Benue APC moves to reconcile members planning to quit

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Less than two weeks after the All Progressives Congress, APC, won every seat in the council polls in Benue State, some members are threatening to quit the ruling party over alleged imposition of candidates.

Members said there was discontent within the party, and accused former Governor George Akume of imposition of candidates.

The party initially denied the claims, but later told this newspaper a committee had been set up to reconcile aggrieved members.

One federal lawmaker who asked not to be named, said the development had led to a serious crisis and may factionalise the APC in the state.

The source said the party primaries were stage-managed after the candidates for the council polls had been handpicked by Mr. Akume and his loyalists.

“A lot of the local government areas in the state did not hold their primaries but names were submitted to the state electoral body,” he said.

He said although the governor, Samuel Ortom, promised change, his government was being perceived even by party members as worse than that of Gabriel Suswam, the immediate past governor.

“Many stakeholders of the party are gearing up to leave the party,” he said.

He lamented the refusal of the national body of the party to intervene in the crisis.

“The National body of the party does not seem to be conversant with the situation in Benue,” he added.

He said to underscore the level of grievances, more than 20 lawsuits were pending in the courts over the elections.

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He cited the instance of the chairmanship candidate for Gwer-West LG, Francis Ayagah, who has been dragged before a Makurdi Magistrate Court for allegedly receiving salary after resigning from the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to contest in the election.

He alleged that Mr. Ayagah resigned his appointment on the March 31, 2016 but was still being paid four months after.

According to him, Ayagah’s salary account with First Bank was credited for the months of April ,May, June and July last year, after which he alleged that a cashier in SUBEB fraudulently issued receipts to the APC candidate for returning the money to the coffers of the State Government.

But the State APC spokesman, Berger Alfred, denied knowledge of crisis in the party.

“Benue APC is in peace,” Mr. Alfred said.

“We shouldn’t be talking about APC primaries now because elections have come and gone and we have moved on.”

The party spokesman, however, said the state chapter had set up committees to reconcile aggrieved members.

He described any claim of crisis as “a figment of imagination of the opposition who want to see the downfall of APC in Benue”.

On the several cases in court, he said “most of those cases that were filed in the court have been withdrawn.”

The APC had won all the 23 local government chairmanship seats in the council elections.

The party also won all the councillorship positions in the 276 wards of the state with some of the candidates returned unopposed as the opposition PDP did not participate in the process due to the leadership crisis in the party.

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