By Peter Duru – Makurdi
Stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Gwer East Local Government Area, LGA, of Benue state have petitioned the APC Ward Congresses Appeal Panel in the state calling for cancellation of the last Ward Congresses in 12 out of the 14 Council Wards of the LGA.
In a petition tilted, ‘Complaint Against the Failure to Hold Ward Congresses in 12 Council Wards of Gwer East LGA of Benue state’ signed by 11 stakeholders from 11 Council Wards of the LGA made available to newsmen yesterday in Makurdi, the aggrieved members alleged that a stalwart of the party and House of Representatives aspirant in the 2023 elections (name withheld) and his supporters undermined the conduct of the Congresses in the affected Wards.
They urged the panel to “order a cancellation of the purported ward congresses in respect of the affected 12 Council Wards and direct that a fresh conduct of Ward Congresses in each of the 12 wards be held.”
The members expressed surprise at what transpired at the ‘botched Ward Congresses’ which was an internal party affairs warning that the failure of the party to get it right at that level portends a likely doom for the party in the general elections.
According to the aggrieved members, “in the 12 council wards in respect of which this complaint is made, congresses were not held but rather false returns were made purporting that certain predetermined individuals had been duly elected into the Executive Councils of the party at that level of the party hierarchy.
“However, congresses were duly held in two Council Wards and returns appropriately and duly made. The Council Wards are Akpachayi and Mbabur. The 12 Council Wards where the congresses never held are Mbayom, Mbaiase/Mbakine, Aliade/Mbalav, Ikyonov, Mbakyaan, Ikyogbajir, Ugee, Ikwe, Mbalom, Gbemacha, Shough and Mbasombo.”
They alleged that “in the affected Council Wards, there were flagrant and blatant violation of the basic procedures for electoral contest.
“In most cases, the officials delegated by the party to conduct the congresses arrived late at the designated venues and without electoral materials obviously acting out the script of one of the aspirants for the House of Representatives Gwer East/Gwer West Constituency.
“In some cases where the officials showed up with some electoral materials at all, a brazen heist of snatching and destruction of the materials orchestrated by the aspirant ensured that no congresses took place.
“Several party members were beaten to a pulp and physically removed from the venues for daring to challenge or resist the brazen malpractices perpetrated by the aspirant.
“Indeed, what was meant to be a peaceful intra-party affair was turned into a physical and emotional nightmare. In some, party members who were not willing to collaborate with the aspirant in the rape of the Ward Congresses were simply cowed to submission, thereby paving the way for the perpetration of the electoral fraud.
“We humbly wish to note that the botched ward congresses in Gwer East were only but an internal affair of our great party, the APC; a dress rehearsal to prepare for and put the party in a good stead for the forthcoming elections to various offices in Nigeria.
“Therefore, we make bold to assert that our participation in the elections to come would ultimately result in an exercise in futility if we cannot hold simple in-house selection processes in order to select officers to manage our party affairs and candidates to fly the party’s flags in the general elections. Unless and except we hold free and fair ward and other levels of congresses, our participation in the general elections are doomed to fail.”