Despite the riot act read Friday to all its chieftains in all the states across the country, violence, protest and boycott marred Saturday’s ward congresses in several state chapters of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
Against the directive of the party leadership, parallel congresses were also held in many of the states. Some of the states where chaos was recorded include Ogun, Ekiti, Oyo, Akwa Ibom, and Imo states.
In Ekiti State, violence in Ikere-Ekiti allegedly led to the death of a party member while several others were allegedly injured when supporters of the state Governor Kayode Fayemi and those of the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, reportedly clashed.
The APC national leadership had in a preemptive move Friday read the riot act to its chieftains against the conduct of parallel congresses in the states, threatening to sanction members who conduct parallel congresses.
The secretary of the National Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, in a notice, said the party would invoke necessary disciplinary measures on those who hold parallel congresses.
He reminded party members of the National Executive Committee’s resolution of December 8, 2020, which directed members not to take the party to court unless they had exhausted “the internal mechanism for conflict resolution, as enshrined in the party’s constitution.”
Akpanudoedohe said, “For the purpose of clarity, may I restate the relevant point in the resolution to wit: All pending litigations instituted by members against the party should be withdrawn forthwith, and going forward, no member should institute matters against the party, without exhausting the internal mechanism for conflict resolution, as enshrined in the party’s constitution.
“Consequent upon the above, party members should please note that all activities that may be carried out by persons to put the party and its officers in a bad light, before, during and after the congresses should be jettisoned; all activities or processes leading up to the congresses and thereafter, which do not have the approval of the CECPC are exercises in futility. This is to say that any purported parallel congress, parallel party organ and or parallel party office, is, to say the least, a nullity. These divisive activities will not be tolerated.”
He added, “For the avoidance of doubt, the party shall deploy the full weight of the law as stipulated in section 21(D) of our party’s Constitution on anyone who perpetrates such unlawful Act(s) and also on their sponsors.”
However, several state chapters of the party Saturday defied the party’s directives, conducting parallel congresses marred by violence and boycott.
Abiodun, Amosun, Akala, Dare’s supporters hold factional elections
In Ogun State, supporters of Governor Dapo Abiodun, and his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, produced two results in each of the 236 wards during Saturday’s congresses.
UGAMATV gathered that a party member was injured when loyalists from both camps clashed at Ward 11 in Abeokuta South Local Government Area.
There was also tension when the Abiodun’s loyalists allegedly chased away a former member of the House of Representatives, Mikky Kazeem, from a ward in Abeokuta North Local Government Area.
Kazeem, who is one of Amosun’s aides, in a viral video, was seen humiliated when he allegedly left his ward for another venue of the congress within the area.
One of our correspondents who monitored the exercise in the state observed that party leaders from both Abiodun and Amosun’s camps stormed their wards with prepared lists of executives, which were adopted after the headcounts of the party members in attendance.
In some wards, the two camps used separate venues apparently to avoid a clash between the different groups.
In Iperu Ward 3 in Ikenne Local Government Area, Abiodun took part in the congress, describing the exercise as peaceful.
The governor said the congress in his ward was a consensus arrangement that was ratified through an electoral process, assuring party faithful that he would ensure that the ward was empowered to perform its duties.
“What we did here today was in line with what the Caretaker Extraordinary Committee on Convention Planning has prescribed that we do in order to put our house in order in APC,” he said.
Meanwhile, the APC National Committee for Ward Congress in the state declared that there was no parallel congress in the state.
The committee chairman, Wale Ohu, said, “Ogun State congress today (Saturday) was very peaceful in the sense that the people behaved well. They conducted themselves well. It was rancour-free and there was a large turnout of party members and it has been concluded accordingly.”
Similarly, in Oyo State, the crisis in the state chapter of the APC came to the fore as party members loyal to the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, and those loyal to former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala held different ward congresses in Ogbomoso North Local Government Area.
The two APC leaders and the chairman of the party in the state, Chief Akin Oke, are all from Ogbomoso North Local Government Area.
A former Vice Chairman, Ogbomoso Central Local Council Development Authority, Chief Ademola Olawale, told Sunday PUNCH that two parallel congresses were held to elect new party officials in Ogbomoso North Local Government Area.
He said, “We held parallel congresses in Ogbomoso North Local Government. Those who belong to Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala held their congress and those of us who belong to the minister, Sunday Dare, held our congress at the collation centre, which is the right place.”
A party chieftain, Dawud Sulayman, also confirmed that different ward congresses were conducted in Ogbomoso North Local Government Area.
Sulayman stated that the congress conducted by Akala’s loyalists violated the party’s guidelines.
However, the Secretary, Media and Publicity Committee of the APC in Oyo State, Mr Olawale Shadare, said no parallel congresses were held.
But he said the party would look into the crises in some wards.
Also, in Abia State, the APC on Saturday organised parallel ward congresses as a leadership crisis continues to rock the party in the state.
The congresses came barely two days after the party re-affirmed the suspension of its chieftain, Chief Ikechi Emenike.
Emenike is the leader of a faction of the party, challenging the Donatus Nwankpa-led executive committee.
Tinubu, Fayemi supporters’ fracas claims one in Ekiti, score injured
Meanwhile, violence erupted in some wards in Ekiti State during the ward congresses across the 16 council areas of the state.
Multiple sources alleged that a person who sustained injuries in the violence that erupted in one of the wards in Ado Ekiti died at the hospital while others were receiving treatment following injuries sustained.
“After the congress was concluded at Ward 10, there was a disagreement among some members which led to violence. One of them, simply identified as Jide, was stabbed and rushed to the hospital where he was confirmed dead,” a source said.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Ekiti State Command, Sunday Abutu, confirmed the killing.
He said, “When we got there, we were told that the person had been rushed to the hospital, where he was confirmed dead.
“From our findings, he was beaten with a charm and investigations have commenced towards arresting the perpetrators.”
The violence was caused by members of a group loyal to Governor Kayode Fayemi called Fayemi Tokan Tokan and another group loyal to the APC National Leader, Tinubu, called South West Agenda for Asiwaju 2023 (SWAGA).
The Fayemi group embraced consensus for the exercise while SWAGA advocated voting.
The disagreement between the groups culminated in violence during which political thugs allegedly unleashed on the members, with many sustaining injuries and vehicles destroyed.
Among wards where violence broke out in Ado Ekiti were wards 4, 8, 9 and 10, where thugs allegedly went on the rampage and disrupted voting.
SWAGA state chairman, Senator Tony Adeniyi, who bemoaned the violence during the congresses, said, “There was no election today in Ekiti because there was no accreditation across the wards.
“I can confirm to you that there was violence in Ikere-Ekiti. There was violence in virtually all the wards in Ado-Ekiti and several people were wounded. In Ward 10, someone was killed. Is that how to conduct a congress?”
Also, a governorship aspirant, Chief Reuben Famuyibo, who had on Friday raised the alarm over the possibility of parallel congresses, said, “As I predicted on Friday, there was no election today. What we saw were thugs moving around the wards.”
“This is not a democracy and our politicians have not learnt any lesson and it is unfortunate. We await what the National Secretariat will do,” Famuyibo added.
But the state APC Caretaker Publicity Secretary, Ade Ajayi, said, “I can tell you that nobody was deprived of their right at the congress today and it is our hope that it will be an acceptable one by the stakeholders.”
Aregbesola’s supporters kick, say party not ready for governorship poll
Two rival groups in Osun APC, the Ileri Oluwa Movement comprising supporters of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and the Osun Progressives comprising supporters of the Minister of Interior and ex-governor, Rauf Aregbesola, battled for relevance, as the ward congress of the ruling party was held across the state.
While Oyetola’s group settled for the consensus model, Aregbesola’s group countered it in some wards.
In Iragbiji, the governor’s hometown, the congress was largely successful and held in line with the consensus model.
But in Ilesha, Aregbesola’s group countered the approach, a development that stalled the congress in some wards.
At Ward 3, Ilesha West Local Government Area of the state, some armed thugs allegedly attacked some APC members while waiting to participate in the exercise.
Speaking at Ejigbo, a former Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Najeem Salam, said, “The government in power has been harassing party members who are not in support of what they are doing.
“The National Congress Committee is only working with the list that the governor and the caretaker chairman gave to them. They are not aware that there is another ward congress committee that they did not carry along.
“If our results are not taken at the end of the day, that means that they are saying people here are not important to the party. That means they are throwing us out and nobody can do that because this is our party. We are only calling for the restructuring of the party.”
However, speaking with journalists, the chairman of the congress committee, Gbenga Elegbeleye, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the exercise.
“It’s been very okay. You know, the members conducted themselves in a free and fair atmosphere; officers were elected in our presence. We saw pure consensus.
“They all agreed that these are the officers we want to handle the affairs of the party in our wards, and there is no crisis about that,” he said.
The governor, Oyetola, also after the exercise in his Iragbiji hometown, told journalists, “It was peaceful. This is the first time in the history of this party that we would have a peaceful congress devoid of rancour.
“We agreed in principle that we are using consensus, and the beauty of that is that everybody agrees to the list of those people who will represent them for a number of years – four years.”
Akpabio, Lai Mohammed’s groups reject results, Okorocha’s supporters kick
Meanwhile, the ward congress in Akwa Ibom was marred by a protest.
The protesters believed to be supporters of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, besieged the party secretariat along Ikot Ekpene Road, Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, calling for the cancellation of the ward congress.
They alleged that the National Caretaker Secretary, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, “fraudulently manipulated the list to include only his loyalists as candidates for the ward congresses.”
The protesters set a bonfire outside the party secretariat, causing chaos and traffic and displayed placards with various inscriptions.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read, ‘Udoedehe cannot decide for us in Akwa Ibom,’ ‘The list cannot stand,’ ‘We reject this shambolic manipulation by one man,’ ‘This congress cannot hold,’ and ‘Enough of one-man dictatorship in Akwa Ibom APC.’
But the party’s publicity secretary in the state, Nkereuem Enyongekere, said what happened at the secretariat was a sponsored protest.
“Every member of the party was directed to go to their ward yesterday (Friday). But some people decided to go and burn fire at the secretariat. It was a sponsored protest because there was nothing to be done at the secretariat,” he said.
Also, in Kwara State, the Vice-Chairman of the state APC Caretaker Committee, Chief Sunday Oyebiyi, said his group, which is loyal to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, would not accept the result of the congress.
He said, “We held our own congress across the 16 local government areas of the state on Saturday. The results are trickling in and we are still collating them at the APC secretariat.
“We don’t have anything to do with the congress held by the other side which was supervised by the officials of the governor.”
But the APC chairman in the state, Alhaji Abdullahi Samari, whose faction is loyal to Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, said all the executives across the 193 wards emerged through a consensus arrangement.
He insisted that there were no parallel congresses throughout the state.
Samari said, “Though there might be one or two wards where an election was adopted to select the executives, but generally, the majority of the executive emerged through consensus.”
In a related development, members loyal to a former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, and a former senator, Ifeanyi Araraume, boycotted the ward congresses.
However, one of our correspondents who monitored the exercise observed that party members loyal to the state Governor, Hope Uzodimma, came out in huge numbers.
The APC chairman loyal to Okorocha’s group, Daniel Nwafor, said they boycotted the congress in respect to the court order on Friday.
He said, “We didn’t take part in that exercise. As long as we are concerned, that exercise was a sham. It was against an order of a court of competent jurisdiction. We are in court and the matter is coming up on August 10.”
But the APC group loyal to Uzodimma said that there was no court order barring the congress.
The spokesperson for the APC in the state loyal to the governor, Cajetan Duke, said the exercise went smoothly.
“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no court order restraining the party from the conduct of the scheduled ward congress,” he said.
When contacted, APC National Secretary, Akpanudoedohe, said no process stopping the exercise in Imo State had been served on the party “to the best of my knowledge.”
Bayelsa factions boycott exercise
In Bayelsa State, factions of the APC loyal to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, and a former Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, complied with the court order stopping the APC ward congresses scheduled for Saturday across the state.