The police wielded the big stick on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Friday over the protracted leadership crisis rocking the opposition party, with the Inspector General, Solomon Arase ordering the office complex that houses the national secretariat of the party shut for a week to allow peace to reign.
He gave the party leaders the same period to resolve the stalemate between Senator Ahmed Makarfi,former governor of Kaduna State and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, both of whom are laying claim to the party chairmanship.
The decision was taken at a meeting between Arase and PDP stakeholders after repeated acts of violence by supporters of the gladiators to seize control of the party secretariat, especially in the last one week.
Force Spokesperson, Olabisi Kolawole, in a statement on the meeting said: “In a bid to find a lasting solution to the protracted crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Solomon Arase, convened a meeting with all stakeholders in his Abuja office on Friday (yesterday) and called for peace among the parties, particularly Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
“After exhaustive deliberations in the meeting that was also attended by the Director-General of Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Musa Daura, each of the factions – Sen Ali Modu Sheriff’s and Sen. Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi’s-led factions agreed to nominate four representatives each for peace talks to arrive at a harmonised position within one week.
“The PDP Secretariat at Wadata House Plaza and Legacy House should be under lock and key pending the outcome of the resolution.”
Arase also urged politicians to educate their followers on the need to conduct themselves within the ambit of the law, adding that the Force would not relent in its mandate to protect lives and property without fear or favour.
Heavily armed policemen took over the PDP national headquarters last Sunday ostensibly to prevent a breakdown of law and order.
But they were withdrawn on Monday, paving the way for Sheriff, whose tenure as acting national chairman has lapsed, according to the PDP governors, to gain entry into the complex.
Sheriff, armed with court papers, told reporters he had resumed as the ‘authentic chairman’ of the party.
He said that the ex parte order issued by a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, which had barred him from acting as national chairman, expired on June 9, 14 days after it was issued, and since it had not been renewed or extended, he remained the party’s chairman.
Makarfi, who heads the party’s Caretaker Committee put in place by PDP governors, accused Sheriff of being used by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to sabotage the opposition party.
The PDP National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, the National Auditor, Adewole Adeyanju, and Sheriff, are in court, contesting their tenure.
They had secured a court order restraining the party from filling their offices at the Port Harcourt convention.
Sheriff claims that the constitution of the party does not provide for a caretaker committee.
Two days after Sheriff’s court-inspired takeover of the PDP secretariat, some party youths stormed the complex and sealed it off, disowning the ‘national chairman’.
The youths, who called themselves PDP National Rebirth Group and PDP Concerned Rescue Group, then proceeded to hand the keys over to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin and expressed support for the Makarfi-National Caretaker Committee.
Prior to Friday’s shut down order by the IGP, another group of PDP youths had assembled in front of the secretariat protesting the continued crisis.
They blocked the entrance to the secretariat with a rickety van for about an hour before they dispersed with the truck. Policemen and private security guards at the gate watched as the youths protested without violence.