Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The policemen attached to the National Secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were forced to fire multiple gunshots to scare away thugs and supporters of former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who invaded the party secretariat.

The supporters of Atiku, one of the presidential aspirants on the platform of PDP, were seen around the secretariat as early as 9a.m. carrying banners, posters with Atiku’s pictures and the banners of the PDP.

The former vice president later arrived at the party secretariat around 12 noon and was cheerfully welcomed by hundreds of his supporters.

Atiku, while receiving his Expression of Interest and nomination forms last week, had urged his supporters to overwhelm the party secretariat while submitting his forms until they are forced to give him the party ticket.

Trouble, however, started when some thugs with APC posters invaded the Atiku supporters on the Michael Okpara street, opposite the party secretariat.

According to an eyewitness who does not want his name in print, “The APC supporters started singing song against the supporters of the former vice president while the supporters of Atiku retaliated, then fight broke out.”

The thugs were seen using heavy sticks against one another, and in the process a guy was beaten to stupor. They also chase themselves down to the main gate of the party secretariat directly facing a branch of Skye Bank.

According to the eyewitness, when the fight became a free for all, the Atiku supporters ran for safety, and subsequently forced the gate of the party secretariat opened to seek refuge.

This, however, led to stampede as many women were trampled on and in the process, sustained minor injuries.

To arrest the situation, therefore, the police on duty fired multiple gun shots to disperse the thugs.

Meanwhile, Atiku, while submitting his forms, said he would not be seeking nomination if the country was working.

He noted that it weighs deeply in his heart that Nigeria has become the world headquarters of extreme poverty according to the World Economic Forum and the World Poverty Clock.

Atiku said he was also not happy that there had been so much killings and terror across the country, that the Global Terrorism Index has rated Nigeria as more terrorised today than it was in 2015.

The presidential hopeful stated: “This is a sober moment for me. Today marks the beginning of my journey, our journey together to get Nigeria working again.

“I am very sad that 11 million Nigerians have become unemployed since May 29, 2015. And this does not include the millions more who never had a job since leaving school. I have created thousands of jobs in my private businesses and I know how to lead a government that would do the same for Nigeria.

“I ask all PDP delegates and indeed all Nigerians to join me at this sober moment to spare a thought for our country and to consider working with me to get Nigeria working again. This is a step into our future.

“Let us work together to create the right conditions for investments to flow in and flourish to create jobs for our people. “Let’s work together to send poverty packing. Let us together reduce corruption so that our resources will be deployed to our national priorities. Let us work together to fight all types of terrorism and other crimes. Let’s work together to restructure Nigeria for better governance and to unite our people.”