Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Alleged attempt by a desperate governorship aspirant to hijack the three-man delegate election of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in Abia State was on Tuesday aborted.
A party source told Ikengaonline that a desperate governorship aspirant had wanted to use undemocratic means to influence the outcome of the exercise but was vigorously resisted.
According to the source, a fake returning officer allegedly hired by the said aspirant was arrested in Bende Local Government Area with fake result sheets, unauthorized APGA stamp and stamp pad.
The suspect was reportedly detained at the Central Police Station Umuahia for interrogations.
Confirming the incident, APGA Leader in the state and member representing Aba South state constituency, Hon. Obinna Ichita, said the suspect and others were allegedly engaged by a desperate governorship aspirant who wanted to hijack the congress.
The lawmaker said “APGA believes in internal democracy that guarantees equal opportunity to all and cannot tolerate any form of impunity.”
Hon. Ichita who is the only remaining APGA member in the State House of Assembly where the party had won 12 out of the 24 seats in 2015, vowed to protect the integrity of the party.
He noted that the incident was a sign that APGA’s ticket had become highly coveted but added that the party would not allow any illegality.
He said: “An incident occurred in Bende LGA where somebody was caught and he claimed that he was engaged by one of the governorship aspirants.
“He was arrested and handed over to the police. The situation would have caused serious crisis but for my intervention as aggrieved party members wanted to lynch the suspect.
“You know the security situation in the land now particularly the South-East is such that no room should be given for escalation. People are growing impatient with undemocratic process.”
The APGA Leader said that the congress was successful and generally peaceful across the state “except in few wards where sponsored hoodlums attempted to hijack the process but were stoutly resisted by party faithful.”
“I wonder how somebody can think that APGA which we nurtured and defended with our blood till this time when the party is about taking over power in the state can be hijacked? It’s not possible!”
Hon. Ichita who said that impunity and other undemocratic tendencies common in other political parties would not be tolerated in APGA, warned desperate politicians in the party to have a rethink “as nobody will be allowed to convert APGA into personal estate.”
Reacting also, the State Secretary of the party, Elder Sunday Onukwubiri, said that the name of the said suspect was not among the returning officers sent to conduct the exercise.
He said that similar attempts were reported in few wards but party members resisted the hired thugs and they fled.
Onukwubiri said that “APGA which has become the beautiful bride in Abia now cannot be allowed to be pocketed by any desperado.”
He said APGA would ensure due process and internal democracy in the process that would produce its candidates for the 2023 elections.
Reacting to the incident, one of the governorship aspirants, Gen. Ijioma N. Ijioma (retd.) who confirmed he saw the arrested suspect , said the incident was a signal that the era of impunity and illegalities was gone.
“The incident tells you that things are not going to be the way it used to be before. People are now more aware. So, people are no longer going to get away with illegalities they used to engage in before.”
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer PPRO in the state, Geoffrey Ogbonna, said he had not received situation report of any such incident.
Meanwhile, some sources have accused some highly-placed chieftains of the party at the centre of conniving with the said aspirant to manipulate the congress in his favour but said they had failed.
The aggrieved party members warned that nobody should be allowed to parade as the owner of APGA in the state, vowing to ensure that all those seeking the party’s ticket for the actualisation of their political ambition receive equal treatment.
Out of the four APGA governorship aspirants in the state, three- Sir Chinkwe Udensi, Gen. Ijioma N. Ijioma (retd.), and Professor Greg Ibe were cleared for the race while Etigwe Uwa (SAN) was disqualified by the Presidential/Governorship screening committee of the party.