The crisis resulting from the conduct of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ward congress in Akwa Ibom State has deepened with the suspension of 17 caretaker chapter chairmen and two lawyers, who are stalwarts of the party.
The State Working Committee (SWC) of the party led by Dr. Ita Udosen yesterday announced the suspension at a review meeting of the ward congress elections conducted in the state by a seven-man Ward Congress Committee (WCC) led by Hon. Yusuff Sherriff Banki from the national headquarters of the party in Abuja.
he state caretaker committee chairman, Udosen, said the action was in line with the party constitution provided in article 21: I, ii, iv, v, vi, vii and ix, on with the suspension was immediately effected.
The party noted with concern an attempt by some of the caretaker committee chapter chairmen and the two party members to allegedly rubbish, undermine and derail the process and integrity of the ward congress elections by issuing a communique with a vote of no confidence on the state working committee on the election day for no just cause.
All the suspended chairmen were directed to handover all party property in their custody to the respective deputy chairman in the affected council areas.
He said: "On the strength of this statement, all deputy caretaker committee chairmen in the affected LGAs should immediately take over the responsibilities of the party as acting chapter chairmen.
"Subject to the provisions of our constitution and the right to fair hearing, the SWC has accordingly set up a disciplinary committee to enable the affected persons appear and defend themselves accordingly.
"The SWC, therefore, uses this opportunity to reiterate its commitment to hand over to the incoming executive committee a virile, strong, united and stable party that no money can sway it out of its supremacy as enshrined in the party constitution."
Meanwhile, the state Publicity Secretary of the party, Nkereuwem Enyongekere, in a statement said at the end of the review meeting, a vote of confidence was passed on the seven-man Ward Congress Committee, the state Caretaker Chairman, Udosen; the state Caretaker Secretary, Mr. Austin Ekanem, and others.
The statement said the SWC lauded the various committees, including the three-man Ward Congress Committees in the 329 wards in the state, leaders and members, for holding first ever most peaceful and successful direct ward congress elections in the history of the state.
The party, however, decried the attitude and conducts of some youths who it said by the time of the state environmental sanitation exercise had already started burning tyres in front of the party state secretariat in the state complaining of the delay in the distribution of congress materials, describing it as uncalled for, unintelligent and unreasonable.