ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
Faction of the All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa State loyal to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has claimed that it conducted a peaceful and rancour-free ward and local government congresses in the 105 wards and eight LGAs in the state.
But the congresses which were largely attended by the Sylva faction, were rejected by the faction loyal to a former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri.
The Lokpobiri faction described the conduct of the congresses as a sham and a violation of subsisting orders of the court.
It was gathered that the congresses which were allegedly well attended held on Friday and Saturday with the adoption of a consensus mode of election.
While Sylva was reportedly absent due to an official engagement outside the country, Chief David Lyon, Vice Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, South-South Zone, was seen at the party secretariat at the end of the exercise.
It was also gathered that officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security personnel were on the ground to conduct the elections.
In Brass, home council of Sylva, Mr Baribote Solomon emerged as the newly-elected chairman of APC in Brass LGA.
The Caretaker Secretary of the APC in Bayelsa State, Comrade Alabo Martins, confirmed the conduct of the congresses on the telephone, adjudging the exercise as peaceful and held in line with party regulations.
He also confirmed the participation of officials of the INEC in ward and LGA congresses.
But Mr Sunday Frank-Oputu, a chieftain of the APC and member of Lokpobiri faction led by Hon. Ebierien Fala-Itubor faulted the conduct of the congresses.
He described it as a sham and a violation of subsisting orders before the Bayelsa State High Court and the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
According to Frank-Oputu, the conduct of the ward and local government congresses is a clear affront to the rule of law and disrespect to the order of the court, dissociating the loyal party members from the actions of Sylva and the suspended caretaker secretary of the party in the state.
Frank-Oputu, a party leader from Southern Ijaw LGA, called on the party leadership to sanction Sylva and Alabo Martins over the conduct of the congresses against subsisting court orders.
He said: “In Bayelsa State, we had an interlocutory injunction subsisting. And as law abiding party members, we were not part of the sham conducted and called congresses.
“It is shameful and unreasonable that Sylva, because of his ambition, would go against the court order and tender his prepared lists to the national leadership. We learnt that they have arranged with some members of national leadership to accept the illegality.
“We are warning in strong terms that they should not drag Bayelsa to the repeat of what happened in Rivers and Zamfara states. We are also warning the national leadership that if they mean well for the party, they should sanction Sylva and his cohorts for disobeying court order and doing what no one has ever done in the history of politics in Nigeria.
“We all know that when a committee is sent for congresses and after the congresses, appeal committees are set up and they will visit the states for complaints submitted and they will make the report available to the national.
“They will ratify that one before you go to the next level of local government congresses. And at the local government congresses, even if it is by consensus, there is going to be voice votes by the elected delegates from the wards.
“This is because once the ward delegates are elected, they automatically become the delegates for all other congresses. But in this case, can you do ward congresses on Friday and do LGA congresses on Saturday? That shows they don’t know what they are doing.”
Frank-Oputu said the punitive measure against Sylva and Alabo would clear the allegation against the party leadership that the illegal conduct of the congresses was carried out with the connivance of the National Caretaker Chairman and Governor of Yobe state, Mai Mala Buni.
He called on party loyalists, true progressives and people of the state not to be daunted by the actions of Sylva and his cohorts, assuring them that the best was yet to come.