Police yesterday sealed off the national secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) just as more revelations emerged over why the embattled national chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, was rejected by the governors of the party.
Stern-looking mobile and regular policemen turned back visitors to the secretariat yesterday, insisting that nobody was allowed entry.
Our correspondent who was at the secretariat at 3:26pm was also turned back, as the security men said they were acting on ‘instructions from above’.
This may not be unconnected with the crisis that rocked the main opposition party at the weekend, which resulted in the emergence of three factions led by Ali Modu Sheriff, Ibrahim Mantu and Ahmed Makarfi respectively.
The two sides of Dalaba Street, leading to both the front and back gates of the secretariat, were barricaded by security operatives brandishing weapons.
LEADERSHIP observed that riot policemen had replaced men of the Nigeria Police, Civil Defence Corps and private security guards that provided security at the secretariat.
A top security source told our correspondent that none of the factions can lay claim to the deployment of the policemen, adding that only workers of the secretariat were allowed entry into the party office.
“The commissioner of police asked us to seal off the PDP headquarters and allow entry to only staff members. By Monday (today), the picture will become clearer on which faction actually gave the order. But for now, we are acting on instructions that none of the factions should be allowed entry,” he said.
This comes as Modu Sheriff reiterated yesterday that he remained the national chairman of the party, describing the events at the convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, as null and void.
Sheriff, who spoke through his media aide, Inuwa Bwala, stated that he and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) were being briefed by their lawyers and would head to court over the logjam in the party.
Meanwhile, Rivers State governor and chairman, National Convention Planning Committee of the PDP, Chief Nyesom Wike, explained that the party had to cast Sheriff aside because his leadership was destabilising the party.
Wike, who disclosed this while speaking to Government House correspondents on Saturday night, said, “All along, the crisis has been about the former acting chairman whose emergence was strongly opposed.
“This is destabilising the party and so we had to let him go. What is important is the party and not the individual. No sacrifice is too much for anyone to make as far as PDP is concerned.”
The governor noted that he had no personal interest in supporting Sheriff as he (Sheriff) was the best option at the time he emerged.
“We will not allow the PDP to die or suffer divisions under our watch. History will never forgive us if we watch the party die,” he stated, adding that the party leaders would work towards maintaining unity amongst all members of the party.
He insisted that, despite the challenges, the 2016 National Convention was successful as the party had been repositioned in the interest of the nation.
On Saturday, 12 governors of the PDP had declared the dissolution of Sheriff-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party at the national convention of the party which held in Port Harcourt Rivers State. They then set up a caretaker committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, to manage the affairs of the party for 90 days before the convening of a new convention.
But citing four conflicting court orders on the convention, Sheriff had, in a separate press briefing, suspended the convention.
However, it was gathered that the inability of the governors to dictate to the national chairman on the affairs of the party influenced their decision to dump him.
A source disclosed that besides the insistence of the national chairman to postpone the convention so as not to disobey the court order, the governors were concerned that they were unable to manipulate him in the running of the party.
The source pointed out that one of the South West governors, who had perfected the swap of delegates’ list from the region, was one of the masterminds behind the ouster of Sheriff.
The source further revealed that the sinister motives of the governors became clear after the delegates’ list and tags for journalists were hoarded.
The source said, “One of the South West governors changed the names of the delegates because an influential senator from the region had defeated him there. So the south west governor was angry that having perfected his plot so far, the convention was to be cancelled. He almost fought the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, over a dispute that arose on the whether the convention should go on or not, but Sheriff insisted that they should not default on the other side of the law.
“They approached a former governor from Jigawa State, a former presidential political adviser for Adamawa State and a former vice chairman of the party from North East but they all declined to take the position. They however settled for former governor of Kaduna State, Senator Makarfi, who willingly took the position,” the source disclosed.
It was, however, gathered that some Board of Trustees (BoT) members and federal lawmakers yesterday paid solidarity visits to Sheriff at his Abuja residence where he held a meeting with the members of the NWC.
The media aide to Sheriff, Inuwa Bwala, further disclosed that Sheriff and other members of the NWC were being briefed by their lawyers on the next line of action on the new developments in the party.
He stated that the deputy national chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, was not mandated to preside over the convention which had already been suspended by Sheriff.
He added that the caretaker committee, as created by the governors at the convention, was alien to the party’s constitution.
Narrating what transpired in Port Harcourt, Bwala said Sheriff explained to the governors that he had been served four conflicting court orders over the national convention and that he would not want to run foul of the court orders, hence the need to suspend the convention.
He added that all the cases subsisted by Friday and there was no court sitting on Saturday.
He added that Sheriff met with the NWC and the BoT after meeting with the governors and that they gave him the nod to suspend the convention because of the court orders.
“The national chairman told them that court orders had been served on him and that most of the orders were contradictory. If he goes ahead he would fall foul of the court. He told the governors that if he had to go ahead, they would be running foul of court ruling, but they already had a set agenda. Their personal interests took the better of them against the law.
“The national chairman went back to the NWC, which is the statutory body to convene National Convention over his meeting with the governors; they asked him to go ahead. So he called a press conference and announced that the convention had been postponed until the court issues are sorted out. Members of BoT and NWC left the convention ground, except Uche Secondus. He was the only NWC member there.”
Bwala accused Uche Secondus dropping the name of national chairman over the presiding of the convention.
Speaking on the Sen. Makarfi committee, he said: “Caretaker committee has no place in the law. What happened in Port Harcourt is a nullity,” adding that they had invited their lawyers to commence action today.
“We will go and vacate the court processes. When that happens, we will go ahead with the convention,” he concluded.