currently represents Oyo Central in the Senate; and APC executive in the state. They all ran for dear lives as the hoodlums as invaded the venue.
Some members of the party that were aggrieved ran to the premises of Oyo State police command at Eleyele in Ibadan for a meeting, where at least nine members of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu and Senator Sunmonu, among others, gathered and condemned the invasion.

But the pre-congress stakeholders’ meeting was later held in the afternoon, which was attended by all the stakeholders, including aggrieved members that went to Eleyele, as well as the state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
The decision to shift the congress till today was taken at the meeting and it was announced by the congress committee chairman, Alhaji Musa Halilu-Ahmed.

Congress committee members abscond with materials

•Stakeholders reject committee

Judex Okoro, Calabar

Cross River APC stakeholders yesterday rejected the Ward Congress committee, describing the conduct their as a sham.
They accused members of the committee of absconding with the election materials.
Stakeholders including the Special Assistant to President on Prosecution, Bar Obono Obla, Senator John Owan, South South Vice

Chairman, Hon Hillard Etta, Deputy Chairman, John Ochalla, Vice Chairman, Central, Hon Cletus Obun, Secretary of the party, Victor Ebong, and other party officials met at the party secretariat about 4:00pm yesterday and passed a vote of no confidence on the panel, ordering them to go back to Abuja.

The Special Assistant President Buhari on Prosecution, Obon Obla, expressed worry that in spite of series of meetings held in River State at the instance of Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, to resolve the crisis in the Cross River chapter, the Minister of Niger Delta, Usani Uguru, still attempted to impose ward officers across board without recourse to other stakeholders.
Obla said it was very unfortunate that some people still tried to compromise the congress committee members to the detriment of party faithful.

He said: “Amaechi appealed to convene a meeting to organise an inclusive congress where all the tendencies would be integrated. But Usani refused and rather allegedly moved into Danic Hotels located at Ekorinum were they attempted to conduct a fake congress. Having got the information, we moved in and stopped them.”

Also speaking, Senator John Owan Eno, decried the attitude of the committee, saying, “We feel disappointed that people can still carry out such undemocratic acts. It was surprising that we had to chase the committee to a hotel where we found them with a list of ward congress leaders. I am not asking for any favour, I only want the right thing to be done by conducting a free and fair congress so that we can build APC in Cross River.”