Violence mars ruling party congress

Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- Protests, cancellation and outright violence marred the ward congress of Nigeria's ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), held nation-wide on Saturday, according to local media reports.
The ward congress marked the beginning of a series of intra-party elections that will culminate in the national convention of the PDP in the capital city of Abuja next month.
In the commercial city of Lagos, where two factions of the party had been at loggerheads, two men were stabbed following a disturbance at a congress of ward A1 in the working class Surulere area of the city.
The trouble broke out after party men refused to accept the list of officials purportedly drawn up on the directives of the national headquarters of the party.
Reports from the south-eastern state of Bayelsa said the congress was marred by protesting Ijaw youths, who stormed the party secretariat in Yenagoa and attacked the state's Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Claudius Enegesi.
The youths beat up Enegesi and damaged his car after he was identified as the one standing between them and the victory of their candidates from the Imiringi and Elebele communities.
In Abia State, also in the south-east, Governor Orji Kalu cancelled the congress as well as all political gatherings in the state to avert trouble.
"We will have to proceed with the congresses as soon as all areas of discontentment are amicably resolved by the National Executive Council of the party," he said.
"All other gatherings, except marriages, burials and church services, capable of causing a breakdown of the peace of the state are hereby cancelled.
The various security agencies have been put on red alert," he said.
The situation in the central Plateau State did not fare better when officials of the seven local governments adopted a motion dissolving the state executive council.
In defiance of the state government and the dissolved executive, the local government officials aligned with the national executive to hold the congress.
It could not be immediately confirmed how the disagreement was resolved.
In the south-western Oyo state, the abduction of some party officials by people loyal to the opposing camp delayed the take- off of the election in there.
Loyalists of the two camps engaged in a free-for-all in several areas of Ibadan, the state capital.
The captors reportedly beat the abducted officials.
The problems encountered with the ward congress arose from the feuds that have characterised the activities of the ruling party at local government, state and national levels.
Political analysts have expressed fears that the violence could spill over to the 2003 general elections, even though government has pledged to ensure a peaceful poll.
Meanwhile, President Olusegun Obasanjo has lambasted the governors of the six south-west states of Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Lagos and Ekiti of failure to perform well.
At the congress of his ward at Totoro II in Abeokuta, capital of Ogun State, Obasanjo on Saturday accused the governors, who were elected on the platform of the opposition party Alliance for Democracy (AD), of refusal to co-operate with a national media tour showcasing the "gains" of democracy because they had nothing to show.
"The governors' action is an indication that they have nothing to show the people who elected them," Obasanjo said.
The six governors had jointly resolved not to receive the team, led by Information Minister Jerry Gana, because they were not answerable to the federal government.
The much-criticised tour had taken the team to five of the six geo-political zones of the country before the controversy.

21 Outubro 2001 14:51:00

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