By Our Correspondents,
Aggrieved members of the All progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna State have petitioned the national chairman of the party and the chairman of the state congress appeals committee over what they described as truncated process of local government delegates’ congress held in the state at the weekend.
Addressing a press conference to press home their grievances yesterday, Senator Othman Suleiman Hunkiyi, who led other aggrieved party chieftains to the briefing condemned the way and manner the affairs of the party in the State is being run.
According to the leader of the aggrieved party chieftains, the acting state chairman of APC and some of the stakeholders held a meeting scheduled to hold at the party secretariat at Government House under the chairmanship of the political adviser to the governor.
The petitioners alleged that the acting chairman and the stakeholders subsequently issued a list of local government delegates purported to be the list to be submitted to the state congress committee sent to Kaduna.
The APC chieftains alleged in their petition that “none of the guidelines was respected in the conduct of the ‘kangaroo process’ that produced the list for submission”.
The APC chieftains prayed the state congress appeals committee and the party national leadership to declare the ‘kangaroo process’ a nullity and re-appoint a very credible team of state congress committee for Kaduna State.
The also urged them to convene a duty briefing of the stakeholders briefing at a proper venue on a date to be appointed by the National Working Committee and follow strictly all the guidelines as provided by the NWC of the party for the purpose of local government congress delegates’ elections at all the 23 local government areas of the state.
The petition was signed by Senators Suleiman Hunkiyi, Shehu Sani and chairman of Atar communication, Alhaji Ahmed Tijjani Ramalan.
Thugs Attack Hunkuyi, Shehu Sani, Journalists In Kaduna
Meanwhile, heavily armed political thugs yesterday stormed the premises of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kaduna Council, with dangerous weapons and disrupted a press conference organised by aggrieved members of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state.
The press conference which was being addressed under the leadership of Senator Othman Suleiman Hunkiyi representing Kaduna North senatorial district also had in attendance several APC chieftains.
The thugs alleged to be sponsored, stormed the press centre in their hundreds with dangerous weapons stabbed several journalists, including a camera man with Liberty television who was rushed to the hospital to be treated of several injuries sustained from the attack.
Trouble started when the DPO of Gabasawa police station, CSP Sadique Abdullahi, stormed the venue of the press conference with the thugs who brandished weapons with which they used to inflict injuries on some journalists, forcing everybody at the centre to scamper for their dear lives.
As at the time of filing this report, several properties of the council, including vehicles were shattered.
The state Police commissioner, Agyole Abeh, worsened the already tensed situation when he claimed that those who carried out the destructive act may be members of the press.
Other prominent members of the APC at the press briefing were Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central); Hon Musa Mohammed Soba (Soba federal constituency); the chairman of Atar communication Ahmed Tijjani Ramalan, Alhaji Yaro Makama; Ambassador Sule Bubba; Hon Muhamamed Usman (Kudan/Makarfi federal constituency) and Hon Isah Ashiru, among several other party members.
The APC chieftains were addressing the press to register their grievances over the selection of delegates, which according to them was done contrary to the laid down constitutional provisions for such exercise.
el-Rufai Condemns Attacks
In a swift reaction, Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, condemned the attack on journalists, saying nobody will be allowed to stifle freedom of expression.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Samuel Aruwan, the governor who said he had been briefed on the situation, sympathised with the NUJ and other persons that were harassed by the hoodlums.
Aruwan said, “The Governor directed that the security agencies should investigate and take necessary action against the hoodlums. The Governor also directed security agencies to beef up security at the NUJ secretariat to protect lives of its members.
“The media must not be hindered from carrying out their constitutional and professional obligations. The government of Kaduna State upholds the principles of free speech and respects the freedom of expression. Politics should not be a desperate game. And desperation should not be visited on journalists or any citizen”.
Aruwan added that the government of Kaduna State will not tolerate any attempt to muzzle the press and innocent citizens from exercising their constitutional rights.
Meanwhile, the national body of the NUJ has fingered those it described as some desperate politicians who are bent on destroying journalism and journalists in attack on its Kaduna office.
A statement signed by general secretary of the union, Shuaibu Usman Leman, noted that, while the desperate politicians had continued with their dastardly acts on the media, the most recent development was frightening to the union, as it signals clearly that such attacks on the media are not going to abate so soon.
The statement noted: “Political thugs sponsored by some dangerously reckless members of a political party invaded the Press Centre, venue of a Press briefing by some APC members of the National Assembly and attacked both Journalists and politicians, destroying media equipment and inflicting bodily harm on some Journalists.
“We regret to note that Kaduna is ingloriously attaining notoriety as the deadliest state for Journalists in Nigeria to operate with harassment of Journalists and increased repression of press freedom.
“As professionals whose responsibility is to monitor governance and hold Government accountable to the masses, Journalists now live in perpetual fear of being arrested by security operatives or attacked by faceless assailants without any just cause.
NUJ continued: “It is worth noting that press freedom is key to achieving credible democracy and this freedom includes the right to seek and receive information from all available sources to enable formulation of proper opinions to whomsoever one desires and to do so through whichever means it is feasible to communicate. Such attacks we believe are meant to curtail such freedoms.
“In the light of these unabated attacks and intimidation on Journalists, we call once more on the Police and other Agents of the State, to immediately prioritize issues of security and safety of Journalists not only in Kaduna State but throughout the country as critical components of their programs”.
APC Sets Up Panel To Address Grievances
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State has said its national secretariat has set up a panel to address grievances arising from last Saturday’s local government delegates congresses in the state.
Some aggrieved members of the party including senator representing Rivers South East Senatorial district, Magnus Abe, had raised alarm alleging that the exercise was raddled with manipulation even as he said it never held.
But publicity secretary of the party in the state, Warisenibo Chris, while speaking to journalists in Port Harcourt yesterday, said such grievances will be taken on case-by-case basis and treated on their merits.
Finebone said, “If there are grievances arising from the just concluded local government delegates congresses, they will be taken on case by case basis and looked into on their merits. I think the party has put together a panel that will address such issues as they come up”.
He stated that the congresses were held in all the 23 local government areas of the state in line with the timetable earlier provided by the headquarters of the APC, pointing out that at no time were materials stockpiled in a hotel and handed over to somebody.
The APC spokesman said, “The congresses were held in line with the timetable earlier provided by the headquarters of APC. You may recall that on Thursday, a brief stakeholders’ session was held where a visiting team of national officers of APC urged members to participate in yesterday’s congresses peacefully.
“From the reports we have received so far, the Congress held peacefully across the 23 local government areas of the state at designated locations and venues in line with the schedule of the party.
“Every local government area had the list of delegates that participated. They have the names of party officers that conducted the congresses. They also have names, visuals, and audio evidences of congresses and INEC officers that witnessed each of the congresses.
“This set of congresses was not supposed to be held in Port Harcourt where the party headquarters is. Rather, they were supposed to be held in the local government areas. That of Port Harcourt City was held at a designated location and none was to be held at the headquarters as per its level. Rather, they were all designated to be held at the local government level.
The statement made available to LEADERSHIP further noted: “For anyone who didn’t go to his local government area, of course, the person is likely not to know what happened.
“We have all the evidences and we are still receiving audio, visual and pictorial evidences of the congresses. All those statutorily required to participate in the congresses, including INEC officials, participated. That is what is important to us as a party.
“There was no situation where materials were stockpiled at Novotel and issued to anybody. We dealt with such logistic issues earlier, from four days before the day of the congresses. So, there was nothing left to be dealt with”.