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Police beef up security around FCT over PDP’s crisis

By Muyiwa Adeyemi (Head, South West Bureau) Karls Tsokar, Segun Olaniyi and Joseph Wantu
24 May 2016   |   3:12 am
Yesterday too, Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose, offered an insight into why Ali Modu Sheriff was removed as the party’s chairman and the National Working Committee (NWC) was dissolved.
Chief Bode George (left), Govs Ayodele Fayose, Olusegun Mimiko, and Iyiola Omisore, a party member at the South West PDP Leaders Meeting in Akure, Ondo State.

Chief Bode George (left), Govs Ayodele Fayose, Olusegun Mimiko, and Iyiola Omisore, a party member at the South West PDP Leaders Meeting in Akure, Ondo State.

• Why Sheriff was removed as chairman, by Fayose, Jalo
• Makarfi-led caretaker panel may resume today

As the crisis in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) rages with the sealing off of its secretariat in Abuja, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Solomon Arase yesterday warned intending protesters to steer clear of the nation’s capital or face the full wrath of the law.

The warning was issued following intelligence gathered by the police that “some aggrieved factional leaders and members of the PDP have perfected plans to engage thugs from across the country to join them in threatening public peace and security in Abuja.”

Yesterday too, Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose, offered an insight into why Ali Modu Sheriff was removed as the party’s chairman and the
National Working Committee (NWC) was dissolved.

Fayose disclosed that a caretaker committee was appointed at the last Saturday National Convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State to save the party. The governor said though he was one of those who supported the former chairman, he had no option than to support his removal so as to forestall the disintegration of the party, insisting: “We cannot sacrifice the party for any individual.”

Meanwhile, a chieftain of the party in Benue State, Chief Abu King Shuluwa, has urged the Board of Trustees (BOT) to quickly intervene in the crisis rocking the party and save it from extinction.

The Special Assistant to Fayose on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, in a statement issued in Ado-Ekiti, urged Sheriff to accept his removal in good faith and join others to build the party.

The governor said: “I supported Senator Sheriff in good conscience. But when it became obvious that his continuous stay in office as the National Chairman will jeopardise the collective interest of the party, I had no option than to support his removal.

“To me, the general interest of the party overrides that of any individual and there is no how I can stand in support of any plan to sacrifice the party for any individual.

“Anyone whose ambition threatens the collective interest of the party should be removed to save the party and that’s exactly what we have done.

“I, therefore, urge Senator Ali Modu Sheriff to accept the dissolution of the NWC and appointment of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee in good faith and cooperate with other well-meaning members of the party to reposition it so as to achieve the much-needed electoral victory in 2019.

“To Sheriff and other well-meaning members of the party, what should be important is the party and not the individual and no sacrifice should be too much for anyone to make for the party at this time.”

A statement issued by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Olabisi Kolawole yesterday in Abuja said the planned engagement of thugs to press home their position, parade the streets in protests and further disrupt the entire national secretariat of the party housed in Wadata Plaza in Wuse Zone 5 “is sequel to the ongoing intra-party leadership crisis in the party and further fallout of the recent political engagements of the party.

“The plan of the brains behind this development is to infiltrate Abuja and attack the National Headquarters of the People’s Democratic Party with intent to forcibly occupy the facility.

“Towards perfecting this criminality, credible police sources confirm that the actors will mobilise into Abuja with effect from Monday, May 23, 2016 and they intend to march through major streets in Abuja before proceeding to the PDP Secretariat to manifest their intention.”

To this end, the police leadership has directed that all necessary measures be proactively deployed to secure the party secretariat and its inhabitants, until peace is restored in the party.

Shuluwa told journalists in Makurdi yesterday that unless the BOT takes over the party and organises credible congresses within a reasonable time its future will be very bleak.

“We founders are against this hijacking of the party; we are opposed to imposition; we want due process, no disrespect to elders and above all, we are opposed to illegality,” Shuluwa stated.

The party chieftain, who said the founders want to return it to the people, particularly condemned those bent on imposing Sheriff as national chairman of the party on members when it was not ripe for the north to produce the chairman.

“We are saying that the life span of caretaker is over and Sheriff should go,” the party chieftain added.

He maintained that the parallel party convention held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State last weekend was to sack Sheriff.

“The presidency is zoned to the north so the chairmanship should come from the south and Ahmed Makarfi, purported acting chairman is not from the south.”

While condemning the manner in which PDP congresses were held across the country, Shuluwa said even in Katsina-Ala Council where he hails from, he didn’t know that congresses were held.

Besides, the PDP caretaker committee put in place at the party’s national convention last Saturday in Port Harcourt may resume work today.

But it was not clear at press time whether the gate of the Wadata plaza national secretariat of the party would be opened for the caretaker committee by the police which kept it sealed or whether the committee would operate from outside the secretariat.

The Caretaker Committee of the PDP has former Kaduna State Governor, Ahmed Makarfi, as Chairman with Senator Ben Obi as Secretary.
But the party’s national secretariat in Abuja which has been sealed since Saturday night by the police still remained sealed as at last night.

The situation had produced misgivings as to who would occupy the secretariat.

A source close to the caretaker committee disclosed yesterday that the committee might resume work today and reel out its operational strategies.

It was also learnt that a press conference would be addressed by the committee to herald its operations.

Markarf had at the convention ground said that no member of the caretaker committee would contest any party position.

“None of us is seeking any party office. We will work towards rebuilding the party,” he said. The committee was given 90 days within which to conduct another convention to elective substantive party officers.

The party’s former Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Abdullahi Jalo, said yesterday that Sheriff had a plot to destabilise the party.

Addressing reporters in Abuja, Jalo also revealed that the root cause of persistent crisis threatening to tear the party apart was the plot by Sheriff to hold on to power and contest the 2019 presidential election on the party’s platform.