BY DAUD OLATUNJI
The struggle for supremacy in the Ogun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP turned bloody on Wednesday after a member of one faction allegedly hit a man in a rival faction with a charm.
The visit of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur to Ogun State was expected to help reconcile the warring factions of the party in the state, but alas it was not so. It only worsened matters.
The party in the state had long been enmeshed in crisis which had polarized it into two factions with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and one time party financier, Buruji Kashamu leading the warring factions. Tukur, who paid a courtesy visit on Obasanjo was quoted to have affirmed the leadership of the Dipo Odujirin-led executive supported by Obasanjo.
The National Chairman while fielding questions from newsmen after holding a closed door meeting with Obasanjo in his hiltop mansion in Abeokuta, said: “whoever that the people have elected as far as am concerned, is the chairman of our party in Ogun.
“Let me assert here that there is no crisis here in Ogun PDP at all. I have come here because of the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo who is the leader of our party and I am now the chairman.
“We do talk with the leaders of our party throughout the country because you will remember in my own programme of reconciliation, reformation; rebuilding and so I have been going around to the leaders and stakeholders of our party. So I can assure you that there is nothing about crisis here.
“Our party is based on equity and justice, no imposition so that everybody will feel to be part of that great party. Because it is only when you give people the leadership they did not elect that is when you then start to get crisis. Two days after his visit, the Kashamu group led by Adebayo Dayo reacted when it faulted the assertions of the National Chairman.
In the statement issued by Dayo, the party said while it is true that Tukur visited former President Olusegun Obasanjo at his hilltop residence in Abeokuta, there was nowhere he was quoted as affirming Odujinrin as the Chairman of the party in the state.
“Rather, what our respected National Chairman said was that ‘whoever that the people have elected, as far as I’m concerned is the chairman of our party in Ogun’,” he said.
Dayo added: “We are aware that it was the sacked National Auditor of the PDP, Bode Mustapha that manipulated the remarks of the National Chairman to suit his selfish interest. Whereas our National Chairman knows that our exco emerged from the congresses organized by the Dayo Soremi-led Harmonised Exco under the supervision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other relevant agencies, the Odujinrin group’s had no INEC representatives.”
“ Even the Congress Monitoring Committees of the party also declared the purported congresses as null and void. Again, the November 16, 2012 judgment of the Federal High Court, Lagos, which sacked the Odujinrin group, confirmed the position of the committees.
Perhaps, not satisfied with the lackadaisical attitude of the National Executive Committee in the matter, the Kashamu faction stormed the party secretariat in Abeokuta which later led to a bloody clash that Wednesday.
There was a confusion following the bloody clash between the members of PDP factions loyal to the two political gladiators over the possession of the State Party Secretariat leaving one on danger list.
Members of the two factions which had been at loggerheads over the possession of the Party Secretariat located along the Presidential Boulevard, Abeokuta caused stir when they allegedly used various dangerous weapons, charms and missiles against one another.
According to an eye witness, the violence started at about 10:00am when the members of the Dayo-led State Executive Council stormed the party premises for an emergency meeting which was resisted by the Obasanjo faction and resulted in the bloody clash which created panic amongst residents of the area. Vanguard gathered that several members of the two factions sustained various degrees of injury in the fracas which was burst by the Security operatives thirty minutes after.
Vanguard findings revealed that, during the melee, one of the hoodlums in the Obasanjo’s faction was allegedly hit with an object suspected to be a charm which prompted him to vomit blood profusely.
The Security operatives which included armed policemen, operatives of the State Anti-robbery Squad and State Security Service arrested five of the hoodlums and subsequently took over the Secretariat.
When Vanguard visited the place some armed and stern-looking policemen and plainclothes security operatives have stormed the place and prevented journalists from gaining entry into the premises after the situation was brought under control.
Dayo in his reaction described the developments that led to the fracas at the party secretariat as the “illegality of the highest order” being perpetrated by some elders of the party in the state.
Dayo who spoke with newsmen in Abeokuta however, insisted that his exco remained the only recognized leadership of the PDP in the State.
He said “some youths wanted to hold a meeting at the secretariat but some people tried to stop them and this led to the fracas. We all belong to the same family and if we should be fighting ourselves, what happens when we have to confront the opposition parties? We should go and buy rockets? I don’t understand why we should always fight ourselves whenever we meet”.
In his reaction to the fracas, the Publicity Secretary of the Obasanjo faction, Mr. Bidemi Osunbiyi accused the other faction of initiating violence.
Osunbiyi said “We normally hold our meetings on Wednesday but this morning they (Kashamu faction members) came and said that they wanted to make use of the secretariat, too. They were led by some security men. But while we were still talking, one over-zealous boy hit one of us with a charm and people now held him. But the police came and said that all of us should leave the secretariat. By tomorrow morning (Thursday) we shall surely be back at the secretariat. What happened today is the beginning of the end of the crisis”.
Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Ikemefuna Okoye who led other senior security chiefs to the Ogun PDP secretariat told newsmen that his men were at the party premises to maintain peace, law and order.
Okoye said that he rushed to the party secretariat when he was informed that there was a “little problem” in the party premises. The police boss, however, assured the residents of the area not to panic as policemen had already “taken over the secretariat.”