By NBF News

Ahead of its planned National Convention shifted twice to September 17, a fresh leadership crisis is rocking the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) as thugs allegedly aided by policemen stormed and sacked the convention committee office located within Agura Hotel in Area 7, Abuja.

The armed policemen and thugs numbering about 10 were said to have invaded convention committee rooms and manhandled the Committee Secretary, Chief Lazinus Nwambe with the men in mufti among the team claiming that they had been appointed to take over from the convention Committee, headed by the Governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Gaidam.

The ugly incident came in the wake of a disenchantment by the state party chairmen over 30 of whom had signed for the dissolution of the National Working Committee of the party headed by Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke over alleged leadership ineptitude and anti-party activities.

Daily Sun findings showed that the committee secretary and a few of party faithful caught in the web of the attack put up some resistance which led to disruption of peace within the hotel premises.

However, it was learnt that following the report of the incident to the police, the Inspector General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo, later identified the policemen as fake, having investigated and discovered that no policeman was deployed for such an assignment.

Chief Nwambe told Daily Sun that he reported the matter to the police but to his chagrin, 'the police IG told us point blank that the policemen that terrorized us were fake policemen, yet they were armed.

'They wanted to take over the Convention Committee Secretariat by force saying they have been appointed to take over the secretariat by the party, but we insisted that it couldn't happen because only the National Executive Committee (NEC) could make such decision and that at no time was it made known to us, the Committee members, that we have been changed.

'We smelt rat and we insisted they won't have their way and we resisted them, it was a big battle, they threatened to shoot but we manage them, they scattered everywhere but we took things easy', he explained.

It was gathered that the move by state party chairmen to edge out the national chairman and a few others in the NWC had prompted an emergency meeting of the NEC scheduled to hold on September 2, 2010.

The state party Chairmen's move, coordinated on the platform of state Chairmen's Forum, sources revealed was spare headed by the Imo State Chairman, Vitalis Ajumbe.

Several efforts made to have him speak on the development proved abortive as calls made to his mobile phone never rang. In his comment, National Chairman of the party, Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, in an interview with Daily Sun denied any culpability in all the allegations levelled against him. He confirmed that it was true that some elements compiled signatures of state party chairmen calling for the removal of the NWC members headed by him, but that the state chairmen at a meeting last Monday denied the compilation of the signatures, saying their signatures were forged.

One of the aggrieved party members and the ANPP governorship aspirant in Lagos, Chief Yomi Tokoya, said the party chairman and his cohorts were alleging that the chairman had betrayed the party enough. He stated that the manner in which the National Convention of the party was shifted was an indication that the executive members did not want to go.

Said he: 'We just have to remove this old man, he has done enough damage to this party. They don't want to go, they have been postponing the convention date and the state party chairmen are angry, that is why they have signed for his removal, wait and see what will happen at our next meeting.

The ministerial nomination list forwarded to President Goodluck Jonathan and the zoning of positions within the party had pitched the leaders against one another following which the convention had been postponed twice over disagreement among party leaders.

'The constitution of the party stipulates that the National Convention should hold a month to the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent executive. The tenure of Chief Ezeoke, led national executive ends by September 5.

'The convention was earlier fixed for July 17, it was later shifted to July 31, but an alleged observation by the INEC that I was not given the mandatory 30 notice before the convention necessitated a shift following which September 17 was adopted.

'By that date it would have been two weeks beyond the end of the tenure of the current executive which the party's constitution frown at. This is one of the issues that the emergency NEC meeting will address.'