By Emmanuel AddehÂ in Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government on Friday moved to retrieve the building currently occupied by the crisis-ridden All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, insisting that the structure belonged to the government of the state.
Citing a court order which directed that the APC should vacate the building located on Melford Okilo Expressway, Kpansia , Yenagoa, the Peoples Democratic Party-led state government noted that the house was â€˜forcefullyâ€™ taken over by the leadership of the APC without resort to it.
Â According to the state Solicitor-General, Mr. Preye Agedah, who addressed journalists at the state Ministry of Justice office, Yenagoa, aside the fact that the government bought the building from the original owner, the current crisis bedeviling the party, whereby two factions were laying claim to secretariat was also capable of causing serious damage to the structure.Â
The opposition party had recently run into troubled waters, following the removal of the Chairman of the party in the state, Chief Tiwei Orunimighe by the APC National Executive Council (NEC), whose loyalists have been protesting the action and laying claim to the secretariat.Â
A faction loyal to Orunimighe has been at loggerheads with the group supporting ex-Governor Timipre Sylva, which currently occupies the property seized by security operatives last week to avert anarchy.Â
In a petition also copied the Inspector General of Police (IGP), theÂ Director-General, Department of State Services (DSS), the Nigerian Army , the Commandant, Nigerian Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the National Chairman, APC, the government maintained that it would deploy every legal means to take back the building from the opposition party.
It added that a former Chief of Staff to Governor Seriake Dickson, Chief Dikivie Ikiogha, who has now defected to the APC was handed over the keys by the government, but was shocked how the building became occupied by the APC.Â
If prompt action was not taken, Bayelsa government said, â€œ a mishandling of developments in respect of the said property may lead to a breach of public peace if not properly and promptly addressedâ€.
Agedah, who is also the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, told journalists that the government renovated the structure with N43 million, declaring that the Bayelsa government would not cede the common patrimony of the people to the APC and that the action was devoid of political undertones.
He added that the government has been at peace with the APC because of its â€œ political maturity and respect for the rule of lawâ€, but stressed that the acquisition of the property which was partly done by the then Sylva government and completed by Dickson’s, must be returned to Bayelsa State.Â
â€œ The property was rehabilitated for a total sum of N43,000,000, of which the final payment of N23,000,000 was made by the current administration after an initial payment of N20,000,000 by its predecessor.
â€œThe government had subsequently used the property as presidential campaign office and after the use, the keys to the property were handed over to Chief Ikiogha, who was then the Chief of Staff, Government House.
â€œ It is to be noted that the said Chief Ikiogha defected to the APC without handing over the keys to the propertyâ€, the government argued.Â
It added: â€œ to the utter consternation of the government of Bayelsa, the APC, Bayelsa Chapter, on the 17th of July, 2015, forcefully broke into and gained entry into the premises of the already acquired and renovated property and took illegal possessionâ€
According to the government, to avoid a breakdown of law and order , it resorted to the courts rather than forceful eviction, stressing that the party has refused to obey the court order.Â
â€œ While the capacity of the Bayelsa Government to also retaliate by forcefully ejecting the APC from its guest house is not in doubt whatsoever, no such step has been taken as doing so will unnecessarily heat up the polity,â€ Agedah said.Â
The number two officer in the ministry of justice maintained that â€œrecent developments within the Bayelsa APC required that urgent steps be taken to ensure that the said property is protected from avoidable damage and waste of government resources.
â€œThe property that was not only paid for by the common patrimony of the Bayelsa people, but also renovated at great expense is now in danger of being vandalised by opposing APC thugs to the detriment of the government and the peopleâ€, the government said.Â
When contacted, the APC Spokesman in the state, Mr. Fortune Panebi promised to â€˜get back’, but had not done so at the time of going to press.