Battle for Imo: Okorocha, deputy’s war escalates
OWERRI—TENSION yesterday continued to build up in Imo State, after the ward congresses of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state, as commissioners appointed by Governor Rochas Okorocha insisted that the congresses should be rescheduled. This is coming at a time some youths loyal to a faction of the state executive of APC, blocked the party secretariat and threatened to burn down the office. The commissioners who spoke in Owerri, through the Commissioner for Transport, Mr Lasbery Okafor, said: “In view of the foregoing, we state categorically and without equivocation whatsoever that ward congresses did not hold in our wards in our various local government areas. “We therefore request our party, the All Progressives Congress, to quickly reschedule the ward congresses in the state, to enable election of our party executives in our various wards in the LGAs. “We call on the party’s relevant government authorities to investigate the alleged involvement of the National Organizing Secretary and the state party chairman in the entire saga. “We state that we have lost confidence in their ability to conduct, or supervise any future free/fair congresses and therefore demand for their resignation from office.” On the issue of youths who blocked the party secretariat, some said that they are happy with the outcome of the congress while others disagreed. “We want our party to move forward and win the next gubernatorial election in the state. So whatever it is, let there be peace and APC will move forward.” How thugs attacked dep gov, others In a related development, the Imo State Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, has given a graphic account of how he and other top notchers of the party were attacked by thugs at the premises of the party secretariat in Owerri, last Saturday. Madumere, who narrated his ordeal through his Chief Press Secretary, CPS, Mr. Uche Onwuchekwa, also gave the names of other victims of the attack as Sir Jude Ejiogu, Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu, General Gbujie, Chief Felix Idiga, Ichie Best Mbanaso and a member of the APC Board of Trustees, Mr. Jasper Azuatalam. Other victims of the attack, according to the CPS, were the Deputy National Woman Leader, Mrs. Tina Adike, Chief Tony Chukwu, Dr. Goddy Esom Obodo and others. “The deputy governor and others earlier escaped death as armed thugs numbering over 200, unleashed mayhem at the party’s secretariat, but for the quick intervention of armed mobile police officers and other security agents”, the CPS recounted. While confirming that the incident took place at the APC Secretariat, along Okigwe Road, Owerri, at about 12 noon, Onwuchekwa also said that “the attack was not only directed at the Deputy Governor but also circumstantially at many others. He recalled that no sooner had the APC big wigs led by the Deputy Governor arrived the party secretariat than two loyalists of Governor Okorocha (names withheld) stormed the premises with thugs. “They were chanting war songs, disrupting all activities, hauling pebbles at the party stalwarts as they destroyed canopies, chairs and other valuables worth millions of Naira. It was the timely intervention of the mobile police force, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, the men of State Security service among others, who joined hands with the security details of the chieftains that saved the situation, as they found it difficult dispersing the miscreants suspected to be Ohaji-Egbema boys, who were recently granted amnesty by Governor Okorocha”, the CPS said. Take grievances to appeal committee— Oguchienti Meanwhile, aggrieved losers in last weekend’s ward congresses in the state, have been advised to approach the party’s appeal committee, if they so desire. The State Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Nwabueze Oguchienti, who gave the advice in an exclusive telephone interview with Vanguard, also confirmed that the result of the congress “has undoubtedly rubbished the touted invincibility of Governor Okorocha and his political allies. Oguchienti, who wondered why the alleged losers were making so much noise about the outcome of the congresses, equally said the exercise was conducted and concluded successfully and peacefully last Saturday, in the 305 wards of the state. “The last Saturday’s ward congresses of our party was very successful, despite the spirited attempts by some anti-democratic elements among us, to disrupt the exercise”, Oguchienti said. When asked to make definite pronouncement on the fate of the governor and his supporters, the Imo APC image maker asked rhetorically, if he expected to win in that contest. “Did he (Okorocha) expect to win in that contest? He called for the change of party officers at all levels and that is what we have started doing. A coalition of allied forces in the state, humbled the governor. We are only looking forward to the next congresses”, Oguchienti said. He reiterated the party’s commitment, passion, dedication and above all, the peaceful and diligent comportment of party loyalists during the congresses. “The party is also grateful to the maturity and candour of the ward congress committee, who remained unwearied and focused in spite of the desperate efforts of the state governor to hijack the committee through blackmail, intimidation and groundswell financial inducement”, Oguchienti said. He further reasoned that by the outcome of the congress and the spontaneous outpouring of family love and conviviality, the party and their numerous supporters, who had for long, yearned for extrication from the stronghold of one man and his family, have been vindicated. “We now assure Nigerians that Imo APC is more than ever before, poised to demonstrate that APC in Imo State and indeed, in the South East, is a popular party which in the past, had been misconstrued due to the antecedents of one man”, Oguchienti said. Don’t let your children be used for thuggery, Madumere advises parents In his reaction, Imo State Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, regretted the incident of thuggery, which would have marred the exercise but for the quick response of the security agencies. He called on parents and guardians to rise up to the occasion and ensure that their children and wards do not become instruments of violence in the hands of desperate politicians. Collaborating the Deputy Governor’s view, Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu affirmed that the ward congress held successfully. …salutes party faithful for successful congress Apparently bouyed by the upper hand he got against his principal, Rochas Okorocha, Prince Eze Madumere congratulated All Progressives Congress, APC, faithful for a successful ward congresses. In a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Uche Onwuchekwa, Madumere praised the party faithful for coming out en masse to fulfill their civic responsibility of electing into office those who will effectively pilot the affairs of the party, upholding its strong belief in true democracy and loyalty to people’s freedom. We’ll stand on party principles—Ekechi Similarly, the former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in the Okorocha administration, Dr. Theodore Ekechi, frowned at the abduction and detention of the congress committee members for Imo State, under the directive of Governor Okorocha, which delayed the exercise. “The act was uncalled for and an act of desperation. We will continue to stand on the fundamental principles of the party and ensure that its objectives as enshrined in its manifesto and constitution are religiously observed,” Ekechi said. No congress took place in the state—Okorocha Meanwhile, Governor Okorocha’s Chief Press Secretary, CPS, Mr. Samuel Onwuemeodo, claimed that no congress took place in the state, as “the result sheets for the conduct of the APC ward congresses in the state have not been found up to this moment.” Onwuemeodo, who made the feelings of his boss known in a press statement, also expressed worry that the argument over who was in custody of the materials “has been between the man originally posted to the state for the conduct of the congresses, Chief Ini Okorie and the National Organising Secretary of the Party, Chief Osita Izunaso.” Continuing, the CPS said that “when the Police took Chief Okorie to the residence of Senator Izunaso to resolve the issue of who among them had the materials, the man disappeared in Izunaso’s house.” The governor then appealed to the members of the party to “remain calm and avoid actions that could lead to fracas or loss of lives,” adding that he would not like any Imo man or woman to lose his or her life because of politics during his administration, even as he assured that the proper action would eventually be taken. We had successful congress—Sen Uwajumogu Addressing newsmen on behalf of the party stakeholders, Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu said the congresses at the wards were successful. Uwajumogu wondered why it was only Governor Okorocha who was contesting the outcome of the primaries against the backdrop that all party stakeholders’ confirmation that congresses held at their various wards. “Ward congresses of our great party held successfully. We congratulate our people for participating in the congreses. This can be confirmed by our stakeholders and members who are here present. We have the Deputy Governor, Prince Madumere, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba, former SGI, Sir Jude Ejiogu, BoT member of APC, Mr. Jasper Azuatalam, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Nwagwu, Chief Onyemaechi Alan B., Chief Theodore Ekechi among others. A political party is constituted by people and not one man. If all the stakeholders and party chieftains affirmed that our congresses were successful, then there is no way one line voice can be right.” “The stakeholders of the party also condemned in its entirety the use of thugs against the members of the party, citing a monstrous attack against the stakeholders at the APC secretariat where thugs led by Chike Okafor, Kingsley Uju, Kenneth Emelu among others. He revealed the situation was salvaged by the police and other security agencies. The group fingered the Governor’s son-in-law whose campaign vehicles were used freely by the hired thugs to molest and intimidate the party faithful. “The group also frowned at the abduction and detention of the Congress committee members for Imo State under the directive of Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha, which delayed the exercise since they were released after about , describing it as uncalled and an act of desperation,’’ the statement added. Meanwhile, the stakeholders have averred that they will stand for the fundamental principles of the party and ensure that its set out objectives as enshrined in its manifesto and constitution were observed .