It was a free-for-all in Owerri, the Imo state capital, on Tuesday, as chieftains of the Social Democratic Party in the state exchanged blows.
The crisis led to the suspension of the state Congress which was billed to take place at the party’s secretariat situated on Wetheral Road in Owerri.
Our correspondent who was invited to witness the botched Congress observed that trouble started after some Local Government Area chairmen stood against the commencement of the Congress.
They insisted that staff members of the Independent National Electoral Commission who were invited to witness the Congress should go.
Insisting the Imo state chapter of the SDP was “not for sale”, the aggrieved politicians said that the internal differences must be resolved before a state Congress would hold.
The exchange of words snowballed into a fight when the Oguta Local Government Area chairman, Chidi Oziri, approached his Okigwe LGA counterpart, Nwankwo Maduka, and told him to sit down.
Maduka immediately warned him, then Oziri punched him and used weapons, which included chairs on him and Maduka retaliated.
The exchange of fisticuffs spread to the other chieftains who attacked each other freely, destroying party equipment and locking the secretariat.
Addressing our correspondent, the SDP chairman in Owerri zone, Chidiebere Oja, said that the Congress could not go on because they had information that some chieftains of other political parties from the state wanted to implant moles in the party.
The visibly enraged zonal chairman said, “Imo SDP is not for sale. What you saw today is spontaneous combustion of anger by the real members of this party. Those who have worked for years to keep this party alive and moving in the state. They got information that politicians from other political parties from the state want to hijack Imo SDP. We will not allow that to happen. We have asked INEC staff members who came to observe the Congress to go because the Congress will no longer hold. We will communicate them when we resolve the internal differences and fix a new date.”
A stakeholder from the Ehime Mbano LGA, Remy Nwachukwu, said that suspending the Congress was the best thing to do to save the face of the party in the state.
He accused politicians of trying to come into the party from the backdoor, insisting that every plan to disorganise SDP in Imo state will fail.
The state chairman of the party, Ben Anochie, who later addressed the crowd announced that the Congress had been suspended, informing that a new date shall be communicated after the State Working Committee had met.