…as some states conclude exercise successfully
…police deploy officers to troubled states
The ward congresses of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to elect new executives of the party at ward level took place nationwide on Saturday (today).
However, reports from some states monitored by TheNewsGuru.com showed massive irregularities and break of law and order.
The heavy downpour across the country also contributed to hitches in some states.
TheNewsGuru.com presents state by state account of the Congress.
The ward congress across the state started late, owing to the late arrival of materials to different local government areas across the state.
The state APC leader, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, who voted at his Evwreni country home, described the exercise as “generally peaceful.”
However, a chairmanship aspirant in Jeremi Ward 10 (III), Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, Mr. Jeremiah Oghoveta, was reportedly stabbed to death.
Oghoveta, in his late 30s, was stabbed on the neck on Saturday, ahead of the commencement of the ward congress of the near God’s Grace Ministry at Okwagbe Town.
It was gathered that the deceased was stabbed by a younger brother of one the leaders of the party in the area before the arrival of materials for the exercise.
Sources in the community said it was not clear why the suspect had to stab the deceased after members of the party had reached agreement on how the exercise should be organised.
Violence erupted at the party’s secretariat in Oke-Ado before the commencement of the ward congress.
It is not clear what caused the issue, but the incident got everyone scampering for safety as weapons were involved.
Police orderlies, however, had to shoot into the air to safeguard their principals.
However, Governor Abiola Ajimobi was quick to arrive at the secretariat to ensure peace while the aggrieved members are at the police headquarters in Eleyele holding a press conference.
Before the violence stakeholders were seen meeting with the monitoring team.
Imo State also experienced some chaos over alleged hijack of Congress committee members.
Members of various factions in the state stormed the Police state headquarters to resolve the issues with heavy security presence at the police premises.
It’s alleged that there was a swap between Anambra and Imo congress committee members sent from Abuja.
Earlier in the day, there was no congress activity in all the wards as the APC Chairman in the state Hilary Eke called for an emergency stakeholders meeting scheduled to hold before the congress began.
Akwa Ibom State
Materials for the ward congress of the party in Akwa Ibom State which arrived earlier in the day were hijacked and diverted to a hotel in Osongama, a housing estate within the State capital.
Prior to this moment, there has been disagreement on the modalities to use for the exercise.
Obong Nsima Ekere, a chieftain of the party and former deputy governor of the State had insisted that the current executives of the party should be retained.
One report has it that Ekere paid about N100million to the national leadership of the party to get their support for this scheme.
Earlier, members of the party kicked against a “strange” proposal to upturn the procedures for the congress put forward by Atuekong Don Etiebet.
Etiebet who is the State caucus chairman of the party had proposed what is called “guided congress”.
Within the last few days, members of the APC in Akwa Ibom State have been in disarray over plot by Obong Nsima Ekere and a few others to hijack the congresses.
In Rivers State, the election of the ward officials of the party was conducted through option A4.
The Chairman of the party in the state, Chief Davies Ikanya, told newsmen in Port Harcourt that the exercise had nothing to do with distribution of materials.
“The only material the officials are with, is the result sheet. Members are expected to go to their various Wards and queue behind their choice aspirants.
“So, the tension created based on eagerness to monitor the distribution of materials was totally unnecessary, and this happened because they are uninformed,” Ikanya said.
However, one person was reported died in Port-Harcourt on Friday as unidentified persons, suspected to be political thugs vandalised the Secretariat of the party located at the Old Government Residential Area in Port Harcourt.
The Rivers Command of the Nigerian Police quickly intervened by deploying tear-gas to stop further destruction of the party’s secretariat.
In Edo the APC described the event across the state as “participatory democracy at play”.
The Chairman of the party in the state, Mr Anselm Ojezua, said members of the party through the casting of their votes were allowed freedom and right to take decision.
Ojezua said the party did not adopt the popular consensus style because it would have brought about acrimony and crisis in the party, “but the method the party adopted showed the collective wishes of members.”
He said the constitution of the party was sacrosanct, hence the party in state had been able to manage its affairs without internal or external wranglings.
He said that members were obedient and adhered strictly to the rules of the party during the exercise.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has commended the peaceful process members of the Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) conducted its ward congresses across the state.
The governor, who participated in the exercise at his Ward A6 in Epe Local Government Area, said the party had displayed high level of maturity in the conduct of party activities.
He added that members of the party who turned out in large number to exercise their civil responsibility had shown that the APC is a cohesive party.
He said: “All our great party members in Ward A6, you have done well for turning out in this number to be part of the APC ward congresses. I want to use this medium to thank you all for the orderliness and peaceful way you conducted yourself.
“We are members of the same family and that is why we are doing it in line with our constitution.
The party agreed that it is either we do election or we vote by way of consensus. And that what we have done peacefully today.
“I want to use this opportunity to say a big thank you to all our members across the state that performed this electoral process across the 337wards in the state .
We know that the APC can get stronger if there is always peace and consensus among all our members. Like in Epe division, elections have been conducted peacefully in all other divisions. This is the most beautiful ward in Lagos State presently.
I commend all our newly elected officials. We are very lucky to have observers from INEC who have just witnessed the process of the ward congress here.
Chief Lanre Razak speaking on the ward congress, said APC was a disciplined party, where rules are followed.
“Some people expect that we would have crisis riddled congress but you can see for yourself that the whole process is peaceful.
‘The APC has showed that it is the party to emulate. Again there is no party that is devoid of crisis. We have a good crisis management mechanism in place.
“Our national leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has been given an assignment to reconcile the party, I have every confidence that he will achieve the task given to him by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In Ondo, the newly-elected Ward 9 executives in Akure North Local Government Area commended the peaceful conduct of the congress.
Mr Kunle Olapade, the Ward Chairman, told newsmen at Oba-Ile area of Akure that the exercise was peaceful.
Similarly, the newly-elected Ward Woman Leader, Mrs Remi Adebowale, commended the party members for their commitment and loyalty to the party.
Adebowale also lauded the peaceful conduct of the exercise.
Mr Saka Yusuf, the state Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, said the party strictly followed the guidelines of INEC in the conduct of the congress.
Yusuf said there might be grievances from some people, but noted that the congress was welcomed by majority of party members.
In Lafia, a downpour delayed the take-off of the ward congresses.
The Chairman of the Makama Ward, Lafia, Malam Ahmed Ibrahim-Arari, assured that the exercise would commnce when the rains subsided.
“I assure you that there is no cause for alarm. Before you came, many delegates were here but had left because of the rain. Once the rain subsides, we will commence the congress,” Ibrahim-Arari said.
Hundreds of travellers were on Saturdays denied passage through Zamfara by armed security personnel following the conduct of the ward congresses in the state.
The fierce looking police, army and civil defense personnel had blocked all exits out of Gusau, the state capital, leaving motorists travelling out of the state stranded.
Some of the motorists especially commercial vehicles leaving the state capital as early as 7.00 am could not go beyond the outskirts of the town as they were stopped by the security personnel.
Many of the vehicle owners and passengers were seen wearing long faces unsure of what to do.
Some of them lamented that no announcement was made to the effect, and that the development had affected their business schedules.
Sale Moriki, a commercial driver going to Kano from Gusau, expressed disappointment over the development.
“If the government is serious, it would have reached out to our union leaders who would have prepared us before we came out, so, that drivers and passengers would plan ahead, ’’ he said.
When contacted the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, DSP Mohammed Shehu, he said the restriction of movement was to ensure smooth conduct of the exercise.
Governor Abubakar Bello called on members of the party and stakeholders in the state to work for peace, progress and unity of the party.
Bello made the called when he received members of the APC wards and Local Government Congress Committee on Saturday in Minna.
He called on the members of the party to be united and ensure fairness, justice and accountability in building enduring foundation for the party.
“We are building a structure that will outlive us, and the only way to do that is to build foundation of fairness, justice, equity and transparency,” he said.
He urged stakeholders at the state, local government and ward levels to remain steadfast in promoting the ideals that would ensure the consolidation of the gains of the party.
Earlier, Chief Ray Murphy, Chairman, APC Ward and Local Government Congress Committee, urged stakeholders to support the policies and programmes of the party.
He said that the support would move the party to greater height at all levels.
“We are not in Niger state to create division but rather to ensure consensus building,” he said.
He advised stakeholders to see the congress as an opportunity to further strengthen the party.
The Gombe State Police Command said it had deployed enough policemen to ensure hitch-free congress.
Mary Malum, the command’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) told newsmen in Gombe on Saturday that the measure would check any attempt at breaching the peace during the exercise.
She advised party officials and members to play the game according to the rules and refrain from taking the law into their hands.
“All measures have been put in place and currently, our men had been deployed to ensure a hitch free exercise.
“I am advising members of the public to be law-abiding and good citizens; the politicians should also play the game according to the rules so that there will be a hitch free exercise”, she said.
She further called on the delegates to understand that the exercise was not a ‘do or die’ affair.
Malum called on people in the state to always give useful information that would help in ensuring security of lives and property.
The ward congress in Kaduna held successfully in most local governments except Zaria and Sobongari Local Government Areas where officials arrived late.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that as at the time of filing this report officials expected to conduct the exercise were yet to arrive as at about 12 noon.
As at 12noon in Limancin-Kona, Kwarbai A, Kwarbai B, Kaura, Gyallesu, Kufena, Muchia, Chikaji, Jama’a, Samaru and Bomo wards among others reports that many party members were gathered at designated areas waiting for take-off of the exercise.
The party members who spoke on condition of anonymity, expressed concern over the delay and appealed for justice in the entire exercise.
One of the members said: “I am disappointed, I was here since 7:00a.m. thinking that they will start the election on time, so that we can finish and go about our normal daily businesses.
“APC should endeavour to prove that it is a party for positive change that will contemplate imposing party leadership on members.”
Another party member, noted that the ward congress “is scheduled to start at most by 9:00a.m. but the time now is after 11:00a.m. there is no news of the officials assigned to conduct the election.”
When contacted on telephone, the APC Zonal Chairman, Kaduna North Senatorial District, Alhaji Abubakar Rilwanu said they were still expecting the officials that would conduct the election.
Rilwanu who did not make further comment, however, called on all party members to exercise patience, assuring that the congress would hold.
Chief Eze Nwachukwu, the Ebonyi Acting Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC) on Saturday assured party faithful that conduct of the party’s wards congresses in the state would be open, peaceful and credible.
The chairman spoke on Saturday morning in Abakaliki at a meeting with party faithful, stakeholders and the electoral committee team from the APC national secretariat, Abuja.
Nwachukwu promised that the exercise would be open, peaceful and devoid of manipulation.
He called for support and cooperation of members to make the exercise hitch – free, noting that the success of the local government and state congresses were largely dependant on the outcome of the wards congresses.
“We assure you of commitment of the party to conduct transparent, peaceful wards congresses devoid of manipulation or imposition.
“We must put aside all differences and collectively work for overall success of the exercise because our victory in 2019 begins with the party congresses, ” Nwachukwu said.
The chairman charged party leaders and stakeholders to ensure that the outcome and integrity of the exercise was not compromised in their various wards.
He told the committee members that adequate security arrangements had been put in place to ensure their safety and the safety of other party faithful during the exercise.
He said: “Mr chairman, we want to assure you that the congress in Ebonyi will be the most peaceful and transparent, and that we are prepared for the exercise.
“We want to assure you that all hands will be on deck to achieve a resounding success in the exercise and put enemies of the party to shame.
“We welcome you on behalf of the party to Ebonyi, Salt of the Nation, and we assure you of adequate security.”
The chairman of the electoral committee, Chief Nicolas Adekunle – Ajayi, who spoke commended the unity and peace existing in the Ebonyi chapter of APC.
He assured that the congresses in the state would be peaceful, transparent and credible.
He said that participation in the exercise was open only to APC card-carrying members, adding that every aspirant was entitled to his or her aspiration.
Adekunle-Ajayi said that he would ensure that every eligible aspirant who had met the guidelines, paid nomination fee would collect his or her nomination form.
“The nomination forms are with the party chairman, we have extra forms and we assure you that we will ensure that every eligible aspirant who has paid for the nomination form will be given form.
“We are going to make the exercise so fair and transparent, so that at the end of the day everybody will be happy, we demand that you make the exercise easy for us.
“If we get it right between this morning and the next one week, be sure we are winning Ebonyi by 70 per cent of declared votes.
“But we must get it right, we must do what is right on this assignment, we call for your cooperation and we will do it to the satisfaction of the majority of the party faithful”, he said.
NB: Reports from other states will be updated as soon as we have them…