By Ushang Ewa
The ward congresses of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River failed to hold across the eighteen local government areas of the state with confusion trailing the conduct.
CrossRiverWatch gathered that the Ward Congress Committee led by Mr. Stanley Ekezie had upon arrival in Calabar on Friday evening, agreed to shift the congress to today (Sunday) and were to address stakeholders again by 8:00 AM on Saturday.
But, after several hours of waiting, the committee was yet to be seen with members accusing the committee of being hijacked.
Some party bigwigs including the National Vice Chairman South-South of the party, Mr. Hilliard Eta led some members to the hotel where the committee was staying.
The Nation Newspapers reports that Eta said tthey were going to lay siege to the hotel to ensure that the committee members came out to ensure the right thing is done
Others included Okoi Obono-Obla, Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution; Senator John Owan-Enoh, Mr. Cletus Obun, Professor Eyo Etim Nyong, Barrister Venatius Ikem, Honorable Paul Adah and Barrister Utum Eteng.
And, the told the Nation Newspaper that the National Chairman, John Oyegun, and the National Organising Secretary, Osita Izunaso, were behind the crisis in the party in the state.
They all eventually, with the committee members, returned to the party secretariat for a meeting presided over by Eta, where they resolved that the congresses be postponed indefinitely and the election materials be handed over to the Commissioner of Police for custody.
In a resolution at the end of the meeting, signed by Eta, Obla, Owan-Enoh, Eteng, Adah, Nyong, among others, they accused the ward congress chairman, Ekezie of colluding with others to rig the process.
According to the resolution, vigilant members of the party discovered already prepared and filled result sheets and other incriminating document in an SUV vehicle parked in the hotel.
“In the light of the above have resolved that we do not have confidence in the Chairman, Stanley Ekezie, and other members of APC Cross River State Ward Congress to superintend credible free, fair and transparent ward congresses in Cross River,” they said.
Also, Mr. Ekezie who said nothing throughout the meeting declined comment.
However, at about 1:00PM an unmarked white Toyota Hilux pulled over at the secretariat with well-armed Police officials storming the secretariat of the party and shooting into the air.
They then proceeded to block the main entrance and fired teargas canisters into the premises which forced several to flee for their lives.
It is unclear who sent the police officers as those who were in the secretariat are said to have disengaged themselves and later came back.
But, the Assistant Secretary of the party, Mr. Godwin Takus told Daily Post that the reason for not holding the congress was specifically due to the late arrival of the congress committee members and materials.
“The congress was not held in Cross River State. Officers who are to conduct the primaries arrived late yesterday, they didn’t arrive on time on Friday, you know the terrain of Cross River State make it difficult to distribute materials today and conduct the primaries today.
“Distributing materials to the north is over four to five hours talk less of going to various wards and local government. The distribution would be done today and the primaries on Sunday.
“We are of the view that they should distribute the materials today and tomorrow the congress will go on. We need to start on time and finish on time.
“There are speculations that some highly place personalities in the party are trying to shift the goal post to favor themselves by manipulating the people that came in from Abuja.
“There was also manipulation of the lists of persons that are expected to conduct the congress at the wards and local government level.
“We will not allow that to happen. We have put measures to curtail that, we are holding a meetings to look at the issue and talk to the people that came in from Abuja to conduct the congress.
“We would ensure that the lists for the wards and local government committee are submitted by various party structures are not tempered with and the materials reach the expected distribution centers for the conduct of the congress.
“We will ensure free level ground for all contestants so that the persons who will emerge will be acceptable by all,” he said.
As at press time on Sunday, the congresses were yet to begin across areas monitored by CrossRiverWatch.
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