By; Bala B. Bitrus, Minna.
A detachment of anti riot Police men Thursday morning attempted to abort a meeting of stakeholders of the troubled opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) at the party’s secretariat in Minna.
Party’s chieftains from across the twenty five local government areas of the state led by the state’s executive members of the party had converged at the secretariat of the party along the Eastern bye pass for a “crucial meeting” but discovered shortly after their arrival before the scheduled meeting commence that the whole place was infiltrated by Police men.
The PDP members from all the 25 local government areas of the state had arrived the party secretariat as early as 9.00 am but got words that Policemen were dispatched to the place to stop the meeting without prior notice.
The meeting was to decide on what step to take on the current stand up within the party at the national level.
Only last Thursday, the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt had ruled in favour of Sen. Ali Sheriff’s faction as the bonafide national Chairman of the Party.
Barely three days later, after the court verdict, Sheriff came to Minna on shuttle visit to former Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu and erstwhile Military President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.
Our Correspondent gathered that the armed Policemen had stormed the venue of the meeting to enforce an “order from above” to stop the meeting from holding.
But if the Police were ready, they met a robust and proactive opposition from the stakeholders who stood vehemently and rejected the Police overbearance.
By the time the Police got to the party secretariat, the main auditorium of the secretariat was already filled with the party members.
All attempts by the Police to stop the meeting was aborted. But Police quickly came up with another plan. They used one of their patrol vehicles with registration number, NPF 9993 C to block the main entrance into the party secretariat to stop further movements into the facility and this drew the attention of party members who were already in the hall. They soon trooped out to challenge the Police.
Chairman of the PDP in the state, Barr. Tanko Beji who got wind of the development, later led some officials of the party to the Police headquarters and met with the state Commissioner of Police, Mu’azu Zubairu.
Beji had told the Police Boss that the meeting was purely a party affair without any plan to cause a breach of the peace as being alleged by the Police.
The meeting was almost through when another detachment of Policemen stormed the secretariat for a second time asking that the meeting should stop.
This led to a near fracas between some youths of the party and the Policemen who tried to force their way into the hall to stop the meeting that had progressed despite the initial hitch.
Not done with the mission to frustrate them at all cost, a plain cloth security personnel accompanied by an armed escort however entered the hall where they met members in prayer session for the repose of the soul of late former Governor of Niger state and backbone of the party, Engr. Abdulkhadir Abdullahi Kure.
Our correspondent gathered that the security men who had initially attempted to arrest the state party Chairman, shelve the plan on sensing that their action could cause breakdown of law and order.
The Police later persuaded the Chairman and other executive members of the party who were at the meeting to leave the party’s secretariat so that other members who had come from all parts of the state could leave the premises.
Speaking to newsmen later, Beji described the Police action as an act of provocation and molestation.
He said the situation where Policemen tried at all cost to provoke and stop members of a peaceful political party in the state from holding their meeting is “undemocratic and abuse of the fundamental right to free association and assemblage”. This he added is uncalled for”.
Beji said, “I don’t know when a peaceful political party meeting has become of interest to the police. There is no cause for alarm, there is no problem. They told us that they were informed we wanted to cause mayhem”.
He denounced the action of the Police as invasion. “Is there any sign that anybody was trying to cause mayhem or fight? He asked.
The PDP state Chairman also faulted the insinuations that there was any quarrel or misunderstanding among the members of the party in the state. “We are decent, law abiding citizens who value peace. We cannot cause breakdown of law and order”. He said.