• We will not tolerate parallel congresses, divisive activities in any state chapter, declares APC
The All Progressives Congress on Sunday vowed to punish its members who organised parallel ward congresses on Saturday contrary to its directive.
The Secretary of the Caretaker/ Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the APC, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, who stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, also said the party would come hard on members who flouted its directive that all court cases against it should be withdrawn.
According to him, the party will, in line with Section 21(D) of its constitution, punish members, who resort to self-help.
States, where there were reports of parallel ward congresses on Saturday, included Osun, Ogun, Kwara and Oyo.
On Sunday, rival groups, who participated in parallel ward congresses engaged one another in war of words.
In Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Niger and Delta, groups within the party disagreed on the exercise. While some said it was free and fair, others insisted that it was illegal and marred by violence.
But in the interview with The PUNCH, Akpanudoedehe warned that the party would impose sanctions on party members who organised parallel congresses.
Akpanudoedehe said the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led committee had zero tolerance to indiscipline.
He said, “The party will not tolerate parallel congresses anywhere. We were very, very clear about what we were doing.
“Members cannot resort to self-help. We have processes and procedures which we advise aggrieved members to follow.
“If any member has an issue with the congresses, we will set up an appeal panel, let such a member approach the panel. We will wait for the outcome of the appeal panel before we take the next step, but the warning we issued based on the resolution of the National Executive Committee in December still subsists.”
Akpanudoedohe had on Friday said, “For purposes of clarity, may I re-state the relevant point in the resolution to wit:
“Pending litigation instituted by members against the party should be withdrawn forthwith, and going forward, no member should institute matters against the party, without exhausting the internal mechanism for conflict resolution, as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 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.
“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 any one who perpetrates such unlawful Act(s) and also on their sponsors.
Article 21 (D) of the APC Constitution 2014 (As amended), captioned Punishment of Erring Members, reads in part, “(i) The party shall have power to impose the following sanctions on members in accordance with the nature and gravity of their offence: reprimand; censure; fine; debarment from holding party office; removal from party office; suspension from party office and expulsion from the party .”
Violence recorded in three LGAs – Aregbesola’s group
But Akpanudoedehe gave the warning, while in Osun State, two groups in the party, Ileri oluwa Movement and The Osun Progressives, berated each other over the conduct of the ward congress.
We will take our results to Abuja – Aregbesola’s group
Speaking to The PUNCH, the APC caretaker Secretary, Mr Razaq Salinsile, who identified with The Osun Progressives, a group backed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said party members were attacked in Ile Ife, Ilesha and Boripe local government areas, amongst others.
Salinsile, who also accused the Congress Committee of supporting Adegboyega Oyetola’s group (Ileri Oluwa Movement), said about 20 per cent of wards collation centres were visited by the people in charge of the exercise and declared that his group was collating results of parallel congress it held across the state for onward transmission to Abuja National Headquarters of the APC.
He insisted that the congress committee refused to associate with other stakeholders in the party, except members of Oyetola’s group.
“There was violence in many places. There was violence in Ife and as well as Ilesha as the Boripe Local Government Area where the governor hails from and a pocket of other places. We are still collating results across the state. We are reporting the Congress Committee. None of us, except Governor Oyetola and his group, saw congress committee members.
“We had earlier alerted the whole state that the man had been hijacked. He called a stakeholders meeting, but only members of Ilerioluwa group were there. No screening was done. Everything they did was cult-like. We will have to take our results to Abuja because we can’t see the committee members.
“In 80 per cent of the collation centres where the congress was held in the state, there was no INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) officer. The committee only went to some areas and took a list affirmed by Ilerioluwa group. They were not visible in most places. Where they went, they carried out instructions of Mr Governor,” Salinsile concluded.
No violence, it was hitch-free – Party chairman
Asked for reaction to claims that violence marred the Congress in some LGAs, the state APC Caretaker chairman, Prince Gboyega Famoodun, who spoke through his media consultant, Kola Olabisi, said the exercise was violence-free and held without hitch across the state.
Famoodun also said all stakeholders were involved in the activities towards the congress, stressing that Salinsile that complained that his group was sidelined, abandoned his office at the state secretariat.
Famoodun said, “Alhaji Salinsile’s allegation of being shut out of the preparation for the APC ward congress that took place across the state yesterday is a mere fabrication which is devoid of elements of truth.
“The secretary of the party wasn’t shut out of the congress process as the state secretariat of the party was opened to party activities Ask him when, where and how he was shut out? At what stage?
“The ward congress was peaceful, credible, flawless and acceptable across the state as it was attested to by the members of the state National Committee of the APC on the congress. Gbenga Elegbeleye supervised the exercise in all the wards.”
In Ogun State, groups loyal to the state Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, and his immediate predecessor, Senator Ibukunle Amosun, held parallel ward congresses, which produced two results in the 236 wards in the state.
But the Chairman of the state Ward Congress Committee, Wale Ohu, denied that there were parallel congresses in the state.
When confronted with the evidence of the parallel congresses held in the state, Ohu said “That is your own perception.
“There is no fragmentation in the party. There is only one location that was announced as venue for the congress and it is wrong, null and void for anybody to hold any other congress. That is the instruction from headquarters.”
The APC factions loyal to the Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, and the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed held parallel congresses on Saturday.
Delta caretaker committee divided over congress
The Chairman of the Delta State APC Ward Congress Committee, Mr Matthew Omegara, in an interview with journalists on Sunday in Asaba, said the exercise was peaceful.
Also, the state APC Chairman, Mr Jones Erue, stated, “Those who are kicking are on their own. I am the state chairman and elections were held successfully in Delta.”
But the state Organising Secretary (Caretaker) of the party, Amorighoye Mene, said the ward congress was not held in Delta State.
“Ward congress did not hold in Delta. The party members are angry. The policemen at the party secretariat were there to secure lives and property. They were there for security reasons. If you look into the compound nothing is going on.
“How could you have the state headquarters of the party shut on the day of the congress. That is to tell you that congresses did not hold in Delta. I say this authoritatively”
Ekiti ward congress, a charade, characterized by violence – Pro-Tinubu group
In Ekiti State, the National Chairman of the South West Agenda for Asiwaju 2023, a group rooting for Bola Tinubu’s presidency within the All Progressives Congress, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, on Sunday described the ward congresses in the Ekiti State on Saturday as charade.
Adeyeye, who lamented the violence and deprivation that characterised the exercise, called on the APC national leadership “to order new ward congresses in Ekiti and fix a new date for the exercise”.
The SWAGA national chairman, who spoke at a press conference in Ado Ekiti, said, “We are hereby telling the Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee, our party members nationwide and indeed, all Nigerians, that there was no congress in Ekiti State yesterday (Saturday). What happened was a charade that cannot pass the test of democracy and it is totally unacceptable”.
Adeyeye, who, in his address titled, ‘The charade called ward congresses in Ekiti State: The morning after, said, “In places like Ijero, Ado Ekiti and Oye councils, extreme violence was visited on people, leading to one death in Ado Ekiti Ward 10. Several people were also wounded and properties destroyed. We have video clips of some of these heinous incidents.
The SWAGA leader alleged that members of the Tokan-tokan group loyal to Governor Kayode Fayemi, compromised and manipulated the “purported ward congresses in Ekiti State”, said the people also unleashed violence on others to have their way.
He said, “Prior to the congresses, the Tokan-tokan members had constituted for themselves a seven-man electoral committee with no input from many party stakeholders in the state. This is even as the CECPC had earlier advised that effort should be geared towards peaceful resolution of conflicts so that the APC could birth consensus delegates across board.
“We are miffed by this level of desperation and wanton electoral recklessness. If it will take killings, wounding of over a hundred of our members and all sorts of violence, for the Tokan-tokan group to succeed in an intra-party contest, what are we going to witness in a general election? ,,
“It is disheartening that those charged with the responsibility to strengthen our party in Ekiti are rather pillaging and giving it all sorts of bad names on the track of violence. If we lost three lives in the Ekiti East bye-elections and this again in an intra-party affair, then there is still more to be done to lead us to the right path,” Adeyeye said.
Adeyeye said that as witnessed on Saturday, “the presence of INEC officials was not felt at the congresses. In most of the centres, members of the Tokan-tokan group took over the INEC job. The presence of the law enforcement agents was also very insignificant. We witnessed a situation where people waited agitatedly from dawn to almost dusk, in a decoy deployed to frustrate voters.
“We also recorded a situation later in the day where the Tokan-tokan group hand-picked some loyalists and were moving them from one ward to the other in a save-face measure to give a semblance of congress,” he said.
No parallel congresses, exercise free, fair – Ekiti APC
However, the Ekiti State APC debunked reports that there was violence in Ekiti State, saying, “We would like to state categorically that the exercise was overwhelmingly peaceful across the state and was a demonstration of our commitment to the principles and practice of democracy as our members trooped out peacefully to elect executives of the party in the 177 wards in the state.
The APC state Director, Media and Communications, Caretaker Committee, Elder Sam Oluwalana, said, “Without prejudice to ongoing investigations by the Ekiti State Command of the Nigeria Police Force, we would like to clarify issues around the isolated case of violence that occurred around the venue of the congress in Ward 10, Ado Ekiti, which sadly resulted in the death of one person”.
He said, “It is incontrovertible that the congress in the ward was peacefully concluded, followed by a celebration. Afterwards, there was a disagreement between two individuals around the venue on a matter totally unconnected to the congresses, which led to a fight and the unfortunate demise of one of them.
“In most of the wards across the state, the members and stakeholders of the party chose their leaders by consensus after extensive consultations and came out to affirm their choices at the designated congress venues. In other wards where consensus could not be reached, there were free and fair elections in line with the provisions of the party’s constitution.
“There were no instances of parallel congresses anywhere in the state, and the entire exercise was conducted under the supervision of officials of INEC and security agencies,” Oluwalana stated.
There was no ward congress in Akwa Ibom, says ex-MILAD
In Akwa Ibom State, an APC chieftain and former Military Administrator of Ogun State, Group Capt Sam Ewang (retd), said there was no ward congress in the state.
He said anyone saying there was a congress in the state was acting the scripts of his master.
Ewang, in an interview with one of our correspondents, stated, “There is no result. Have you heard of any result announced anywhere? The results could not be announced because there was no congress at all. Anyone telling you that congress took place is talking for his master.”
However, the Chairman of the seven-man committee that supervised the congress in the state, Yusuf Sheriff Banki, faulted Ewang’s claims, saying the ward congress was held throughout the 329 wards of the state.”
Congress illegal, APC constitution does not recognise caretaker – Niger factional secretary
The factional secretary of the APC in Niger State, Mohammed Liman, said the party was heading for self-destruction following its decision to go ahead with the ward congress despite the litigation over the legality of the caretaker.
Liman said any action taken by the caretaker committee, including the Saturday’s Ward congress, was null and void, stressing that all those elected as ward leaders would not preside over the affairs of the party.
Recall that the secretary and the Chairman, Jibrin Iman, were removed from office over allegation of financial misappropriation, a decision that had been challenged in court by the two leaders and the case still pending.
The secretary who spoke to journalists in Minna on Sunday, warned the party not to continue with the congresses without addressing some pending legal issues.
He stated, “We are still the legitimate leaders of the party in the state today and we stand by that because nobody has given us any letter either removing us suspending us.”
No parallel congress in Ogbomoso – Akala
A former Oyo State Governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala on Sunday described as false the claim that the APCCC conducted parallel congresses in the Ogbomoso North Local Government Area of the state on Saturday.
There were reports on Sunday that the parallel congresses were held in a part of Oyo State by the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, and Alao-Akala.
Reacting to the claim of a former Vice Chairman of the Ogbomoso Central Local Council Authority, Chief Ademola Olawale, that parallel congresses were held in the local government, Alao-Akala said the minister was not part of that of what he described as an attempt to cause crisis within the party.
Akala stated, “The Honourable Minister, who is presently out of the country on a national assignment is a man who holds party supremacy in high esteem. He is committed to the growth and development of the APC and will never be a party to such shenanigan of the mischievous element.
“I have not spoken to him today but I can tell you he is not party to the dirty antics of the man that claimed he held parallel primaries in the Ogbomoso North Local Government of all places.
“We held a series of stakeholders meeting both at the state level and at the Ogbomoso zone of the state and the minister was fully part of the whole processes.”
However, HEADLINENEWS could not independently verify the report, but the story has been edited to reflect new developments.
This story is credited to PUNCH NEWSPAPERS.