*Congresses didn’t hold, Imo lawmakers insist
*As Ahize battles governor in Imo West
ABUJA—EMBATTLED Imo state Governor, Rochas Okorocha may have lost the second leg of the battle to get the national leadership of his ruling All Progressives Congress APC to declare that there were no ward congresses in the state as the Appeal Committee constituted to determine petitions arising from the conduct of the exercise has affirmed that the congresses were conducted and officials duly elected.
This was as the committee said the governor lacked the locus standi to file any petition asking for a cancellation of the exercise because “the persons who would have the right to petition over the conduct of the ward congress elections are those qualified to contest the congress having purchased the forms.”
In its report dated May 10 and addressed to the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the Sen. Abubakar Tutare-led appeal committee held that “the petitions were written by unqualified persons and therefore would be construed as lacking the locus standi/basis to bring in any petitions.”
Other members of the three-member committee who signed the report are Hajia Hassana Abdullahi and Mr. Ikenna Uzoka.
Part of the report which was obtained by Vanguard read:”The panel began its official duty on Sunday the 6th of May 2018 by meeting APC Imo state Exco led by the state party chairman, Hilary Eke, the deputy state party chairman and the state organizing secretary. Thereafter the panel paid a courtesy visit to the state governor at the Government House.
“The lmo State Governor expressed his grievances regarding the exercise and provided videos and a petition for consideration by the panel.
“The congress committee tasked with the responsibility of conducting the ward congress elections submitted a report to the appeal committee.
“The committee also received another report from the state party secretariat affirming that the ward elections held in all the 305 wards in Imo state.
“A petition was also received from Obioma Ifeagwu who signed as the Acting State Secretary of APC stating that there was no election, with a communiqué attached.
“The panel received a petition from the chairman of the Ward congress committee in which he detailed his experiences which included allegations of kidnap and threats by the Imo State Governor and others.
“Several other petitions came affirming that the elections held but their complaint was that they were not able to contest as they could not buy the forms. After going through the petitions and carrying out our verifications, we have come to the following conclusions.
“That the congress committee which duty it was to conduct the congress elections affirmed that the elections took place; that the APC state party chairman and his deputy affirmed that the elections were duly held in all the 305 wards in the state; that the video evidence presented by the petitioner was an incident that took place in a private residence which was not a ward congress voting venue.
“Videos were also received from various ward election committees showing ward congresses being conducted in Imo State.
“Finally, based on the evidence and careful consideration carried out by us as the appeal committee, we hereby hold that the ward congresses of the 5th of May 2018 were duly conducted and held in the 305 wards in Imo State and APC ward officers were duly elected.”
Lawmakers insist congresses never held
However, some members of the House of Representatives from the state led by Hon. Ralph Igbokwe as well as 24 members of the Imo State House of Assembly led by the speaker, Mr Acho Ihim, have called for the conduct of fresh ward and local government congresses in the state, saying both exercises never held as scheduled.
They made the demand while addressing journalists in Abuja shortly after a closed door meeting with the National Working Committee NWC of the party.
“We are here to reconfirm the fact that there was no election held in all the wards in Imo state. There was no congress in Imo State and we are here to reaffirm, to send and demand that an announcement be made for a new date for the ward congresses, local government congresses and then we can now talk about the state congresses.
“As for the discussions we had with the National Chairman, that was an in-house thing but we have affirmed our stand with our governor, we are still standing with our governor.
No one can outsmart Okorocha
“Go to the grassroots, if we are not with him, that is the truth, 24 honourable members of the APC – at house of Assembly and National Assembly, you now know that the governor has not been outsmarted. But in as much as he has the grassroots, he is a beautiful bride. If you don’t want him, fine, you know what that means but I can assure you that there was no congress because if you are an Abuja-based politician or if you are the one that likes his job, why not go to the grassroots and test your popularity. That is it.
Okorocha’s son-in-law qualified to replace him
“You will agree with me that Uche Nwosu is qualified to hold Imo State. One, he is a bonafide citizen of Imo State of Nigeria and he is of age, academically sound and the governor as a person endorsing his son-in-law, he has his preferences. As a person, I have mine too and we all do. You too do. And as such, whoever you want to endorse, you too can endorse.
“For us, for me and for the governor, we have endorsed the son-in-law, Nwosu as a person, pending when the primaries come. Then , people of Imo State will decide.”
Ahize battles governor in Imo West
Meanwhile, Mr. Charles Ahize, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said he would floor governor Okorocha, who has declared to contest for Imo West senatorial district.
According to Ahize, “I am waiting for APC, to give Okorocha the ticket. I will win him with a wide margin. What baffles me is the level of poverty in this zone. I am interested in initiating a sustainable process of youth empowerment and infrastructure development.
“I don’t like injustice. It is the reason we are not succeeding in this society. I have this passion to make sure my people get the deserved attention in governance. I have been using my personal resources to put smiles on the faces of the poor and the needy and if I receive your votes to be a senator, I will expand my generosity.”