- Oladipo, Adeyanju jump fence to escape
- DSS operatives withdrawn from secretariat Party’s national caucus, governors meet
- Allegation of being APC stooge, ridiculous, says Sheriff
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
Less than two days after he stormed the National Secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) along with his loyalists to imposed himself as National Chairman, of the party aggrieved youths have sacked Senator Ali Modu Sheriff from the national secretariat.
The group of youths under the aegis of PDP National Rebirth Group and PDP Concerned Rescue Group invaded the party premises yesterday morning and sealed off the party’s national headquarters and handed the keys over to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin.
In what looked like the high point of over five hours of demonstration at the PDP headquarters by protesting youths who threw their support behind Senator Ahmed Makarfi-National Caretaker Committee, those who came with Sheriff to occupy the place were sacked.
Following yesterday’s allegation by the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee accusing the Department of State Services (SSS) of providing the ousted chairman, Sheriff security to storm the PDP secretariat, the department has withdrawn its men from the secretariat.
Even the police presence was very light compared to when the security agents were deployed in the wake of the latest leadership crisis.
This was as the meeting of the national caucus, BoT and the governors’ forum get underway this night in Abuja with sole purpose of finding lasting solution to the leadership problem.
Sheriff was however not at the secretariat when the demonstrators arrived, as he was said to have gone to Borno State for a burial.
There was a report that he was invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to its Maiduguri office in connection with PDP campaign fund.
But his media aide, Inuwa Bwala denied the report saying they were in Maiduguri, Borno State capital for a burial and that he would be back to Abuja later in the day.
“There was no such thing. He went to Maiduguri for a burial and is billed to be back by 4p.m. today (Wednesday).
“I saw the post by an anonymous source and I believe it is part of the smear campaigns going on. Sheriff can never be involved with the pittance that was alleged to have been earmarked for him,” Bwala said.
The two former members of the National Working Committee (NWC)of the party who are in Sheriff’s camp, Professor Adewale Oladipo (former National Secretary) and Alhaji Adewole Adeyanju (former National Auditor) who were at the National Secretariat escaped mob attack by whisker.
The two former national officers who earlier forced their way into the secretariat with aid of loyal thugs were trapped inside the party’s headquarters and managed to escape through the chairman’s gate.
The protesters who forced their way into the premises after moments of solidarity chants, went in search of Sheriff and others, and vowed to physically drag any of them found occupying any of the offices.
It was in the process that security personnel posted to the PDP headquarters hurriedly whisked the former national secretary and nation auditor away through the back entrance.
Oladipo who escaped barefooted, pleaded with some youths who accosted him: “Please, allow me go, I will not come back! I will not come back!”
His driver later managed to smuggle his car parked inside the premises to the back entrance where he was taken away to safety through the adjourning Sky Memorial Complex, to evade the irate crowd.
But Adeyanju who scaled through the fence, abandoned his blue-coloured Toyota Camry with registration number APP 767 CK.
It was however, spared from being vandalised through the intervention of some concerned persons.
After the miraculous escape of the duo, the youths locked up the secretariat and sent for the Chairman of the BoT.
Walid arrived shortly thereafter and was handed over the keys by Comrade Franklyne Edede, leader of one of the groups who had earlier accused Sheriff as being a hired agent to destroy PDP.
The BoT Chairman who came in company of Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, assured the youths that the BoT would appraise the situation and take necessary decision.
The protesting groups, numbering over two hundred, had defied the early morning rain to arrive the PDP national secretariat as early as 6. 30a.m.
They carried placards with different inscriptions that read: “Sheriff is not a PDP member;” “Sheriff must Go;” “Enough is Enough;” and “Makarfi is real,” among others.
There was a counter group in support of Sheriff led by Solomon Azobie. This group however, did not make much impact and had retreated sooner than they arrived.
PDP youths had in a press conference on Tuesday, given the party leadership seven days to resolve the crisis in the party or they would take over the running of the affairs of the party.
But Oladipo has refuted claims that he was chased out of the national secretariat of the party.
Oladipo in a statement he personally signed yesterday evening, said he actually resumed duty at the party secretariat in the morning alongside the National Auditor of the party, Alhaji Adewole Adeyanju.
According to him, he witnessed the activities of some “miscreants” who invaded the party secretariat to cause trouble over nothing.
He insisted that he voluntarily left the office after he was done with his work.
Meanwhile, Sheriff has said the allegation by the Makarfi-led faction that he was being sponsored by APC and the presidency to scuttle the progression of the opposition party was ridiculous and paint him in bad light.
Sheriff, in a statement sent to our correspondent e-mail by his spokesman, Inuwa Bwala said it was sad that at “a press conference yesterday, one Dayo Adeyeye, speaking on behalf of Makarfi alleged that, he (Sheriff) is being sponsored by the presidency and APC, and that there was no court order granting him leave to operate his office.”
He said: “Ridiculous as it may sound, given the fact that right thinking Nigerians know that, Makarfi and the cabal that have been sponsoring him are merely crying wolf, where there was none, having come face to face with the truth, law and reality, it is imperative to state some facts, for the records.
“Makarfi and his sponsors want to create the wrong impression that Sheriff is not reliable, whereas it is an open secret that Sheriff has given credible and honest leadership to his state, to Nigeria and to the PDP, even for the short period he has been in the saddle of leadership than Makarfi.
“Be that as it may, we wish to challenge Makarfi to name the date, venue and names of those in attendance at the so called meeting Sheriff allegedly had with some governors from the APC. Again how Sheriff could have been a stooge when he remains the only PDP stalwart that speaks out against the APC since the party lost the 2015 elections?
“For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to state that Sheriff left the APC at its formative stage, and has never had anything to do with the party or any of its stalwarts since his departure. One wonders how Makarfi and his cohorts could tell lies just to divert attention from the real issues at stake.
“The issues at stake remain the presence of a cabal in the PDP, desperately trying to hijack the structure of the party and continue the perpetuation of acts of lawlessness and impunity, which Sheriff resisted.
“While we consider it most uncharitable that Makarfi will attempt to smear our revered National Chairman by leveling frivolous allegations, in the hope that he can divert attention from the real agenda of the group leading him by the nose, we make bold to state that his own ambition to become the presidential candidate of the PDP in 2019 is an open secret.
“We have noticed that, besides playing to the gallery, telling lies is gradually becoming their mode of operation, while acts of hooliganism and brigandage are their modes of expression; different from the lawful and dignified approach to issues of Sheriff in securing his mandate.
“While restating that Sheriff remains the lawful National Chairman, no matter their antics, nor acts of brigandage, it is becoming clearer to Nigerians that, the caretaker committee are becoming more violent, in the tradition of their paymasters, and the law enforcement agencies have the duty to stop them.
“Sheriff relies on the orders of the Federal High Court in suit number FHC/L/CS/613/2016, delivered on May 24, 2016.”