POLICE in Enugu have taken over the State Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC), following the yesterday’s open clash between loyalists of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeamaand the supporters of the state Chairman of the party, Dr Ben Nwoye.
It was gathered that a group led by Deacon Okey Ogbodo, a strong ally to the Minister, in a fresh bid to forcefully take over the secretariat, was resisted by Nwoye’s supporters which attracted the state Commissioner of police, Danmallam Mohammed, who personally stormed the secretariat with his men to avert escalation of the fracas.
Ogbodo, and his group had on arrival at the Secretariat met the State chairman of the party, Dr Ben Nwoye and his group, as well as some youth groups who were holding a prayer programme for the success of President Muhammad Buhari in South East, ahead of the general elections.
A hot argument ensued between the two groups over who should vacate the secretariat for the other, leading to flared tempers and shoving of each other by the state chairman and Ogbodo.
But the quick intervention of security personnel averted what could have resulted in bloodshed as both factions poised for a show down.
Speaking with newsmen after the scuffle, the state chairman of the party, Nwoye called for the arrest of the Minister of Foreign
Affairs, accusing him of masterminding the invasion of the party secretariat.
Dr Nwoye said, “Okey Ogbodo should be investigated for the crimes he has committed, and Minister of Foreign Affairs should be
arrested, investigated, prosecuted and if found guilty, punished for the crimes he has continued to perpetrate against the citizens of Enugu state.”
Nwoye alleged that aside sponsoring the invasion of the party secretariat, destruction of furniture and vital documents, and destabilization of the party, the Minister had masterminded the filing of seven lawsuits against his leadership all in a bid to remove him as chairman, but all to no avail.
But in a reaction, Ogbodo, denied any wrongdoing, declining to make further comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, members of the State caucus of the party rose from a meeting at Nike Hotel, Enugu on Wednesday night endorsing
indirect/consensus method for electing candidates in the forthcoming primaries in the state ahead of 2019 general elections.
The body which included members of the State Working Committee (SWC) and elders of the party in line with the party’s constitution took the decision during its meeting with aspirants, leaders and other stakeholders.
The state SWC led by Dr Nwoye, had a few weeks ago adopted the indirect or consensus mode after its meeting at the party secretariat, a decision that was countered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, during a parallel stakeholders meeting he convened in Enugu, advocating for direct primaries.
Onyeama’s position, generated mixed reactions as the majority of the stakeholders aligned with the SWC’s position, even as the state chairman, Dr Nwoye, insisted that the Minister does not have the constitutional power to convene such meeting or take a decision on any critical issue affecting the party on behalf of members.
Dr Nwoye, had while briefing the caucus and aspirants on the guideline and preparations for the forthcoming primaries as well as the reason why the SWC settled for indirect or consensus, described those against the mode as enemies of the party, who don’t have its interest at heart.
The chairman explained that the direct primaries as being advocated by the Minister were capital intensive and cumbersome, insisting that the state does not have the financial capacity to go for the mode which according to him, would gulp about 400 million naira.
Nwoye said: “indirect primaries will be cheaper and easier when compared to the direction which will require so much logistics.
Briefing newsmen on the position of the caucus to newsmen after the meeting, chairman of the occasion and former Governor of old Anambra state, Dr Jim Nwobodo, represented by immediate past governor of Enugu state, Chime, said the explanation of the SWC was quite understandable and reasonable hence they adopted it.
Before the meeting endorsed the indirect mode, the chairman had earlier, put it to a voice vote, and about 99% of members in attendance responded in the affirmation.
Nwobodo, who maintained that Enugu APC has no faction, said the only duly and legitimately elected state chairman of the party known to all is Dr Nwoye, just as he urged the executive committee in the state to ensure that it put in place an electoral process that will throw up credible candidates that has the capacity to win elections in 2019.