By Obinna Ogbonnaya
…..As Nwachukwu faction holds parallel congress in hotel
The 3 man delegate Congress election of the All Progressive Congress APC in the 13 local government council of Ebonyi state witness high turn out of party members as many of them were seen in their numbers at the party Secretariat along the Enugu-Abakaliki express road at about 9am waiting to collect the materials for their different council areas.
The delegate Congress is intended to elect a total
of 39 delegate members from the state for the non elective national convention of the party scheduled to hold in Abuja.
When leadership newspaper visited the party Secretariat at about 8:30am, the leadership of the party was making frantic effort to ensure that the materials were distributed on time to enable party faithful participate actively in the cause of the election.
The State Chairman, Hon Ben Nwobasi while addressing the party members urged them to ensure a free and credible congress and to ensure that no member of the party was disenfranchised.
He said that the party had written to the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, the State Police Command and the State Security Service DSS to monitor the election and ensure a credible and peaceful process.
But as the congresses were going on peacefully in the council areas, another faction of the party led by Eze Nwachukwu conducted its Congress at Nkwegu Ugbala Grand Arena, a hotel owned by the former 2015 governorship candidate of the Labour Party, Edward Nkwegu.
A source close to the party in Ebonyi alleged that the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu hijacked the five man panel, who boarded the same flight to Enugu on Friday and whisked them away on sighting that Nwobasi and his supporters had thronged Enugu airport to receive the panel to an unknown place.
It was also gathered that at the time of distribution of congress materials, the 5-man committee sent to monitor the election from the party National Secretariat were not seen at the party Secretariat, a development that also worried INEC officials who monitored the whole exercise.
When contacted, the factional chairman, Nwachukwu noted that they centralized their venue at the hotel so that all the voters across the council areas would come and cast their votes.
“We started our congress by 1pm at Nkwegu Ugbala grand arena. We have to centralize the venue so that all the voters will come here and cast their votes, we are expecting all our members including the Minister for Science and Technology. Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and other bigwig of the party, Nwachukwu said.
Nwachukwu, however did not give reason why the faction decided to hold its congress in a hotel in Abakaliki instead of the 13 LGAs.
The parallel congress, Leadership gathered was not unconnected to the lingering crisis in the party in the state.
It would be recalled that an Ebonyi State high court sitting in Abakaliki recently summoned the APC national chairman and Secretary, John Oyegun and Mala Buni to appear in person while the duo should not be committed to prison for alleged disobedience to court order and recognizing the Nwachukwu led faction.
Leadership observed that a team of security operatives and INEC were seen at the party secretariat observing the distribution of materials.
The distribution of the materials which commenced at about 10am lasted for about 1hour, thereafter, the electoral committee alongside other party members left for their different council areas.
However, in furtherance to the letter by the national secretary of the party, Hon. Mai Mala Buni to the National chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, informing the commission to monitor the conduct of the congresses, the Nwobasi led executive also wrote to the Resident Electoral commissioner to monitor the congresses across the 13 council areas in the state.
When contacted, INEC official in charge of IVO council area who identified himself as Mr. Agu said the election was ongoing at the the press time.
When Leadership visited Nkaliki Primary School venue of the election in Abakaliki local government area, more than 1000 members of the party turned out for the election.
Speaking to Leadership, Mr. ifeanyi Chukwu Agbo described the exercise as hitch free and transparent adding that all the aspirant were given equal opportunity to test their popularity and commended the party for the credibility of the election.
At Ugwuachara Primary School, venue of Ebonyi Local government council election, it was also observed that the congress commenced at about 12 noon with all the aspirant and voters present to cast their vote.
One of the voters, Mrs. Chineye obaji described the exercise as a huge success pointing out that if every election in the country would witness such transparency, there won’t be any need of anyone going to court to challenge any election.