The onslaught against the breakaway faction of the "new PDP" continued yesterday. The divisional police officer of Asokoro Division, Nnana Ama, led scores of policemen to disrupt a meeting of the G-7 governors at the Kano Governor's Lodge in the Asokoro district of Abuja.
LEADERSHIP learnt that five of the G-7 governors -- Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Muazu Babangida Aliyu (Niger) -- and the leadership of the new PDP were in a closed-door session when the DPO of Asokoro Division (names withheld) stormed the Kano governor's lodge.
Apart from the governors, others at the meeting were chairman of the nPDP Alhaji Kawu Baraje, secretary Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Alhalji Kashim Imam, senators Aisha Alassan, Danjuma Goje, Abdullahi Adamu, Bukola Saraki, former governor of Bayelsa state Chief Timipre Sylva, Sam Sam Jaja, former governor of Ekiti Segun Oni and the national vice-chairman of the PDP (northwest), Ambassador Ibrahim Kazaure.
But the brief disruption of the meeting by the police did not end without a mild drama as the aide-de-camp (ADC) of the Kano State governor was said to have had a shouting match with the DPO before the situation was brought under control.
A source close to the G-7 governors told LEADERSHIP that the DPO, who came with a handful of other officers and insisted on seeing the Kano governor, said that he was acting on instruction to find out what was happening at the lodge.
He was alleged to have ignored those on guard and forced himself into the compound without permission, a development which attracted a verbal exchange between the ADC and the DPO. As at the time of going to press, four trucks of mobile policemen were at the entrance of the road leading to the Kano governor's lodge. This was the fourth time the Alhaji Baraje faction was contending with security agencies in the last two months. First, the secretariat of the new PDP in Maitama was sealed off by armed policemen shortly after which an alternative habitat, the Adamawa Governor's Lodge, was also invaded by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) for "unauthorised usage". A meeting of the G-7 governors was bungled by security men at the Sokoto Governor's Lodge penultimate week.
Speaking with newsmen after the meeting, Governor Aliyu expressed optimism that the crisis in the PDP would be resolved and that the reconciliation process which had "commenced will be pursued with all seriousness".
Oyinlola gave a graphic account of the brief disruption of the meeting: "We were holding our meeting with the governors when the DPO of Asokoro came in to say that he had instructions to disperse us from holding meeting or else effect arrest.
"We were surprised that, in spite of the fact that the consultations on the resolution of the PDP crisis had been put on hold as a result of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Mecca... and it was made known to all Nigerians that we will continue after the pilgrimage break. It is for the continuation of the reconciliation process that we were meeting here, only for the DPO to come.
"And we said okay, if you had instructions that we should not hold meeting, we were ready to be arrested. We felt that this is the height of impunity for a DPO to have the guts to tell a group of governors that we cannot meet. I think it was not as bad as this even during the military era.
"We told him that we were ready for arrest and he should go and bring his troops to effect the arrest. So, we continued the meeting and we finished our meeting. The resolution was that we should continue the meeting that was postponed with the president; that was the essence of the meeting."
The new PDP and Governor Nyako have condemned the action of the police, describing it as an act of intolerance. National publicity secretary of the faction Eze Chukwuemeka Eze said: "The action of the police shows lack of tolerance on the part of those in power at the centre and this goes to show the decaying level of governance and mismanagement of the nation's security to settle political misunderstanding.
"It shows that the government at the centre is gradually become despotic and totalitarian by the day as previous actions of the police have shown that there is a desperate attempt to hunt us in the new PDP."
Nyako, who spoke through his chief press secretary, Ahmed Sajoh, said "as far as we are concerned, we are disappointed by the act of the police which allowed a junior officer like a DPO to storm the venue of meeting of governors".
"The incident shows desperation and intolerance; it shows how indiscipline and compromised our security agencies, especially the police can be in the country. If this could happen to governors, it then means that the ordinary man on the streets cannot associate freely," Sajoh added. Meanwhile, strong indications have emerged that notwithstanding the companionship between the breakaway faction of the ruling PDP and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), governors backing the Baraje-led group may not join the opposition.
LEADERSHIP learnt that even though most of the pro-new PDP governors, otherwise known as the G-7, have opened discussions with the APC, both parties are said to be considering the legal implications of outright defection from the PDP.
A source in the APC also linked the delay in the nationwide registration exercise in the party to the development, as the G-7 governors have insisted on joining the party same time with others if and when they finally agree to defect. This is even as reports have it that both the presidency and the leadership of the PDP have mapped out strategies to declare vacant the seat of any of the new PDP governors or their supporters in the National Assembly who defects.
The leadership of the APC has been going round the country wooing the G-7 governors.
As at last count, the APC lobby team has held discussions with the following G-7 governors: Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto State), Sule Lamido (Jigawa State), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa State) and Rabiu Kwakwanso (Kano State). The train is expected in Rivers State today.
But a presidency source corroborated by a chieftain of the party disclosed to our correspondent that much as both President Goodluck Jonathan and the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, believe in the ongoing reconciliation, they would not shy away from "using the law to fight back".
"The APC leaders in their desperate ambition to rule the country at all cost have been to Sokoto, Jigawa, Kano and Adamawa. I also read in your paper today (yesterday) that they are going to Port Harcourt tomorrow (today) to ask Governor Rotimi Amaechi to decamp to their party. I wish them good luck. President Goodluck Jonathan, like I always tell you, strongly believes in the reconciliation. He promised former President Obasanjo to have a dialogue with them and that is what he is doing, but, from all indications, these people are hell-bent on decamping.
"If they do this, they should not forget that the offices they are currently occupying were given to them through the party, PDP, and with the subsisting court rulings and the position of INEC, it clear that there is no faction within PDP because that is the only reason someone could defect and still keep his office. Once these people leave the party, they should resign or we ask them to go." Speaking in the same vein, the party source said: "The earlier they defect, the better for us to know those who truly belong to the party. Let them go to their new party, and I hope they know that the only truly democratic party in the country today is PDP. If they doubt this, they should ask (former vice president) Atiku and (former speaker, House of Representatives, Ghali Umar) Na'Abba who had tried them. Where is our former chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh, today? When last did you hear him? That is the stuff the opposition is made of."
When asked if the seats of those who decamp to APC or other parties would be declared vacant, he said, "The position of the law is clear. Let them try it and watch. There is no faction in our party. INEC has made that declaration and the court has declared them illegal; so let them turn their back at PDP and watch if we would do nothing."
The former national officer of the party who is also playing a leading role in the party said, "I am sure those governors know what I am telling you and the reason why none of them has come out to say bye-bye to PDP. And this is a big problem within the APC which desperately needs them. But let me tell the APC that they would wait for long because it is not feasible for any of those governors to decamp." According to the source, President Jonathan would meet with them and ask them to disown the opposition party. He would assure them that any of them that wishes to contest against him in the 2015 presidential primaries is welcome, but those who remain recalcitrant would be summoned by the disciplinary committee where they would be officially expelled and their offices declared vacant.