The police aborted last night a meeting of the G-7 Governors and the leadership of the Abubakar Baraje-led breakaway faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The meeting, scheduled to hold at the Sokoto State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, at 8pm, was stopped by truck loads of riot policemen.
But the members regrouped at an undisclosed location, discussed briefly and dispersed.
The governors in the G-7 are Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).
Two trucks loaded with policemen were parked close to the entrance of the building at 7.45 pm but by 8.30 pm, when our reporter arrived the venue, there was only one police car parked close to the entrance, with only two policemen seated.
Drivers and vehicle owners were prevented from stopping metres close to the building. Parking was not allowed.
Spokesman for the Baraje faction, Chukwuemeka Eze, confirmed the siege. He told our correspondent on the telephone that members were forced to beat a retreat, strictly for security reasons.
According to him, “we are being careful not to play into the hands of certain state-sponsored agents currently on the prowl”.
Members of the faction also cried out yesterday over “threats” to their safety by those they described as agents and henchmen of President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to the faction, the unnamed agents “have embarked on a mission to intimidate and overawe us, using various unconstitutional means to achieve their selfish goals”.
A statement by Eze, said yesterday said the past few weeks in particular had witnessed the implementation of a well co-ordinated and systematic plot to traumatise, annihilate and cripple members of the faction economically and politically.
This, Eze said, is in flagrant disregard for Chapter IV, Section 33 to 45 of the Constitution that guaranteed their members’ fundamental human rights as Nigerians.
The statement continued: “Contrary to the provisions of Chapter IV, Sections 42, 43 and 44 of the Constitution, which guarantee our right as Nigerians to acquire and own property in any part of the country, our national secretariat and most of our state secretariats have been sealed by the Police on the orders of those in power.
“This is despite the fact that we still have a court case against Bamanga Tukur and his National Working Committee (NWC).
“Two weeks ago, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) in its overzealousness to please President Jonathan, marked our sealed national secretariat for demolition on the laughable excuse that it was originally approved as a residential building.
“Yet this property was being used as the national secretariat of another political party, the National Democratic Party (NDP), before New PDP acquired it – and the same FCTA kept mute!
“At that time, the FCTA did not realise that it violated land use but it now wants to demolish the building in a hurry simply because the authorities perceive the new owner (New PDP) to be anti-government!
“ What more, the Adamawa State Lodge, also in Abuja, which we were using as temporary national secretariat, has also been sealed off on the flimsy excuse that the area is not for commercial activities!
“This invidious crackdown has been extended to individual leaders of the New PDP. The legally acquired Abuja property of His Excellency, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, the Governor of Kano State, has been revoked by the tyrannical Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed.
“The same treatment has been meted to Senator Aisha Al-Hassan from Taraba State, whose events centre, A-Park Gardens, which has been in operation all these years, has suddenly been revoked by the FCTA and slated to be demolished any time from now.
“Information available to us indicates that property in Abuja owned by other New PDP leaders may suffer the same fate.”
The faction also cited the withdrawal of security details attached to Senators Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Danjuma Goje, former governors of Kwara and Gombe states respectively, as part of the plot.
It said a similar treatment had been meted to the factional chairman, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje and Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, stating that Amaechi now goes about without an ADC and a CSO.
This, the faction said, is geared towards opening the governor’s flanks for possible kidnapping or assassination, since peaceful ways of removing him from office had failed.
The statement went on: “The police orderlies of the Rivers State SSG and those of Amaechi’s Chief of Staff have also been similarly withdrawn without any cogent reasons.
“The use of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to hound our members is no longer news. His Excellency Timipre Sylva, the former Governor of Bayelsa State, and Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki are two foremost examples.
“We understand that the worst is yet to come as this unserious organ masquerading as an anti-graft agency would soon be unleashed on all our key members in both the Senate and the House of Representatives in an operation code-named ‘Operation Coerce Them Back to Tukur’.
“On its part, the Nigeria Police, which has woefully failed to find a solution to the menace of Boko Haram, kidnapping, assassination and other criminal acts ravaging the country, has been given a fresh mandate to frame up our members and term them criminals in order to keep them at bay.
“The experiment has already started in Bayelsa, the home state of President Jonathan, where 85% of the citizens have indicated interest to work against his second term ambition due to the total neglect of the state and the entire Niger Delta region by the present administration.”
The faction cited an October 4 press statement by the Bayelsa State Police Command and signed by the Police Relations Officer, DSP Akhigwe Alex, on behalf of the State Police Commissioner.
An excerpt from the police statement reads: “The Bayelsa State Command wishes to inform the general public that as a result of complaints from well-meaning citizens of Bayelsa State, most of which border on criminality against one Richard Poekene Kpodo, a high powered investigation committee headed by Assistant Commissioner of Police in-charge of Central Instigation Department has been set up to look into the various crimes allegedly committed by him and members of his syndicates.”
The New PDP said Kpodo is being haunted for joining and becoming the Bayelsa State chairman of the Baraje-led faction.
“Curiously, Kpodo’s present hunters have conveniently forgotten that this was the same man who was in the forefront of the campaign team of President Jonathan in 2011.
“His State Secretary, Sidi D. Godwill, was the Zonal Youth Leader of PDP. These two, together with all other key members of the Baraje-led PDP, can no longer visit Bayelsa State just because of politics.
“The crackdown took a new and frightening dimension yesterday morning 26th October, 2013 when Tonye Okio, the Publicity Secretary of the New PDP in Bayelsa State, was abducted by the Bayelsa State Police Command in a commando fashion in his Abuja residence and whisked off to Bayelsa for a possible trial as a criminal just because he speaks against the tyrannical style of leadership of the present leadership in the country.
“A few days ago, in a move to root out our people in Gombe State, one of our leaders in the state, Hon. Mohammed Magaji Doho, who was the Commissioner for Water Resources for eight years during the tenure of Senator Goje, was been arrested.
“Doho, a grassroots mobiliser together with 68 of our members, were arrested by the Police Command in Gombe State for no cogent reasons.
“This ruthless trampling on our fundamental human rights leaves no one in doubt that the Jonathan administration is intolerant of opposing views.
“Nigerians can now see what we meant when we said that these people are no democrats. They are intent on turning our country into a banana republic where the rights of Nigerians no longer count.
“Nigerians should prepare for the worst because today it is New PDP, but tomorrow it would certainly be somebody else.
“We hereby appeal to President Jonathan to be a statesman and call these dogs of war to order before they do irreversible damage to our dear country.
“We also call on Nigerians to intensify prayers for us and our troubled nation even as we restate our resolve not to go back on our sacred duty to reform the PDP and contribute our quota towards the evolution of a truly democratic Nigeria where the rights of all citizens are respected, irrespective of their political affiliations,” the statement added.