Former national secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Wale Oladipo, and former national auditor, Wole Adeyanju, escaped lynching by youths protesting Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff’s re-emergence as chairman, with the Oladipo reportedly hurrying out of the party headquarters without any footwear.
But Oladipo has refuted the report, describing it as a lie and saying he left the office after he had finished his task for the day.
Two separate groups supporting rival factions in the PDP crisis had stormed the party secretariat at different times of the day.
The first group of youths, after chasing out the two party officials, locked up the national secretariat and handed the keys to the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT).
Later in the day, another band of youths loyal to Sheriff stormed the party secretariat, broke the keys unchallenged and later left the premises.
The first group, which defied the early morning rain, started arriving at the PDP national headquarters as early as 7am, carrying placards with inscriptions such as ‘Enough is Enough: Makarfi is Real; Sheriff is Not a PDP Member; Makarfi Is Real; Sheriff Must Go.’
The youths, numbering over 200, had no resistance from policemen at the gate as they moved into the party secretariat. It was learnt that the protesters, who had some women among them, were brought from Niger, Kaduna and Nasarawa states.
However, Prof. Oladipo and Adeyanju, who had arrived at the office earlier, were trapped in their former offices as the youths marched round the office complex, dancing and chanting anti-Sheriff songs.
Some of the youths shouted that the two former NWC members should be dealt with for collaborating with Sheriff to destroy the party, but security agents attached to the secretariat pleaded with the youths to allow Oladipo and Adeyanju to leave peacefully.
As they pleaded with the youths, one of the security operatives managed to sneak out Oladipo’s vehicle through the back entrance.
Oladipo, who ran out of his office barefooted, also joined in begging the youths not to harm him, saying, “Please allow me to go. I won’t come back again.”
He hurried away for fear of being beaten by the youths who were waving horse whips.
Oladipo and Adeyanju were, however, successfully smuggled out of the premises to a nearby business centre, Sky Memorial, from where they were eventually taken to safety.
Adeyanju, unlike Oladipo, was not able to take out his vehicle from the national secretariat as his blue Toyota Camry, with registration number, Lagos APP 767CK, was abandoned at the sealed national secretariat of the party.
Security operatives disclosed to LEADERSHIP that they had extracted commitments from the leaders of the protesters that they would not vandalise property at the secretariat.
Before the pro-Makarfi group arrived, a group of pro-Sheriff protesters, named Guardian of Democracy, had at the secretariat insisted that Sheriff was the authentic leader of the PDP. They, however, could not sustain their protest before leaving the secretariat.
One of the pro-Makarfi groups, the PDP National Rebirth Group, led by Comrade Edede Franklyne, alleged that Sheriff was an agent hired to destroy the PDP.
Aderemi Olusegun, leader of another group called PDP Youths Rescue Group, declared himself the new acting national chairman of the PDP, since party elders had failed to resolve the lingering crisis.
He warned both Ali Modu Sheriff and chairman of the caretaker committee, Ahmed Makarfi, to stay away from the party secretariat from this day forward.
The groups later vacated the premises at 3:47pm after handing over the keys to the premises to the PDP BoT chairman, Sen. Walid Jubrin.
Jubrin, who was accompanied by High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, assured them that the BoT would review the situation and ensure that sanity is brought back to the party.
However, at 5:27 pm, pro-Sheriff youths stormed the secretariat with hammers and other tools and broke the gate and flung it open, all the while chanting songs in support of Sheriff.
While all this was going on, security operatives attached to the secretariat watched helplessly.
Meanwhile, Sheriff, who insisted that he remains the national chairman, described Sen. Makarfi committee’s supporters as perpetrating acts of hooliganism and brigandage.
According to a statement by Sheriff’s media aide, Inuwa Bwala, “the sack of the secretariat of the party today by hoodlums under the directive of the so-called caretaker committee is a sad reminder of the days of lawlessness, impunity and brigandage for which sponsors of the caretaker committee have been known over the years.
“While calling on his supporters to remain calm and law-abiding in the face of the various provocations, by allowing the law to take its course, Senator Sheriff implored security agencies to stop taking sides in political matters, as demonstrated by some policemen deployed to secure the PDP secretariat.”
He accused Sen Makarfi and his backers of resorting to lies and blackmail.
He also denied the accusation by the spokesman of the caretaker committee, Dayo Adeyeye, that Sheriff was being sponsored by the Presidency and the All Progressives Congress (APC), and that there is no court order granting Sheriff eave to operate the top office of the party.
Bwala said: “Ridiculous as it may sound – given the fact that right thinking Nigerians know that – Makarfi and the cabal that has been sponsoring him are merely crying wolf, where there was none. Having come face to face with the truth, law and reality, it is imperative to state some facts, for the record.
“Be that as it may, we wish to challenge Ahmed Makarfi to name the date, venue and names of those in attendance at the so-called meeting Sheriff allegedly had with some governors from the APC. Again how could Sheriff have been a stooge when he remains the only PDP stalwart that speaks out against the APC since the PDP lost the 2015 elections?
“For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to state that Ali Modu Sheriff left the APC at its formative stage, and has never had anything to do with the party or any of its stalwarts since his departure.”
He accused Ahmed Makarfi and his cohorts of telling lies just to divert attention from the real issues at stake, which, he said, is the presence of a cabal in the PDP desperately trying to hijack the structure of the party to continue the perpetration of acts of lawlessness and impunity, which Ali Sheriff resisted.”
Its not true – Oladipo
But PDP national secretary, Oladipo, denied that he was chased out of the national secretariat of the party yesterday.
Oladipo, in a statement he personally signed yesterday, said he actually resumed duty at the party secretariat in the morning alongside the national auditor of the party, Alhaji Adewole Adeyanju.
According to him, when he witnessed the activities of some “miscreants” who invaded the party secretariat to cause trouble, he voluntarily left the office after he was done with his work.
“The news that I was chased out of office is a lie. No one touched me, nor was I in anyway compelled to vacate office. I left office when I was through with all I needed to do, same with the national auditor who came to my office before he took his leave.”
He advised PDP members to disregard the false report just as he appealed to all parties in the conflict “to sheathe their sword and refrain from all acts of lawlessness and embrace the rule of law as the only panacea to moving our party forward.”