The local government Congresses of the All Progressive Congress (APC), was held on Saturday and early Sunday morning amidst high tension and fear of possible hijack of the exercise in some Local Government Areas by desperate party big wigs in Gombe State.
A violent clash between factional youth groups of the party in Yamaltu/Deba Local Government Area of Gombe State resulted in the killing of one Salihu Dage following disagreement after the party Congress.
Prominent among complaints gathered by our Correspondent were that some highly placed party men planned to plant their stooges against the wishes of the greater majority of party faithful.
Investigations by our correspondent revealed that the party in all the 11 local government areas had its members pitched against each other especially those loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari and those perceived to be against the 2019 reelection bid of the President.
In few of the venues visited by our Correspondent, it was observed that there was heavy disagreements by delegates and officials and in some cases, it took the intervention of security men and Congress committee officials to settle disputes.
However, it was observed that the disputes were between those struggling for recognition, those seeking elections and those struggling to be relevant in the next political dispensation.
It was also alleged that the list of would be party executives had already been signed, sealed and awaiting delivery to the national secretariat of the party, an action that was said to have got party supporters spoiling for war as many of them believed they had been schemed out.
A source revealed that few hours to the commencement of the exercise, a list of party executive members, mostly those holding positions in the 11 local government areas had been drawn up and those whose names were in the alleged list had vowed to dump the party and join forces with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and wait for APC in the 2019 general election.
But speaking to newsmen before the commencement of the exercise, the chairman of the Congress committee, Suleiman Kawu Sumaila, dismissed the insinuation of tension, imposition or fabrication of results.
According to him, “There is no tension in any of the local governments but I know elections will take place in some of the local government areas, because there are people that bought forms to contest for various positions.”
While maintaining that materials had been distributed to all the 11 local government areas, he vowed that nobody will force him into doing what is contrary to the party’s guidelines, stressing that elections will hold according to laid down procedures.
He said, “We have distributed all the materials, we have posted all the electoral officials to their various areas, and I am sure everything will be conducted peacefully’.
However, confirming the death of Dage, the Gombe State Police Command said three other persons sustained injuries after the heated debate.
Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO) of the Command, DSP. Mary Malum, said investigation is being carried out over the root causes of the fracas which occurred between the party youth.
She said the incident occurred after the peaceful conduct of the party congresses adding that three persons have so far been arrested.
An eyewitness, Sani Deba, who spoke to reporters said Salihu Dage was killed as a result of fighting after voting had ended on Saturday. He added that five people sustained injuries during the violent fracas.
Apart from the tension created within the party faithfuls, the APC Local Government Congresses were conducted peacefully across the state.