Delta APC crisis deepens as chairman, secretary feud
• Trade accusation of financial malpractices
The crisis rocking the Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has taken a new dimension as the chairman, Prophet Jones Erue and secretary, Comrade Chidi Okonji have traded words in public.
This, observers argued, does not only expose the schism within the party but also makes bare the deep-rooted animosity among the leadership.
The crisis is traceable to when the secretary was suspended by the party for allegedly collecting N600,000 party grant from the PDP government led by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. The grant was also given to other parties in the state.
The state chairman claimed that the secretary collected the grant after forging his signature and without the knowledge of the party, an offence for which he has requested a criminal investigation.
The development enraged the leaders of the party in the state, which prompted to the suspension of Okonji.
However, Okonji, not willing to go down alone, alleged wrongdoings on the part of the chairman. He requested the State Executive Committee (SEC) to ask the chairman to account for the N13.5 million Christmas cash gift to the party.
Besides, he contended that the chairman retained for his private use a bus that was donated to the party and that the periodic assistance to the party had not been properly accounted for.
The chairman who denied the allegations argued that secretary’s accusations were meant to smear his character as well as a calculated and desperate attempt to divert attention from the gravity of his criminal actions.
He denied ever receiving N13.5 million Christmas money, insisting that the secretary “is allowing his imagination to run amuck”.
“To be fair, we made request to party leaders to support the party at Christmas; and to also help us in sorting out crucial but pending party requirements. Based on this, we received some funds and I extended my sincere thanks to them for their generosity.
Regrettably, the funds we realised were short and inadequate. I am not at liberty to state the details here, but suffice to say that it is below the figures that Comrade Chidi Okonji is suggesting. Numerous financial commitment of our party also had to be attended to, and it was quite difficult for our executive to offer any significant gift at Christmas. The bit we could muster we shared,” Erue said.
Concerning the party bus, Erue explained that the bus was safe and had remained under his care not only for safe-keep but to prevent misuse. He said fellow state officers were aware, adding that the bus would be put to better and effective use when the party office is secure.
He equally refuted the claim by Okonji that he received N5 million monthly to run the party saying they were wild speculations even though he admitted receiving periodic assistance from party leaders.
The party chairman said he has never used his account to siphon party funds explaining that the account of the party is operated in accordance with the “extant guidelines and reality of politics.”
Furthermore, he said that the party has a treasurer and financial secretary that are abreast with the day-to-day workings of the party.
Erue said Okonji’s allegations are libelous and that he is waiting for the outcome of the ongoing investigations, which will determine his next line of action.
Also, the chairman of the party in Warri South, Prince Valentine Egbe, maintained that what Okonji did by allegedly forging the signature of the state chairman and using the party logo and letterhead to collect money from the PDP government, amounted to “fraudulent and anti party activity.”
He said with such act, Okonji has brought the party to disrepute by fraternizing with a rival party and that the state executive of the party did the right thing by suspending him in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
He said the police is presently investigating the forgery of the signature of the state chairman and that Okonji was on the run and refusing to assist the police in the investigation.
Egbe who is also chairman of APC local government chapters’ chairmen in the State, denied that there was division in APC as a result of the incident stressing that the latest development was what every party would pass through to become a virile party.
According to him, the so-called crisis in the party would not affect its fortunes ahead of the preparations for the 2019 elections, as the resolution of such crisis would make the party stronger.