The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday formally inaugurated substantive chairmen of 35 state chapters of the party with a warning that any one of them found to have emerged through unfair practices would be thrown out.
The chairmen from 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were formally endorsed by the party, while Kaduna and Katsina States were yet to conclude their congresses.
The inuaguration was interrupted by a group from Abia State who stormed the hall rejecting the process adopted to elect their state chairman which they claimed was fraudulent.
While performing the inauguration which took place at the party headquarters in Abuja, the interim National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, said the nationwide congresses were part of the restructuring exercise to strongly position the party ahead of the 2015.
Akande acknowledged that there were complaints over the conduct of the congresses in some states
He said the leadership was aware of protests and complaints over some state congresses, assuring that it will investigate the allegations and sanction any chairman found to have emerged in an improper way.
"We have complaints on the congress and about the process through which some of you emerged. We will not sweep these complaints under the carpet. We are going to continue investigations into the congress exercise. Those of you who emerged not in accordance with the guidelines of the party would be thrown out," he said.
Akande assured the protesting members that justice would be done.
"Further investigations will be carried out and we will correct all wrongs," he said.
He said the party leadership would make public the convention guidelines in due course, adding that the convention committee was working to ensure that the final stages of the restructuring process is completed.
Akande listed a few important milestone achieved by the party leadership since inception, to include membership registration and nationwide congresses.
"It has never happened in any party before but we have done it. We now have membership data at various centres across the country. In another two or three months, all our members will be able to see their names on the Internet and you can register as a party member online and can withdraw it if so desired.
"We are trying to build a party of the new generation. The second mandate is that we should restructure the party and in order to achieve this we needed to conduct congresses. We have conducted congresses at the ward, local government and state levels.
Just as the names of new state chairmen of the party were being called, a group of protesters made up of mainly stakeholders of APC from Abia State besieged the venue, the conference hall at the party's headquarters, demanding that no one from the state should be inaugurated.
Speaking on the crisis trailing the state congress in the state, a party stalwart and the National Vice Chairman for South-east, Chief Anyim Nyerere, said the national congresses committee had earlier ruled that the state congress be put on hold and that the one done before had been cancelled.
He said for anyone to come to Abuja to say that congresses had been conducted was an aberration.
One of the aspirants for the Abia State chairmanship, Hon. Donatus Nwankpa, who led the protest, told journalists that the congress committee tasked with supervising the exercise in the state that the state congress was cancelled and that another exercise is going take place.
According to him, the members were surprised when the some people sneaked into the state to conduct an illegal congress without the knowledge of other contestants.
"We were told by the national committee that everything on Abia congress has been put on hold and cancelled . They told that they are setting another panel to conduct fresh congress. But we were surprise when the same people who had a case with us sneak into the state conduct illegal congress. We are here to tell the party leadership that members from Abia State are not part of the inauguration," he said.
On his part, the man whose inuaguration as the state chairman of Abia State APC, was being protested, Mr. Fabian Okonkwo, described those opposing his election as merely bad losers.
"The cause of the uproar was merely from those who failed when the congress took place from the ward congress to the state congress. They are making noise in Abuja but we are telling them that APC in Abia is not run in Abuja, they should come home to the grassroots and be on ground, " he said.