The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, worsened on Monday as the embattled interim National Chairman of the party and former Governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, after being pushed out for about two weeks, reclaimed the leadership of the party. Sheriff declared shortly after that he will remain as the National Chairman of the party until 2018. The former Governor of Borno State took over the control of the headquarters of the opposition PDP after three failed attempts on Monday and several hours of consultations with the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Solomon Arase.
The party had, in the last one week, been under the Caretaker Chairmanship of former Kaduna State Governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi and six other members. The action of the former Borno State Governor came exactly seven days after the formal handing over of the affairs of the party to the erstwhile Governor of Kaduna and Chairman, National Caretaker Committee of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, by the National Working Committee (NWC) and the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party.
Makarfi immediately after the handing over then assumed office at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja. But Sheriff, who stormed the PDP National Secretariat with hundreds of people suspected to be thugs as early as 7. 30 a.m, was initially denied access to the premises by policemen from Wuse Police station led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Mr. Ciroma Bala. Embattled Sheriff came to the PDP office in company of the party’s former National Secretary, Professor Wale Oladipo and former National Auditor, Adewole Adeyenji. The entrance to the PDP national secretariat popularly known as ‘Wadata House’ was not made available to Sheriff and his supporters until 1.30 p.m.
Before then, a serious argument had ensued between Sheriff and the police officers at the gate shortly after his convoy arrived the national secretariat early Monday morning. Shortly after, Sheriff told waiting journalists that “the party belongs to Nigerians and not the Nigeria Police or the people that were handpicked at Port Harcourt by Governor (Nyesom) Wike and his cohorts”. He added: “One thing remains, there was no convention in Port Harcourt because I cancelled it. “I don’t know why the police can say we cannot enter our offices when we have a valid court order to that effect.
“We will take this matter beyond the Nigeria Police, the law will take its course in this matter”, he said. All the calls made by Sheriff to the police top shots to instruct the DCP to allow him access were unsuccessful as Ciroma said he was acting on order from the above. After about two and a half hours of failed attempt to persuade the police to allow him enter the secretariat, Sheriff left for a meeting with IGP but with instruction that his supporters and the convoy should remain behind. He left at exactly 9.35 am. When he came back around 12 noon, he met similar brick wall.
Police told him to dismiss the thugs as they could be unruly. After 25 minutes of consultation with his men under a tree, Sheriff left with his convoy but as a decoy to disperse the crowd. It was later discovered that he went to Legacy House, the PDP presidential campaign office located along Shehu Shagari way in Maitama, Abuja where he gained access without difficulty. At a state, the police had to call for a reinforcement of more personnel to contain the suspected thugs who came in about 40 Abuja coloured cabs and were drumming. They all wore T-shirts with inscription “Guardians of Democracy! Support Ali Modu Sheriff!” The spokesperson of the PDP national caretaker committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye said the committee would react to the development today (Tuesday).
Adeyeye stated that the caretaker committee would study the development in the party before making any statement. However, Sheriff, after gaining access to the PDP secretariat, read what could be considered as riot act to former NWC members who are supporting the caretaker committee, threatening to declare their offices vacant if they failed to change their mind before Tuesday.His words: “The party constitution is very clear, you have right to resign your appointments. There is a deputy to take over automatically. All the deputies are waiting.
“If by tomorrow, anybody that did not come, we ask the deputy to apply for that office and takeover.” Later at a press conference, Sheriff said he remains PDP chairman till 2018. He declared that the exparte injunction obtained by the caretaker committee from a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt that barred him from acting as chairman had lapsed after 14 days. The caretaker committee, he added, was null and void because it was set up by an illegal convention. Sheriff equally disclosed that the party had set up a committee to organise a governorship primaries for Edo State.
The committee, he revealed, will be headed Senator Hope Uzodinma. He disclosed that the party’s governorship nomination fee for the Edo governorship election is N10 million and not N16 million collected by the caretaker committee. His words: “There is only one PDP, if anybody goes to buy form from any omnibus body called caretaker committee, they are on their own. “The PDP has spoken; PDP has only one party and we say our form is N10 million and we say they should go and pay the amount into the party’s account. If anybody goes and buy from some other body, he is on his own.