Friday, 13 September 2013

Police seal off new PDP office in Rivers, restrict Amaechi

• Presidency says ministers’ dismissal not linked to party’s crises
• Mantu, Aziza, Lar, others to broker peace
• Baraje’s group urges court to strike out Tukur’s suit

 SCORES of armed policemen sealed off the secretariat of the faction of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) loyal to Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi in Port Harcourt Thursday. Amaechi’s movement to the office was also allegedly restricted by the police. The policemen led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department of the state police command, Mr. Sam Okaula, warned that the police would never allow the existence of a parallel PDP secretariat in the state. Okaula stormed the premises of the new PDP secretariat at No.38 Forces Avenue, Old Government Reservation Area, Port Harcourt, Thursday afternoon with some plain-clothes policemen shortly after the Chief of Staff, Government House, Tony Okocha, had finished briefing journalists and conducted them round the building which was used as Amaechi’s re-election campaign head office in 2011. The police chief, who entered the premises barely five minutes after four PDP and two Nigerian flags had been hoisted by the governor’s loyalists, walked straight to the flags and started dismantling them. And when he was confronted by the factional PDP members, he started screaming: “This cannot happen here. We will never allow this to happen here. This is not the party secretariat.” Presuming that the party stalwarts who demanded that he produce a court order authorising the police occupation might attack him, he ordered policemen at GRA police station, which is directly opposite the new PDP secretariat, to storm the premises and occupy them. The policemen yielded to his directives and proceeded to dismantle all the flags and ordered everyone out of the premises. “We will ensure that we maintain law and order in this state. Anybody that takes the law into his hands will be dealt with accordingly and that is exactly what we have done here. We don’t have any secretariat here and anybody who has come here to hoist any flag will be dealt with and that is what we have done. “I am Sam Okaula, the Deputy Commissioner in charge of CID, Rivers State Command and I am in charge of all investigations and I am in charge of any matter that will bring disorder, breakdown of law and order. I am in charge of that kind of situation and that is exactly what I have done here. I want to return law and order and nobody will be allowed to take laws into his hands,” he added. Okaula’s directives that everyone on the premises should be arrested by his men caused a serious altercation between him and journalists. He later rescinded the order. A few minutes later, 12 police vans were quickly brought to the scene and were used to barricade the premises. The Chief of Staff, Government House, Tony Okocha, had earlier told journalists that the decision to open the office was in strict obedience to the directive of the national leadership of the new PDP. He said the opening of the new office was intended to usher in democratic renewal in the state and the country. In its reaction, the state chapter of the PDP says any attempt by anybody to open up a parallel secretariat in the state in the name of the new PDP other than the existing legitimate ruling party, led by its national and state chairmen, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and Felix Obuah respectively, is provocative. This was contained in a statement by the Special Adviser on Media to the state chairman, Jerry Needam. This is coming as the Presidency faulted a claim that there were political undertones in the decision to relieve nine cabinet ministers of their jobs. The Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, explained that the decision to relieve the ministers of their jobs had nothing to do with the crises rocking the PDP. While inaugurating a 44-member Elders Committee, Gulak on behalf of the Goodluck Support Group (GSG) stated that the unity of the country remained more important than the parochial interest of persons or groups. “This is the decision of the President. It is his constitutional power to hire and fire. The ministers were working for the President and it has nothing to do with the PDP’s misunderstanding and disagreement. I believe that ministers who were relieved of their appointments had already paid their own quota.” He charged members of the committee to work to keep both the PDP and the country at peace. Former Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, said that with the constitution of the elders committee, the PDP now enmeshed in internal crises would re-enact its dominance ahead of the 2015 poll. Mantu, who spoke on behalf of the elders, noted that the vast knowledge and experience of members of the committee would impact positively on the PDP. Among members of the 44 elders committee were former Senate President, Ken Nnamani; Sheik Dan Zangar, Rev. Yusuf Turaki, Bishop Thomas Okpor, Maj.-Gen. Patrick Aziza (rtd), Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, Bishop C.N. William, Sheik Dahiru Bauchi, Prof. Jibril Aminu, Gen. Yakubu Usman (rtd), Gen. Haladu Hananiya (rtd), Prof. Jerry Gana, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, Dr. Okwesileze Nwodo, Senator Tunde Ogbeha, Chibudom Nwuche, Saidu Umaru Kumo, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, Chief Solomon Lar, Alhaji Abba Dabo, Lili Gabari, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, Bode Olajumoke, Prof. Jibril Aminu, Senator Umar Hambagda, Alhaji Musa Liman, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, Aisha Aliyu Zamfara, Aisha Alhassan, Sam Ode, Senator Ayoola Agboola, Patricia Etteh, Dr. Eze Kano and Alhaji Danlkadi Maidugu. Yesterday too, former Governor of Kwara State, Senator Bukola Saraki, told reporters in Ilorin that the issues being fought for by the factional members of the PDP were not about Jonathan, saying the same matters would be fought with whoever is the nation’s president. Besides, the Abubakar Baraje’s faction of the party yesterday prayed the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, to strike out a suit in which Tukur’s loyalists are praying the court to restrain them from parading themselves as the National Executive of the party. At the resumed hearing of the matter, counsel to Baraje’s faction, Ahmed Raji (SAN), informed the court that they had filed a preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the suit.

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