Ward congress: Protest rocks party secretariat over petitions on outcome of result

•Party members engaged themselves in fierce battle

Osun State secretariat of the All Progressives  Congress (APC) was on Saturday thrown into pandemonium when hired thugs unleashed  terror on some aggrieved party members who stormed the secretariat to submit petitions in protest against the ward congress held in the state two weeks ago.

The petitioners who were in hundreds and stormed the party secretariat to register  their grievances against the concluded ward congress they described as stage managed and manipulation by the leadership  of the party in the state, were violently beaten by the thugs the petitioners claimed to have been sent by the power that be in the state.

The thugs who arrived the secretariat around 10.00 am of the day, prevented many of the aggrieved members from submitting  their petitions to the committee sent to the state by the National secretariat of the party from Abuja to entertain  their complaints.

Mostly attacked by the attackers were members of a group within the APC called The Osun Progressives (TOP) who were critical and hell bent that, the exercise (ward congress)held in the state was not conducted in a democratic way.

One of them who simply identified himself as Adesina told our reporter that, “We were at the APC Secretariat Osogbo to submit our petitions against  the ward congress to the Appeal Committee when the thugs who put on Oyetola 4+4 face cap arrived the party secretariat in batches launched attacks on the APC members.”

“The attack started as the thugs told some APC members who put on TOP face caps to remove them from their heads as the secretariat is for Oyetola’s people.”

Investigations revealed that, the hoodlums were later being engaged by the party members who mobilised themselves in a formidable group to resist further harassment from the hoodlums and in the process, many of them sustained various degrees of injuries.

However, in a counter claim, the Oyetola group alleged that, it was “Members of Osun All Progressives Congress (APC) loyal to former Osun Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, operating under the name, The Osun Progressives, TOP, that invaded the State Party Secretariat to chase away the members of the Appeal Committee, who had arrived the state, yesterday.

According to one of those who identified  himself as Lukuman said, “The TOP group had submitted its petitions to the party secretariat in Abuja, which were in turn delivered to the Appeal Committee for scrutiny.”

“But rather than allow the committee to do their job, TOP members, led by its Chairman, Elder Adelowo Adebiyi and Gbenga Akano, led armed thugs to the party secretariat, beating everyone in sight, especially those warring any cap or T-shirt that identify them with the Governor of the state.”

In his swift response to the allegation that, he led thugs to the state secretariat to beat whoever that put on Oyetola’s cap OT T-shirt, the chairman of TOP,  Reverend Adelowo Adebiyi described the claim  as untrue and maintained that, no APC Appeal committee  member was attacked in the state. 

The chairman in a statement in Osogbo said “My attention has been drawn to a malicious statement and photograph being circulated by some unscrupulous persons serving in the Government of Governor Gboyega Oyetola claiming that I Elder ‘Lowo Adebiyi, led some thugs to attack members of the Appeal Committee sent by the All Progressive Congress from the heaquarters of the party to look into the issues bordering on the last ward congress in Osun.”

“For the avoidance of doubt, thousands of very loyal and committed APC members today stormed Osogbo, the state capital and the secretariat of our party to register their protests over the last ward congress which was held two weeks ago and to submit their petitions ward by ward to the committee.”

“They were also there to let the Appeal Committee be aware that the so-called Consensus arrangement which Governor Oyetola and Prince Famodun and their cohorts opted for was their own arrangement and not those of the majority of our party members in the state.”

“Where did the issue of leading thugs to attack Appeal Committee members arise? What those spreading that propaganda wanted to hide is the fact that the thugs they sent to threaten thousands of the APC members who were at the secretariat were promptly overpowered and they had to flee when they realized that the job they were sent to do was an impossible one.”

“I hereby challenge those behind the misleading statement and photograph in circulation to name the particular Appeal Committee member who was attacked.”

“As for us, we are determined to ensure that this party is not allowed to sink the way the Oyeola and his co-travelers are going.”

“I hereby call on all well-meaning and right-thinking Nigerians and media houses to disregard the poorly executed propaganda for that is what it is.

Speaking with newsmen on the development, Ambassador Obed Wadzan, Chairman Ward Congress Appeal Committee, said, “We are members of the APC Ward Congresses Appeals Committee. We are also members of the APC.

“We have come from the National Headquarters, Abuja to specifically come and look at the appeals and petitions from members of the APC in Osun State. We have come to assure you that we are all members of the same family. All of you have contributed to the building and consolidation and strengthening of the party.”

“All of you are leaders of this party in your respective local governments, wards and units. We are here to assure you that we will be fair, just and we will look at the petitions that you bring to us with all the sense of responsibility that is expected of the national level.”

“We will like to assure you that we will not leave this place without attending to all the petitions you have brought. That is the reason why the National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Committee led by His Excellency, Mala Buni have delegated us here. We are agents of the national party and you are members of the APC.”

“All of us are doing the same thing. We want you to go back home with this sense of assurance that this party is your own, that the right thing will be done, that we will continue to maintain hold on Osun State but it cannot be done in an atmosphere of rowdiness. We need you people to calm down. If you do not allow us to calm down, we wil not be able to listen to you. So, as we have explained, we will be inviting those that have written the petition one by one to come in.”

“We will ask them, you have written this petition, speak to your petition, we will give you time, we will listen to you, we will also be taking notes. If we have questions to ask you, we will ask you. Please, we need calmness. We are all members of the same party. We are not here to fight ourselves. We are all here to make sure that the right thing as prescribed by the National APC Constitution and the guidelines are followed.”

“We want to tell you as you are already aware that your election is coming up next year and we have to make sure that this family remains one so that we will be able to win the election.”

“When you go back home, go back with this message that we are here to ensure that fairness, justice, equity is done and make sure that we are one in the same family.”

“In the APC family, we are meant to have disagreement, that is why the national level in their own wisdom said this committee was sent across the states to look into the situation of things.”

“It depends on what we have on ground. If we have a lot of work to do, we will stay till we finish. This is what we are here to do and we will do it well. The national body did not give us particular days, it depends on what is on ground and the number of appeals that we have on ground.”

“The appeals that we had from the national level given to us are 32.”

“The aggrieved members should be calm. They should go back home assured that APC is one. The national level has delegated us to look into this petition and the national level has told us to make sure that every member is carried on board.”

“If there are petitions here, we will look into them. The only thing we require is that let the petitions be in writing so that we can submit it along with our reports to the National Secretariat.”

“We have said that let everybody that has petition to bring it today. Let them bring it and we will record it.”

However, governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola, has again appealed to the members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), in the state to give peace a chance and allow the ongoing appeal process run its full course. 

He also condemned what he termed the “unruly behavior” exhibited by some aggrieved members of the party at the APC Secretariat in Osogbo, saying no sane society would condone any act of lawlessness.

The governor has therefore directed security operatives to take charge of the party secretariat to prevent any further break down of law and order.

Oyetola who sympathised with individuals who sustained injuries, called on security operatives to fish out perpetrators and ensure justice was served. 

In a press statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ismail Omipidan, on Saturday, the Governor noted that Osun and its people are known for peace and urged all to avoid acts that could tarnish the State’s reputable image.

He further noted that political intolerance was injurious to the unity and collective peace of the State.

While appealing for calm, the Governor also said that government would not tolerate any act of criminality or violence in any part of the State under the guise of politics or any guise whatsoever. 

“I appeal to party members, especially those who have already filed their petitions before the Appeal Committee over the conduct of the last Ward Congress in the State to sheathe their swords and toe the line of peace and the law.

“Since the matter is already before the Appeal Committee, they should allow the process to run its full course. We are known for peace as a people. We should do all in our power to sustain that recognition in our collective interest,” the Governor said.

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