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Photo: Faleke, Bello’s Supporters In Bloody Clash At Abuja APC Hqtrs

Photo: Faleke, Bello’s Supporters In Bloody Clash At Abuja APC Hqtrs

clash4Violence erupted at the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress in Abuja on Monday as supporters of the new Kogi State governorship candidate of the party, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, and James Faleke’s loyalists engaged themselves in a bloody clash.

Faleke was the running mate of the late APC governorship candidate in the November 21 election in the state, Alhaji Abubakar Audu.

Stones, sticks and other missiles were deployed in different directions by thugs, who broke through police barricades in an attempt to force their way into the party headquarters.

As the clash raged, party leaders were holed up in a meeting behind closed doors on the crisis over the choice of a replacement for the late Audu.

Meanwhile APC has submitted Bello’s name as a replacement for the late Audu, which the Independent National Electoral Commission confirmed receiving on Monday.

Although what triggered the violence was unclear as of the time of filing this report, it was learnt that an altercation between two rival supporters led to a free-for-all.

Several vehicles were vandalised and no fewer than five persons were injured in the fracas in which the supporters dismissed the presence of security operatives to engage one another in a violent confrontation.

Some policemen rushed one of the badly injured fighters to an undisclosed health facility.

Police later called for a reinforcement to be able to bring the situation under control.

The meeting of the APC leaders with Bello and Faleke was scheduled to begin at 3pm but did not start until about 4.20pm.

Bello’s supporters arrived at the secretariat first in several buses but the security officials restricted them to the outer parameters of the main entrance gate of the party headquarters.

They entertained themselves with drumming, singing and dancing when Faleke and his entourage arrived at the scene.

As soon as Faleke and his close associates entered the party secretariat, supporters of both men struggled to outdo each other in shouting the names of their principal.

They yelled repeatedly “Sai Faleke” (only Faleke) and “Sai Bello” (only Bello).

This led to a hot exchange of words between the supporters, leading to a violent clash between them.

The fight, which began shortly after 3.30pm, lasted for about 45 minutes before order was restored by the police.

The meeting of the party leaders, members of the National Working Committee and the two contenders was still ongoing as of 9.30pm on Monday.

Those at the meeting included the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai; Senators Dino Melaye, Mohammed Ohiare and members of the John 0digie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee.

Others at the meeting included some members of the Kogi State House of Assembly.

An angry party leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, blamed the party leadership for the crisis.

He said, “We could have handled this better. Why didn’t we call the two men together earlier? Why would you decide on a candidate before calling a meeting of the two parties?

“If you are Faleke, how will you feel when you first read about the party’s decision in the papers before the party calls you for discussions? There should be some respect for crying out loud.”

In the meantime, INEC said on Monday that it had received the request by the APC to replace the late Audu’s name with that of Bello for the supplementary governorship election in Kogi State on Saturday.

The commission’s Deputy Director, Publicity, Mr Nick Dazang, who confirmed this in an interview with journalists, was however, silent on when the commission received the request.

Dazang said, “They (APC) have sent the name of their replacement candidate and he is the runner-up in their primary, that is Yahaya Bello, to the commission.

“The commission is committed to conducting the two elections. That is why in respect of Kogi, in spite of what happened, we came out with a public notice, which invited the APC to submit its replacement candidate for the election.”

Meanwhile, the suit filed by Wada, and his party, the PDP, seeking an order declaring them as the winners of the November 21 governorship election in the state, comes up for mention before a Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday (today).

It was learnt that the suit filed on November 27, had been assigned to Justice Gabriel Kolawole.

Our correspondent also learnt on Monday that the matter would only come up for mention and not hearing on Tuesday as it remained unclear if respondents to the suit had been served and responded to the suit.

The respondents to the suit are INEC, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and the APC.

Wada and the PDP argued in their suit that in view of the death of the APC candidate, Audu, they should be declared the winners of the election as the surviving candidate with the majority of lawful votes cast during the poll.

The plaintiffs also asked the court to compel the INEC to issue Wada with a Certificate of Return.

In a separate application, the plaintiffs also asked the court to restrain INEC from conducting the supplementary election scheduled for Saturday.

The plaintiffs, through their counsel, Chris Uche (SAN), also asked the court to issue an order of injunction restraining the APC from organising or holding a fresh primary for the purpose of substituting their candidate ahead of the supplementary or other election for the Kogi State governorship for 2015.

They also asked the court to declare that APC could not organise and hold a fresh primary for the purpose of the supplementary election in view of the “immutable statutory timeliness provided by enabling sections of the Electoral Act 2010 and the INEC timetable for the Kogi Governorship election”.

They also asked the court to hold that the APC could not lawfully nominate a candidate for the supplementary governorship election slated for the December 5 without a valid and legally cognisable primary of the APC conducted within the mandatory timeliness specified by the Electoral Act.

The case has not been assigned to any judge.

In a related development, the APC youth movement in Kogi State on Monday hailed the NWC of the party on its handling of the replacement for the late Audu.

The Chairman of the APC youth group, Mr Samuel Davies, in a media briefing in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, expressed the youths’ support for the choice of Bello, who they said was the runner-up to the late Audu during the state’s APC governorship primary.

He said, “In this scenario, the person, who came second in the validly conducted primary of the APC, should be allowed to step into the shoes of Prince Abubakar Audu to avoid legal land mines the PDP is already laying ahead of the declaration of the final election result.”


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