The All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairmanship and Counsellorship primaries conducted Thursday across the 23 local governments in Benue State was marred by violence, imposition of candidates, gross irregularities as protests have erupted in some local governments.
In Oju local government, protesters going in the name of APC youths besieged some major streets in the main town of the council, setting bone-fire and blocking some roads also with Buruku, Okpokwu, Ushongo and Gboko Local Government Areas worst hit.
Some of the protesters, who took over some major roads in Oju today, expressed dissatisfaction over the manner the party candidate and erstwhile Sole Administrator of the LG, Austine Okwoche emerged the winner of the APC ticket to bear the party flag in the June 3 chairmanship election.
They said, “his emergence was shroud in an electoral fraud of the highest order.”
The protesters held placards some of which read, “Andrew IDA we want as Chairmanship candidate”, “No to Imposition of Candidate”, “This is not our change”, “We detest dictatorship”, while another screamed “Respect our views”.
They accused the state leader of the party, Senator George Akume of imposing Okwoche over Andrew Ogor said to be the popular candidate with higher votes, expressing the fear that such candidate might lose the secondary election.
Elsewhere at Gboko and Buruku, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the situation got rowdy in some areas with some angry party members attacking others believed to be loyal to the camp accused of imposing candidates.
Among those attacked was the party’s chairmanship candidate for Buruku Local Government Council, Justina Sorkaa, and a former commissioner in the state, Awuese Torher.
Sekav Iyortyom, a former commissioner and an APC leader in Bukuru, who reacted to the protests, however condemned the physical attack on Sorkaa amd Torher.
“The attacks on party members was wrong. There are channels for resolving grievances,” he said.
In Okpokwu local government, the exercise was cancelled by the Police Area Commander after some supporters suspected to be hired thugs threatened and harassed participants including party officials.
However, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. James Ejembi Okefe took over the event to ensure the selection of his preferred candidate, Hon. Ogwuche Olofu Francis.
In Ushongo local government, four of the five aspirants withdrew from the race out of fear for their lives after violence erupted with party delegates beaten and manhandled by thugs.
Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom has constituted a Complaint Committee to handle all grievances arising from the exercise across the state.
The Governor who has been on a business visit to China spoke through his adviser on Politics and Inter-Party Affairs, Hon. Saawuan Tarnongu requested all aggrieved aspirants to forward their written complaints to the Committee for immediate commencement of work.
The Committee is headed by the Deputy Governor, Engr. Benson Abounu.