May 31, 2017

APC primaries crisis: Casualty now two as protesters sack party’s state secretariat

*Ambode … Abule-Egba bridge will cut travel time

By Evelyn Usman, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Gbenga Oke & Monsuru Olowoopejo

lagos—The bitterness that arose from the primary elections for chairmanship and councillor candidates in the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, continued yesterday as aggrieved party members stormed the state party secretariat and sacked staff and officials present.

Meanwhile, the casualty from the Monday council primary elections rose to two yesterday following the midnight killing of a party stalwart simply identified as Desokan Baba Owo.

He was shot dead midnight of Monday in the Mafoluku area of Lagos in what was alleged to be a reprisal attack that followed the earlier killing of local party enforcer, Razaq Bello otherwise known as Hamburger.

Those aggrieved against the killing of Hamburger, Vanguard learnt, also stormed the house of a leader of the rival gang, Samson Agbetoye, popularly called Golden but did not meet him as he had since fled the community.

Recall that fight broke out between the rival groups at Saka/Opo-Osun area of the Shogunle, following a dispute over candidates to support in the APC primary election.

Tension remained high in the Shogunle area throughout Monday night and through yesterday as supporters of Hamburger sought out loyalists of the rival gang for reprisal.

While they were at one time dispersed by the arrival of battle ready policemen, Vanguard gathered that after the departure of the policemen late on Monday, the armed thugs took over the vicinity, attacking rival members. In the process, one of the groups marched to Mafoluku, where Deshakan, who was said to be the right-hand man of the leader of the rival group that allegedly fired the shot that killed Hamburger, Agbetola, was attacked. He reportedly died moments after being rushed to the hospital.

Although there was a heavy presence of policemen around the area yesterday, residents nevertheless remained indoors for the better part of the day, with shops still under lock, over fear of an imminent reprisal attack.

Meanwhile, Hamburger was yet to be buried yesterday.

Vanguard gathered that an initial plan to bury him yesterday, according to Islamic rites was shelved, following arguments on the need to carry out discreet investigation with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.

Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW Alhaji Tajudeen Agbede, meanwhile has appealed to the state police command to ensure a thorough investigation into Hamburger’s murder.

Agbede said: “It is almost becoming a tradition in Oshodi that a popular figure must die whenever a major election is approaching. We are calling on the police authorities to get to the root of this murder to end the ugly incidents.”

He also appealed to members of the union in the area to remain calm and allow the police do their job.

Meanwhile, placard-carrying party members yesterday sacked the state secretariat of the party in protest against the alleged discrepancies in the conduct of the primaries.

Some of the protesters came from Agege, Mushin, Oshodi-Isolo, among other areas where disputes arose over the alleged plans by party elders to impose candidates for the election.

The protesters, who started gathering in the early morning, in an apparent attempt to reject the planned publication of candidates, later went on the rampage, when the unarmed policemen and private security guards prevented them from gaining access into the secretariat premises.

They eventually forced their way into the premises and went after officials who they accused of what they termed, “partiality” by foisting consensus candidates against the wish of the majority.

Men of the Rapid Response Team, RRS, of the Lagos State Police Command, led by its Commander, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, Olatunji Disu subsequently arrived and restored normalcy and dispersed the protesters, albeit after calling for reinforcement.

Meantime, different reactions continued to trail the developments in the party.

While some saw it as not unusual, others saw it as an erosion of the democratic values championed by the APC.

One of the APC chieftains who spoke in confidence with Vanguard, described the development as normal in any political setting, saying, “It will soon be resolved, saying it is nothing to worry about.”

The chieftain added, “Whether there is protest or not, w e are going to display most likely, tomorrow, (today), the names of nominated candidates as presented by the election committee. We are moving on.”

Ejigbo LG chairmanship aspirants write APC

Four out of six Chairmanship aspirants on the platform of the APC in Ejigbo LCDA, have urged the leadership of the party to urgently make pronouncement on the next line of action in the interest of the party on the crisis as they affirmed that there was no consensus reached by them contrary to assertions by party chieftains.

The four aspirants who stated this were Oluwasegun Mutairu Musa, Gbenga Arulogun, Peter Ajayi and Habeeb Anibaba.

The aspirants, who have sent a letter of protest to the party secretariat, explained that the leadership of the party at the local government did not call them to any meeting to choose consensus candidates.

They, however, called on the state leadership, State Electoral Committee, and the National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to jettison any name presented by the Ejigbo LCDA  APC leadership as the leadership failed to call all aspirants to any meeting before the date of the primary till date.

A leader of the APC in Amuwo-Odofin who spoke to Vanguard said: “Various violence that rocked the primaries in Amuwo-Odofin and other LGAs in Lagos could have been prevented only if our leaders heeded advice and allowed the people to choose their candidates.

“How can a party that came to power on the slogan of change would force candidates on its supporters and you expect people not to react. This incident is unfortunate and highly regretted. However, I feel strongly that the party needs to look into these issues and make amends,” the Amuwo Odofin based party chieftain asserted.

Another party chieftain who spoke to Vanguard from Oshodi/Isolo also accused the leaders of the party of favouring a particular candidate which led to the fracas that broke out between two factions of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, in the LGA.

His words: “What happened in this LGA is very unfortunate, and I think the party needs to learn from what has happened. The party promised from day one they will not favour any aspirant, but they later gave support to some aspirants, a situation that led to a serious fracas here in Oshodi/Isolo such that some members used machetes and other weapons against themselves.”

Ahead of the primaries, several groups including Lagos Democratic Forum had accused the leadership of trying to subvert the democratic tendencies and supporting un-qualified aspirants to emerge as candidates of the party at the July 22 LGA elections in the state.

The spokesman of the party in the state, Mr. Joe Igbokwe did not respond to calls seeking his reaction yesterday.