Confusion In PDP As Modu-Sheriff Fights On | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Confusion In PDP As Modu-Sheriff Fights On

Police At PDP Gate
Posted: May 23, 2016 at 5:02 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


…Police Seal Off National Secretariat


Rotimi Akinwumi



The 2019 presidential ambition of Ali Modu-Sheriff cost him the opportunity of retaining his position as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Independent has learnt. But the party has continued to reel in confusion and crisis, as the former chairman fights on to regain control.

The confusion became more pronounced when on Sunday heavily armed mobile and regular policemen numbering over 40 were drafted to seal off the PDP Wadata Plaza, National Secretariat, to prevent Modu-Sheriff and his allies from gaining entry for a planned press conference slated for 4p.m to address nagging issues in the party.

The party had on Saturday held two the parallel conventions, one in Abuja and the other in Port Harcourt, where Modu-Sheriff was removed as chairman together with other members the National Working Committee (NWC) and a Caretaker Committee put in place.

There are indications that Modu-Sheriff had rallied leaders in the dissolved NWC and their supporters to create a third faction in the party, as opposed to the Stakeholders’ Forum led jointly by former Information Minister Jerry Gana and Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu and the camp of the PDP Governors’ Forum.

The policemen were allegedly drafted to the party secretariat on the request of the Caretaker Committee headed by former Kaduna State governor, Ahmed Makarfi, with a view to stopping the newly created faction headed by Ali Modu-Sheriff from having access to the party secretariat.

However, while the police laid siege to the party secretariat, the sacked chairman of the party, Modu-Sheriff and his supporters within the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) who had planned to hold a press conference at the party’s secretariat shifted their meeting to a secret location in Abuja where they had a meeting with a retinue of lawyers on what next to do.

Speaking with newsmen, media aide to Modu-Sheriff,  Inuwa Bwala, said it was wrong for anyone to blame his principal for the crisis plaguing the party, saying that the blame should rather go to the governors whom he said were desperate to conduct the convention because of their desire to plant their cronies in office as members of the NWC.

According to him, Modu-Sheriff had drawn the attention of the governors to the court orders stopping the convention, which the party did not succeed in getting vacated before Saturday as critical reason why the convention should not have held.

But the governors, he said, did not listen to voice of reason even after he (Modu-Sheriff) had consulted with his rest NWC members and a decision taken that the convention be postponed.

He insisted that Modu-Sheriff did not mandate Secondus to represent him at the convention, insisting that the presence of the Deputy National Chairman does not mean that the NWC sanctioned the convention.

But Secondus who spoke through his aide, Chuks Akuwuti, in his reaction faulted the allegation that he acted on his own, as he noted that what he did was in compliance with the party constitution.

“Sheriff can’t send the Deputy National Chairman to the convention. We  aren’t running an individual party. The PDP Constitution says in the absence of the chairman, the deputy acts.”

Meanwhile, at the PDP National secretariat located at  Michael Okpara street, Wuze zone 5 Abuja, policemen were seen condoned off at the two sides of the adjourning Dalaba street with their big trucks stationed at both ends to ward off vehicular movements.

About two big police trucks, three hilux vehicles and some roving cars were strategically stationed on the Michael Okpara and Dalaba streets.

The usual security guards made up of policemen, men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and other uniformed private security guards who usually provided security at the Wadata Plaza were withdrawn while the special squad of the police took charge.

Newsmen who were invited to a press conference at the party secretariat by the Modu-Sheriff faction were prevented by the policemen from entering the premises.

A Police  sergeant who spoke to our reporter said “it was order from above specifically from the highest echelon of the party.”

The sergeant stated that they were drawn from their base in Kubwa, Abuja on the orders of the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, and were told to seal off the secretariat without allowing anyone inside the premises.

The Director General of the PDP Governors Forum, Mr. Osaro Onaiwu who came to the party secretariat said he “came to see what is happening at the party Secretariat”.

According to him, he got privileged information that a parallel National Working Committee was to be hosted at the secretariat wondering who had called the meeting.

“Makarfi as the chairman of the caretaker committee has not called any meeting and therefore none should hold in the party secretariat,” he said.

Modu-Sheriff had enjoyed the backing of almost all the governors elected on the platform of the party prior to last Friday night, eve of the convention held in Port Harcourt. He lost out in the race as he could not convince the governors of his sincerity and willingness to keep to the terms of agreement upon which they were supporting him.

A member of the just dissolved National Working Committee of the PDP told Independent in confidence that the governors had lost faith in Modu-Sheriff almost a week past but were being careful not to rock the boat knowing his capacity to cause trouble.

The source informed that the governors had caught Modu-Sheriff playing double game with them as he allegedly went into covenant individually with two of the governors whom he would have as his vice president whenever the contest becomes open. He reportedly told the two governors to keep the matter to themselves and not discuss it with anyone.

One of the Governors is from the South West while the other is from the South East.

According to the source, knowing full well that he would want to seek the presidential ticket of the party in 2018, Modu-Sheriff reportedly lied to the Governor’s Forum that he would hand over in 2018 and allow the party make its choice of candidates for the election without rancour.

The matter, it was said, became an open secret when the supposed “Vice Presidential candidates” confided in each other, the plan to become running mate to Modu-Sherrif should he seek the party’s presidential ticket.

The folly of their actions dawned on them when they discovered that Modu-Sherrif was just playing on their intelligence.

The issue, it was said, was brought to the attention of the rest members without the two governors admitting their own role in the shenanigan.

The source told this newspaper that the governors of the party in seeking proper assurances from Modu-Sherrif, a week ago demanded that he should address a press conference to denounce the alleged presidential ambition but he refused to do so.

Convinced that he might become a problem for them, the governors were said to have played along with him with a view to finding a suitable means of dumping him without causing any trouble for the party.

It was gathered that some of the governors who were sympathetic to his cause pleaded with others to take his words on his honour and work along with him, instead of insisting on him making a public commitment of his lack of interest in the presidency.

It was allegedly argued that since Sule Lamido had openly made known his desire to seek the presidential ticket of the party, and Modu-Sheriff has been seen to be giving the former Jigawa State governor a sort of support, it should be taken that Modu-Sheriff has dropped his presidential ambition.

However, the governors became convinced beyond doubts Friday night that their assumptions about Modu-Sheriff were wrong and that the best option was to push him out of office.

This newspaper learnt that the governors at a meeting with some other stakeholders held in Port Harcourt with Modu-Sheriff in attendance, raised the issue of a firm commitment once again, but were surprised at how furiously he had reacted to their demand.

Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose and Nyesom Wike, Rivers State, who had openly supported him were said to have expressed surprise at his behaviour and apologised to their colleagues.

However, when Modu-Sheriff left the meeting, the governors took a firm decision that the Convention must hold the next day and that the embattled national chairman must willingly quit or get booted out by getting him impeached at the Convention ground.

Early on Saturday morning, another round of meetings was called at the Rivers State Government House where Modu-Sheriff was allegedly enjoined to resign so that it could be communicated to the Jerry Gana group and get them to stop the parallel convention which was yet to kick off then.

It was learnt that the Governors had promised the Jerry Gana group that Sherrif would be convinced to step down, so that the parallel convention could be averted as demanded by the Gana group.

In fact, a private jet was sent to Abuja on Friday evening with a view to conveying the leaders of the Jerry Gana group to Port Harcourt as a show of end of the crisis, but the Gana group refused to board the plane to Port Harcourt. The group stayed back in Abuja to hold their own convention.

With Modu-Sheriff refusing to accept the plea to step down, the stakeholders in a meeting with thegovernors on Saturday morning resolved to go on with the convention where the delegates will exercise their power to sack all the NWC members and appoint a Caretaker Committee to run the party.

The decision did not go down well with Modu-Sheriff, leading to his storming out of the meeting, only to address a press conference at the Le Meridien Hotel, saying the convention had been cancelled.

The governors called his bluff and decided to go ahead with the Convention where their plans were hatched.