Pro-Buhari Groups Clash at Campaign Secretariat

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Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja


Violence was averted wednesday by the security agencies as factional groups of the Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) confronted each other in a desperate bid to gain control of the Katampe headquarters of the organisation in Abuja.
The two factional campaign groups had hitherto been engulfed in a supremacy tussle but the bubble finally bursted yesterday when they clashed during a ceremony to celebrate the return of President Muhammadu Buhari from medical vacation abroad.

One of the groups was led by Alhaji Danladi Pasalli, while the other by Alhaji Aminu Isa Bayero coincidentally converged on the office for what they called a thanksgiving press conference to mark the recovery and safe return of President Buhari to the country.

The Pasalli faction which arrived earlier at the venue, took control of the office and locked out the other group led by Bayero.

However, irked by the situation, Bayero and his group moved to invite the police and officials of the Department of State Services (DSS) to retake the office for their meeting.

The effort of the Bayero group to gain entry into the secretariat was met with stiff resistance as the Pasalli faction also invited the police to the venue to ensured that only members loyal to them had access into the building.

THISDAY learnt that leading members of the Bayero-led group including Bayero and his national secretary, Nnenna Lancaster Okoro and their numerous supporters had to loiter outside the gate of the building.

When it became clear that trouble was imminent, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Katampe area, Mr. Tino Dangana. appealed to the two groups to submit five names each to deliberate and resolve the crisis.

Crisis was said to have erupted in the organisation last February when the Acting National Coordinator, Alhaji Aminu Isa Bayero, was suspended by the Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman, Alhaji Kabiru N’Kaura, and replaced with Alhaji Danladi Passalli.

THISDAY gathered that Bayero was removed because of his high handedness in the running of the organisation and unilaterally making multiple appointments into one office or the other contrary to the mandate of his office.
But the embattled Bayero later told journalists that he is still the authentic national coordinator having received an approval letter from the presidency and the headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Meanwhile, the leadership of the APC has explained why the party has not been able to meet up with its financial obligations.

Speaking on a TV interview, yesterday in Abuja, spokesman of the party, Bolaji Abdullahi, said the ruling party has decided to do things differently and to avoid dipping hands in state treasury to fund its expenses as was the case in the last dispensation.

Making specific reference to complaints by some journalists over lingering advertisement debts, Abdulahi said: “ I think we have started paying. The last time I checked, I think we have started paying. Maybe if we were doing things the way the other party (PDP) did, using government money to fund the party, it is possible we won’t even have all these. But we have started paying.

“The issue is this, let me admit that it is wrong for us not to have paid for those adverts within the period that they were not paid. Some of these things were backlog from the last two years or so. But we do not have problems with salaries of staff.

“You see, people just exaggerate some of these things. Then, another thing is this; I am a journalist, I understand how this works. When something happens, they keep calling me ‘Oga, won’t you place advert?’. But I bear in mind that we have not paid for some and I say, ‘no, let us just write a letter to congratulate the person celebrating’, they would say, ‘no, Oga, don’t worry, just place the advertisement.’

“I remember one that I said we were not going to pay, but they went and waylaid the chairman in one state and they called me and said the chairman said we should place the advert”.

The APC last week came under attacks for its willful refusal to clear advertisement debts of almost N25 million owed to some media houses in the country.

More than half of the debts were incurred in form of advertisement bills in the run up to the 2015 general election, while others came from congratulatory advertisement placements for APC’s bigwigs”