•Free-for-all in Ondo, Rep attacked with machete
By our reporters
The state congresses of the All Progressives Congress, APC, ended in predictable confusion in many states, yesterday, with the crisis rocking the party prompting parallel state executives in at least seven states in largely peaceful gatherings.
It was, however, not so in Ondo State where the division between Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and some National Assembly members and other stakeholders escalated to violence that led to the thorough beating of as many as 50 journalists, politicians and observers by thugs. A member of the House of Representatives, Bamidele Baderinwa, was stripped naked and bludgeoned with machetes by the thugs at the rival congress. Osun State Commissioner for Regional Integration, Bola Ilori, who is from the state, was among the victims who got a taste of the beating by the thugs.
There were, however, largely uneventful congresses in several other states including Borno where all former officers were returned unopposed and a development that kept the structure of the party in the hands of Governor Kashim Shettima.
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State was, however, not as lucky as stakeholders opposed to his ascendancy ignored a last-minute court order to elect a new executive for the state chapter of the party. Okorocha, who ignored the congress to inspect projects in Okigwe, termed the stakeholders, led by his deputy, Prince Eze Madumere, as cowards.
Stakeholders in Delta and Rivers States were also enmeshed in intrigues. The Olorogun Otega Emerhor led tendency in Delta was outfoxed after his one-time protégée, Prophet Jones Erue, was returned as Chairman in a congress staged by the Great Ogboru/Ovie Omo-Agege tendency despite announcements that the congress had been postponed.
Parallel executives emerged in Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Zamfara, Enugu, Ebonyi, Kwara, among others.
In Lagos, the mainstream of the party joined Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and all National Assembly and state legislators elected on the party platform to elect a new state executive with Alhaji Babatunde Balogun emerging as Chairman.
The state congress was supervised by Senator Uche Ekwunife, Chairperson of the three-man congress committee delegated by the national secretariat.
The gathering of the prominent members nonetheless, a group, under the aegis of “Right to Choose Coalition,” and other amalgamated groups, convened at the Airport Hotel, Lagos where a parallel state executive with erstwhile Vice Chairman, Central, Fouad Oki, emerging as Chairman.
Kwara, which like Lagos had not recorded a division in the ward and local government area congresses, also witnessed a division after some stakeholders, led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, conducted a parallel congress.
However, the mainstream of the party converged with Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi, all members of the National and State Assembly and major stakeholders at the Congress at the Banquet Hall, opposite Government House, Ilorin.
The congress returned Alhaji Isola Balogun Fulani as Chairman and all the other 34 members of the former executive.
The congress turned bloody in Ondo State as thugs invaded the parallel congress held at the BTO Event Centre, Akure.
The thugs, numbering no fewer than 25, chased the delegates out of the hall, destroyed the ballot papers, and upturned the tables, chairs and electronic equipment in the venue.
Baderinwa, representing ldanre/lfedore Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives was thoroughly beaten.
His was stripped by the thugs while his orderly fled the scene. Senator Ajayi Boroffice and a former deputy governor of the state, Alhaji Alli Olanusi, who belong to the faction and were on their way to the congress, made a quick u-turn following the disruption of the state congress.
Also attacked were Mr. Bola Ilori and other party chieftains, including Tolu Babaleye, ldowu Otetunbi, the candidate for the Publicity Secretary of the faction, Leye Akinola, and the Director General of the Segun Abraham Campaign Organisation, Eko Davies.
Journalists, who were wounded include the state Chairman of the NUJ and state correspondent of Thisday, James Sowole, Damisi Ojo of The Nation, Bamigbola Gbolagunte of the Sun, Sunkanmi Elujoba of Adaba FM, and Olumide Abudu of Radio Nigeria Positive FM.
Plans by the national leadership for uniform fresh ward and local government congresses in Rivers State were unsuccessful after allies of the Senator Magnus Abe-led tendency boycotted the fresh ward congresses..
Those aligned to Abe said they kept away based on the court injunction against further congresses pending the court hearing on the dispute coming up in June.
In Ebonyi, parallel congresses were held with associates of the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, and those of Senator Julius Ucha converging in two different venues.
It was the same tale of acrimony in Oyo State where parallel executives at different congresses, separately championed by Governor Abiola Ajimobi and the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu.
At the Ajimobi-led congress, held in Adamasingba Stadium, and graced by the panel from the national secretariat, were former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, former Senate leader, Senator Teslim Folarin, Senator Fatai Buhar, Chief Adeniyi Akintola(SAN), Prince Akeem Adeyemi among others.
At the Liberty Stadium, where Shittu and others aligned to him, converged were Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, Dr. Busari Adebisi, Prof Adeolu Akande, and Dr. Ismail Adebayo Adewusi, among others.
In Adamawa State, parallel congresses were held by camps loyal to Governor Mohammed Jibrilla and his predecessor, Murtala Nyako.
In Anambra State, stakeholders, however, returned the immediate past executive based on consensus. There were also peaceful and harmonious congresses in Edo and Katsina States.