The struggle for leadership of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is growing.
The police yesterday took over the party’s secretariat, preventing people, including journalists, from entering the premises.
The blockade, party sources said, was to prevent ousted Chairman Ali Modu Sheriff from entering into the secretariat or the chairman’s office.
He was on Saturday deposed in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, venue of a botched national convention organised by his loyalists, spearheaded mainly by Governors Ayo Fayose (Ekiti) and Nyesom Wike (Rivers).
But Sheriff is fighting back, insisting that he remains the chairman. He could not enter the secretariat yesterday for a scheduled news conference he planned to address.
The police blocked the 70-metre public access road to the two gates leading to the secretariat with trucks at both ends, forcing Sheriff to change the venue of the briefing.
He is fighting the battle alongside the National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, who had been fighting through the courts to retain his position a few days before the botched convention.
The Concerned PDP Stakeholders, a body being coordinated by a former Information Minister, Prof. Jerry Gana is challenging the choice of a former Kaduna State governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, as chairman of the interim caretaker committee.
The committee, which was hurriedly cobbled together by the party’s governors at the botched convention grounds in Port Harcourt, is meant to run the affairs of the party and prepare the ground for the conduct of an acceptable convention.
But the Gana group has faulted Makarfi’s appointment, saying it was a violation of the PDP’s constitution. Citing the constitution, the group, insisted that the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) is the only body vested with such powers.
A former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, who co-chairs the Concerned Stakeholders group, had called on the governors to allow the BoT assume the responsibility.
Speaking at a media briefing, Mantu said: “It is now time for the BoT to step in and take charge. It is there in our constitution that in a situation like this, the BoT, which is the conscience of the party as well as the father of the party, should step in immediately.
“In this situation, therefore, the BoT leadership must take up responsibilities for the running of the affairs of the party and bring all members back home for us to sit down and find a way forward as members of one family.”
Efforts by our correspondent to get the reaction of the BoT chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, failed.
A meeting between Sheriff and Oladipo was still ongoing at the time this report was being filed at 6.35 p.m. on Sunday.