Some aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from wards in different Local Government Areas of Lagos State on Saturday stormed the party’s state secretariat, demanding cancellation of congresses in some areas.
Members who came separately in chartered vehicles to the APC secretariat, from Ikeja, Ojodu, Ifako Ijaiye, Agege and Onigbongbo among others, chanting songs and displaying placards demanded for fresh congresses in their areas.
Some of the placards read, “No more rigging,” “Say no to manipulation and” “We demand free and fair congress,” among others.
Adesanya Oluwaseyi, the APC Youth Leader, Ward D, Ikeja, who was wounded, bled as he led the protest, and alleged that he and other members of his ward that sustained injuries were beaten up by some thugs.
Oluwaseyi told journalists that they sustained the injuries when they tried to stop an order by a leader of the party in the area that the congress should hold without accreditation.
“This is contrary to the stipulations for the congress. All members were to be accredited before congress, that way, non members will be detected,” he said.
Also, the leader of the protest by Ward D members of the APC in Ojodu Local Council Development Area, Wale Larinde, said they wanted a fresh congress in the ward.
Adewale Olanisimi, from Ward C in Ojodu, said that another chieftain of the party unleashed thugs on the members for refusing to allow him to manipulate the congress.
“You can see our wounds. Even women were wounded as you can see. We were beaten up for protesting what is wrong,” he said.
Speaking to the crowd, Dr Garuba Abari, the Lagos State Chairman of the Congress Supervisory Committee, assured them that all complaints would be investigated and treated.
“My team believes in justice and fair play. We will sit to discuss all the allegations and will communicate our decision to the party.” he said.
The protests came just as some former members of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), said that they did not participate in the congress.
Blessing Okere, a Deputy Governorship candidate in Lagos State in the 2011 general elections, told newsmen in Lagos that “the MOU for merging with Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) was not followed.
“In the Apapa-Iganmu LCDA for instance, we have seven wards with seven members called the G-7 and all the members of the G-7 are made up of all former ACN members.
“The wards have 26 positions and only four slots were given to other parties that merged with the ACN while the ACN took 22 slots for themselves,” he said.
He said that the members who joined from CPC in Lagos State would not partake in any activity of APC unless the national leaders of the party had a meaningful harmonisation of the merger parties.
“We know that Lagos State is was an ACN state but the constitution of the APC says that the dominant former party should have 60 per cent slot while the other parties share 40 per cent. Now we do not know what formula they used for the sharing, it is unfair,’’ he said
However, a former House of Representatives member from Apapa-Iganmu Local Government, Ishaq Lawal , told newsmen at Ward G Apapa/Iganmu LGA that the sharing formula was not in the party’s Constitution.
He said it was an MOU signed by all the parties that merged. “I know that that this disagreement among us cannot shake our party APC as our leaders will surely settle it ; as I said, there is an MOU on ground,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the election in Ward I, Mushin Ajina was also marred with violence as youths in the area engaged themselves with different weapons.
The venue of the congress was earlier changed from Ansar-ud-deen Girl’s High School, Itire to Ronke Street in Itire for security reasons.
APC members in the area had started trooping to the venue as early as 8am with the hope that the election would commence by 9am.
By 10:30am, the youths in the area started fighting themselves when one Councillor elected from the ward was accused of not assisting the youth in the area.
Policemen from Itire Division later arrived and arrested some youths with dangerous weapons.
Addressing the media later in the day, Dr Garuba Abari, the Lagos State Congress Committee Chairman, sued for peace over disagreements on the outcome of the party’s congresses.
He told newsmen that his committee would hear all complaints before the Local Government Congresses, billed for April 15. “There is no looser no winner in this exercise,” he said.
“It is the larger interest of the party that matters and that is why we are trying as much as possible to be very diplomatic and re-conciliatory over the issues. The Committee will accommodate all interests and resolve them,” Abari said.
He said that the party had put in place an Appeal Committee to look into all complaints.
“The aggrieved will be heard at all levels. But I must state that the challenges are surmountable,” the chairman said.
Abari noted that it was not uncommon for people to feel aggrieved in elections but the party would ensure fair play.
The chairman, however, said that the issues from the ward congresses would not stop the upcoming local council congresses