Members of the All Progressives Congress, Bayelsa State chapter, suspected to be loyalists of the expelled Chairman, Chief Tiwei Orunimighe, on Monday locked down the state in protest against Orunimighe’s expulsion from the party.
The protesters, comprising some wards’ chairmen, party chairmen of some local government areas, youths, women and elders of the party, said they embarked on the demonstration to prove to the national headquarters of the party that APC in Bayelsa was not for sale.
They described the expulsion of Orunimighe, his deputy, Eddy Julius and the Secretary, Marlin Daniel, as a product of ”misinformation”, insisting that Orunimighe remained the Chairman of the party in the state.
The APC in Bayelsa has been enmeshed in lingering crisis as loyalists of the party leader and former Governor of the state, Chief Timipre Sylva, and that of Orunimighe, had been battling for the soul of the party in Bayelsa.
However, the crisis worsened on Friday when the national headquarters of the party, wielded the big stick with the expulsion of Orunimighe, earlier suspended last Wednesday.
Orunimighe and two other principal officials of the party were expelled for alleged anti-party activities on Friday through a letter signed by the National General Secretary of the party, Mai Mala Buni.
Buni in the letter had claimed thata the expulsion followed the August 3, 2017 recommendation by the National Working Committee and ratified by the National Executive Committee of the party that Orunimighe, Julius and Daniel should be expelled from the party.
Among the notable members of the party, who spoke during the protest were a former Senatorial Vice-Chairman of the party, Chris Alagoa; a former leader of the party, Livinus Opuakpa; the Chairman of all the local governments chairmen, Phil Erepade and a chieftain of the party, Jephthah Iyekoroghe.
Iyekoroghe, who spoke on behalf of ward chairmen, said it was unfortunate that the party found themselves in such a situation, especially at a critical time when they should be preparing for 2019 and 2020.
He said, “There is need to join this vanguard to forestall this misinformation that is making the round. It is unfortunate that we find ourselves in this situation at this critical time when we should be preparing ourselves to win elections come 2019.
”Unfortunately, the national headquarters that has taken this decision to suspend our constitutionally elected Chairman, deputy and the chairman. If they have done so, they must have been misinformed deliberately by those who are seeking the soul of this party to see that they trade with it, destroy it so that we will go nowhere as far as APC elections are concerned in this state.
”We are by this protest telling all Bayelsans, and indeed all Nigerians, that APC is not in any crisis. As far as we are concerned, nobody has been suspended, because the suspension of any members of executives must emanate from the state party and communicated to the NWC and the NEC for ratification.”