Ex-PDP chairman disqualified from Cross River senatorial primary over alleged violence

Following last week’s violent attack on the senator representing Cross River South Senatorial, Senator Gershom Bassey and members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) electoral committee, it was alleged yesterday that the former state chairman of the party and senatorial aspirant, Ntufam Ekpo Okon has been disqualified from the race because of the ugly incident.

The chairman of the primary committee, Col. Ahmed Usman (rtd) and other members could not hold the senatorial primaries and after a prolonged meeting, it was resolved that the primaries be postponed, but violence broke out as Senator Bassey tried to leave the venue. While the meeting was on, a member of the committee was said to have concealed some election materials in favour of Bassey in his car and in the process he was manhandled by some of the delegates.

Top sources close to the committee said Okon might have been disqualified from the exercise on alleged involvement in the attack.Reacting, Senator Bassey yesterday called on the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP to disqualify his fellow senatorial aspirant, Ntufam Ekpo Okon from the race for allegedly instigating violence. Commenting on the incident, Bassey said: “No matter what I did, I did not expect Ekpo to do what he did on that day. They even beat members of the panel. You know he beat my driver. No matter what politics or the reasons were I did not expect Ekpo to resort to violence. The reason we went to Transcorp Hotel was to resolve issues and they were resolved.

“So there was no cause for alarm. All the issues of hijack of materials had been resolved. I did not hijack anything. It was Ekpo people that beat up one of the panel members that carried materials and they took materials from him. Later on a few materials were recovered in their rooms and brought. The panel member’s phone and other things were stolen. We had resolved it and there were two options, to use the House of Reps materials or we wait till next week when they will print fresh materials from Abuja.

“The police and others were there and we agreed and left only to be coming out of the meeting I was attacked. When I was going for the meeting, people were cheering me but coming out the crowd had become a violent crowd”.

In his response, Ntufam Okon who was one time state chairman of PDP debunked that he ordered his supporters to attacked Senator Gershom Bassey. He said: “We were holding meeting with the chairman of the Primary Committee, Col. Ahmed Usman in his hotel room when Gershom Bassey entered and started attacking me. The O.C. SARS was there as well as the Area Commander and the DPO State Housing”.“I was still with the chairman when he went out and I later learnt he was attacked for conniving with a member of the committee to hijack materials meant for the primaries. That was why the primary election did not hold.”

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