APC Convention; Thugs throng Venue, as pitch pockets unleash havoc
★Police Teargas, Lock Out Delegates, Electoral Committee Staff, Journalists
It has been a chaotic atmosphere at the Eagle Square, venue of the All Progressives Congress (APC), national convention in Abuja as political thugs loyal to different politicians, as well as hoodlums of all shapes and sizes have beseeched and taken over the non-security entrance leading to the premises.
Our correspondent who is at the venue and witnessed the scenes first hand reports that the main entrance has been made out of bound for non VIPs, forcing some non statutory delegates and accredited journalists, as well as staff of the APC convention Electoral Committee, to use the inner gate through the car park of the Federal Secretariat.
However, political thugs who obviously experienced the same diversion and directive to use the inner gate have made it difficult for validly accredited individuals to gain access as they throng the place in their numbers overwhelming security guards at the entrance.
Following the chaos which almost brought down the metal barriers, many of them including some tag-weilding delegates and journalists managed to gain entry amid stampede.
It took some reinforcement from by-standing security operatives to regain control of the situation.
Having brought the chaos under control, the visibly angry police operatives charged at the waiting crowd with heavy bombardment of teargas just to disperse them.
The highly fouled air led to another round of stampede as the remaining thugs, banners-wielding supporters, delegates, as well as journalists took to their heels in search of a cover from the teargas.
Even staff of the Convention Organising committee were locked out and teargassed despite spotting T-shirts with ‘APC Electoral Committee’ boldly inscribed on them.
Whether the operatives will be able to institute order in the movement of people in and out of the convention venue still remains to be seen.
As at the time of filing this report, the statutory delegates made up of the President, his Vice, Governors and their Deputies, as well as Federal and State Legislators are yet to arrive the venue.
Sources confirmed to this newspaper that series of meetings have been going on, with movements of party heavyweights from the Party Secretariat in Wuse 2 to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in an attempt to forge a common front before hitting the convention ground.
Recall that the President had given the governors and other critical stakeholders an opportunity to come up with a “Unity List’ with a view to having consensus candidates through affirmation at the convention and avoid the rigours of election, as well as its attendant post election litigations.
As at early this morning, the Governors were said to be sharply divided regarding the President’s suggestion, insisting that aspirants should be allowed to test their popularity with the delegates.
Whether the President will be able to prevail in this game of interests is a matter of time as the day progresses.