The Cross River State governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, slated for Sunday in the various wards was postponed to Monday even as two governorship aspirants, former Minister of Culture and Tourism, Chief Edem Duke and Prof. Eyo Etim Nyong alleged that materials meant for the election had been hijacked purportedly by the National Vice Chairman, Ntufam Hilliard Eta, in favour of another aspirant, Sen John Owan Enoh.
But addressing Journalists, Ntufam Eta said the postponement was due to the late arrival of the seven-member election committee members sent to the state, and therefore expressed determination to ensure that free, fair and credible exercise is conducted.
While denying the allegation that he was frustrating the process by hijacking the materials, Eta said when the committee members arrived the State Sunday afternoon, they had to pay courtesy calls on some security outfits including the Police, the Department of State Security and Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
“I have heard the allegation that I have connived to hijack election materials. Let me assure all our members that nothing is farther from the truth. We have just returned from visits to security services and INEC and the materials are in the custody of the Ali Magaji committee. The materials will be distributed and by tomorrow, election will commence in all the 196 wards in the state,” he explained.
Eta said it was wrong for anybody to say that he convened a state executive meeting in a private residence on Saturday, saying the constitution of the party does not give him the authority to convene state executive committee meeting “excerpt in very serious circumstances.”
The National Vice Chairman however, insisted that as an indigene of the State and a national officer in charge of the South South zone, he cannot stay aloof in the selection of a governorship candidate, saying that having an interest in a candidate does not constitute a crime.
“I am not empowered to convene a state executive committee meeting and by the constitution of the party, you cannot hold that meeting in a private house. But I must say that as a leader, I am interested in who becomes my governorship candidate.
“It is not because I am a leader that I don’t have preferences. I am a conspirator and I have the right to convene a private meeting based my interest. I was a victim of injustice during the early days of my political career. I have the right to support any governorship aspirant of my choice.”
Earlier, Duke and Prof. Nyong had allegedly threatened protest votes against any favoured aspirant, particularly John Owan Enoh, who they said was using the power of money to bamboozle the party leadership, apart from the fact that he is also from the Central Senatorial District which should not govern the State so soon since the immediate past governor was also from the zone.
The duo claimed that information available to them showed that the committee members, who they said were conniving with Eta to scuttle the process, were not interested in conducting a free and fair election.