By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
The Senator representing Cross River South Senatorial in the senate, Senator Gershom Bassey has 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.
Senator Bassey escaped being lynched at Transcorp hotel, Calabar as delegates and supporters suspected to be loyal to Okon booed and poured pure water on him as security agents tried to escort him to his car. Immediately he stepped out of the hotel after a prolonged meeting with Okon, members of the election committee, security agents and few others to resolve controversial issues surrounding the senatorial primaries.
The crowd descended on his car as they could not reach him and the back screen of the Prado jeep was smashed as he was hurried out of the hotel premises for safety.
Commenting on the incident, Bassey said after the attack he sustained some injury trying to dodge stones aimed through his shattered back screen and “no matter what 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 are I did not expect Ekpo to resort to violence. The reason why 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 extracted materials from him. Later on a few materials were recovered in their room 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 o fRep materials or we wait till next week when there 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”.
On allegation that he threw punches at Okon during the meeting, Bassey said, “There was no such thing, I did not throw punches at him but we had a heated exchange of words but there were no punches. Even if that happened is that the reason why he should go and mobilize boys to attack me. What kind of nonsense is that? There were about 10 heavy policemen in the room when we were having the meeting, so there was no where we cold have fought.
“Violence must not stand, Ekpo should be disqualified, we cannot tolerate violence in this election. First of all why was Ekpo standing the election when he was disqualified by the election panel? It was only at the last minute that his name entered through whatever dubious means. Why was he in that election when all the people that were disqualified with him were disqualified? 21 of them were disqualified for various reasons ranging from tax, forgery, resignation and others. So why was he contesting that election, but be that as it may, having become contestants must he now become a violent contestant?
On issue that Imoke and others were forcing him on the people, he retorted, “what kind of rubbish is that. Do I look like a man that is being forced on the people? Have I not contested this election and won before that is childish talk…I am wining the election”.
In his response, Ntufam Okon who was one time state chairman of PDP debunked allegations in the social media that Senator Gershom Bassey was attacked on Wednesday by his supporters.
Speaking to Journalists in Calabar on the events that transpired at Transcorp hotel, 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”.
Okon wandered how Gershom would have been attacked to the extent of being injured when he had heavy security operatives around him and described the allegation that his supporters attacked Gershom Bassey as false.
“All those who gathered at the stadium and eventually moved over to Transcorp hotel were members of the party who were delegates to the primary. They were frustrated that Gershom Bassey hijacked the materials which may have accounted for their reaction. But he has security details and I don’t think he was wounded.”
Following last week violent attack, it is highly speculated that the former state chairman of the party and senatorial aspirant, Ntufam Ekpo Okon has been disqualified from the race on issues of alleged violence.
Top sources close to the committee said Okon may have been disqualified on alleged issue of violence from the race by the committee that has since returned