September 13, 2013

PDP CRISIS: Police bar Amaechi from Govt House

BLOCKED—Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State complaining of the police action, yesterday.

PORT HARCOURT:  POLICEMEN, last night, barred Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State and his guests mainly former speakers in the country from accessing the governor’s residence through the private gate of the state Government House, Port Harcourt.

Condemning the action, the state Commissioner of Information and Communications, Mrs Ibim Semenitari told Vanguard on phone that the governor and his guests  were forced by the Police allegedly on the orders of the State Police Commissioner, Mr Joseph Mbu to go through the main gate of the Government House.

BLOCKED—Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State complaining of the police action, yesterday.

BLOCKED—Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State complaining of the police action, yesterday.

Describing the action of the state Police boss as an abuse of federalism and political authority, the commissioner said no official explanation was adduced for the action of the state Police command.

Wondering why the governor of the state should be stopped from accessing his residence through the private gate of the Government House, Semenitari said the action of the Police was strange and a violation of the tenets of popular democracy.

“This happened around 8pm this night (last night). The Police stopped the governor and his guests, former Speakers in the country from accessing the governor’s residence through his private gate.  The governor had to go through the main gate. This is a clear abuse of federalism, power and rule of law”, Mrs Semenitari said.

It is not true — Police

Meantime, when contacted for comment on the allegation, the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Angela Agabe said it was not true. According to her, the Police only stopped Governor Amaechi’s faction of the PDP from setting up their secretariat at 38 Forces Avenue, a building opposite the old GRA Police station.

The Forces Avenue road where the secretariat is located connects the back gate of the Government House, which serves as the private gate of the governor.

Another top security officer, who spoke to  Vanguard said the Police had to act on a clear instruction that they should stop any attempt by the Amaechi’s faction to set up a factional secretariat of the PDP in the state because there is only one legitimate PDP in the country.

The source continued that the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Joseph Mbu had not been in the state for some days so there was no way he could have ordered that the governor be stopped from accessing his residence through the back gate.

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs Semenitari said a total of 102 former Speakers were with the governor when the incident occurred.

“102 former Speakers were with the governor when it happened”, she said.

Police aborts unveiling of Rivers nPDP secretariat

The Police in Rivers State, yesterday, aborted the opening of the State Secretariat of the nPDP in Port Harcourt.

Chief of Staff to the Rivers State Government, Mr Tony Okocha was about ending the official opening of secretariat located at 30, Forces Avenue, Old GRA Port Harcourt premises that served as the 2011 Campaign Office of  Governor Rotimi Amaechi, when a team of the Rivers State Police Command led by Deputy Commissioner of Police, State’s CID, Sam Ogaola rushed in to stop the hoisting of nPDP’s  flag.

Okocha had barely concluded his declaration at 1.30pm and left instructions for hoisting of the party and national flags at the secretariat when the police arrived.

Before the arrival of the police team, Okocha said: “In obedience to the directive of the nPDP national leadership, I hereby, open the office of the nPDP, Rivers State chapter. I hope that this would usher in fresh air and democratic renewal in Rivers and the nation.

“The nPDP is a national response to the impunity and dictatorial tendency typical of the former leadership of our great party. I therefore, urge the executive of the party to immediately commence mobilisation of the party’s men and women to deliver the party from the stranglehold of the tyrants.

“I commend the governors of Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kwara, Adamawa, Niger and our own indefatigable governor of Rivers State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and other adherents for this uncommon display of courage. They are indeed heroes of our democracy. On Baraje’s national PDP leadership we stand.”

Chief Godspower Ake, Chairman of the Amaechi faction of the Rivers PDP and his secretary were, however, absent at the event, but state Publicity Secretary of the faction, George Ukwoma was present.

Court to decide Baraje’s fate today

THE fate of the Abubakar Baraje-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, will be decided today by the Justice S.E Chukwu presided Federal High Court, Abuja. Yesterday, the court fixed today for a decision on the merit of an application seeking to halt further activities within the camp of the Baraje-led faction known as new PDP (nPDP).

Meanwhile, there were indications, yesterday that the Presidency may dump Tukur to win back the G-7 governors as the Russian chapter of the PDP endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan for second term with the presidency tinkering a formidable team to tackle the legal challenge mounted by former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Justice S.E Chukwu of a Federal High Court in Abuja fixed today to decide the merit of an application seeking to halt further activities within the Abubakar Baraje-led nPDP.

Tukur made the application before the High Court yesterday.

AMAECHI WELCOMES JONATHAN—From left: Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Mr Tele Ikuru; Gov Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers, welcoming President Goodluck Jonathan at the Port Harcourt International Airport on the President's arrival, yesterday.

AMAECHI WELCOMES JONATHAN—From left: Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Mr Tele Ikuru; Gov Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers, welcoming President Goodluck Jonathan at the Port Harcourt International Airport on the President’s arrival, yesterday.

His application came on a day that four key actors in the nPDP- Baraje, Atiku Abubakar, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Dr Sam Jaja, adduced reasons why the court should strike out the suit entered against them by a faction of the PDP loyal to Tukur.

Tukur and 11 national officers of the PDP had in an ex parte motion they filed before the court last Friday, sought for an order of interim injunction restraining the four respondents from parading themselves as national executives of the party.

The plaintiffs had also prayed the court to bar the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from recognising, dealing and relating with the Baraje- led faction, as well as restrain them from operating or opening a parallel national, state, local government area and ward secretariat under the appellation of “New PDP”, pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

Besides, Tukur and his group urged the court to stop the splinter group from interfering with the duties and functions of the newly elected Executives of the party.

Nevertheless, Justice Chukwu declined to grant the ex-parte application, even as he directed counsel to the plaintiffs, Chief Tochukwu Onwugbufor, SAN, to go and put all the respondents on notice.

While adjourning the matter, the court ordered the warring factions to maintain their status-quo, pending the determination of the suit.

Meantime, at the resumed sitting on the case yesterday, counsel to the Baraje group, Mr Ahmed Raji, SAN, informed the court that they filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit.

In the preliminary objection, the Baraje group maintained that the subject matter of the suit had to do with domestic affairs of the PDP, contending that the suit ought to have been filed before a state or Federal Capital Territory High Court, instead of the FHC.

An attempt by Raji to persuade the court to hear and determine the issue of jurisdiction before delving into the substantive matter was vehemently opposed by counsel to the Tukur led faction, Chief Tochukwu Onwugbufor, SAN, who pleaded the court to grant an interim order directing the two parties to maintain the status quo.

After listening to the parties, Justice Chukwu adjourned the matter till today to rule on whether or not to grant application for an interim order of status quo as prayed for by the Tukur-led PDP.

Presidency may dump Tukur

The aggrieved governors of the PDP appeared to have made substantial progress in their ongoing dialogue with the Presidency and key stakeholders of the party. They met for hours on Tuesday night and agreed on some grey areas while another meeting is being slated for Sunday in Abuja.

Vanguard investigations showed that President Goodluck Jonathan has accepted many of the positions being canvassed by G-7 governors in an apparent move to end the political crisis that has jolted the party and threatened its 2015 victory.

A top source, who was at the meeting with the President last Tuesday, said that Jonathan had acquiesced to the demands of many of the PDP governors that the National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, should be dropped as a condition for peace.

But the source who is a governor of one of the northern states said that the President had pleaded for time to enable the embattled chairman to disengage honourably from the top post.

“The President has accepted the dissenting governors’ demand that Tukur should go but he does not want him to be shoved out in a disgraceful manner. What the President wants is that Tukur should be allowed two to three months’ grace period to be able to disengage from the post,” the source said.

But Tukur, who believes he enjoys the support of President Jonathan, has rebuffed claims that he was on his way out, insisting that he remains the chairman. It was also learnt that the Presidency had agreed that the suspension of the Rivers State  Governor, Chibuike Rotimi, be lifted on condition that he withdraws all the suits he had instituted against the party for suspending him.

According to the source, the President noted that it was illegal to continue to suspend Amaechi after the initial 30 days stipulated in the constitution of the party without further justification. But the insistence of the Presidency on the withdrawal of cases filed against the party by the governor as a condition for recalling him was rejected by the other governors, who feared that the demand was a subtle ploy to further rein in Amaechi for more humiliation by hawks in the party, who do not like him.

It was gathered that the Presidency had expressed concern over the rising profile of the Atiku’s group in the party and had therefore decided to take on the former Vice President legally. A source said that in a bid to frustrate Atiku and his group from having their way in the 2015 election, the Presidency had opted to assemble what sources describe as a ‘formidable’ legal team to tackle the former number two man in the country and whittle his rising political influence.

One of the governors at the meeting said: “The grievances of the  governors were tabled and revisited one by one by all those  at the meeting. When the issue of party structure in each of the affected  states came up, the overriding interest of PDP was put into the consideration and the President and his team agreed that  the authentic party structures should be restored in Adamawa and Kano states.

“As for Rivers State, the President and his team advised  all the parties to withdraw their suits in court to resolve the matter. Although the President admitted that the suspension of  Amaechi was illegal and the required 30 days had elapsed,  everything was predicated on the resolution of disputes in court.

“There was suspicion by the G-7 governors that the  presidency came with a mind set to resolve issues except the crisis in Rivers. They are trying to isolate Amaechi to deal with him.  Everybody has been wondering why the President’s body language was different on Rivers State. Jonathan was non-committal on the solutions to Rivers crisis,” the governor said.

PDP Russia backs Jonathan for 2015

Ahead of the 2015 general elections, PDP (Russian Chapter), under the chairmanship of Dr Mauris Okoli, after a crucial meeting, adopted President Jonathan as its presidential candidate for the polls.

Okoli, who is also the Coordinator of the Federal Government Amnesty Programme in Russia, said that the decision to support President Jonathan’s second term bid is based on the fact that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended, allows him a second term tenure. It is therefore, natural and fair, for President Jonathan to take advantage of the constitutional provision and to nurse such ambition. Furthermore, Dr. Okoli stated that the realization of the President’s Transformation Agenda, which would lead to sustained socio-economic development of Nigeria, could only be achieved if President Jonathan continues in office for another four- year tenure.

He however cautioned that, though the President has not taken a decision on the issue of second term, the PDP Russian Chapter strongly believes that the issue is almost a ‘fait accompli’.

Stating that it is very difficult for any government to achieve success without the support and encouragement of its citizens, he urged Nigerians to support the President Jonathan’s administration with constructive criticisms and encouragement as a way to move the country forward. The PDP (Russia Chapter) strongly believes that the present administration will succeed in delivering Nigeria from the enormous challenges it is currently facing, and that it is just a matter of time before the citizens will begins to breathe full fresh air.