There were twin protests at the national secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday, in Abuja, by supporters of Senators Ali Modu Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi, who are locked in a legal tussle for the party's chairmanship.
The first group of protesters, mostly women, who stormed the party's headquarters at about 11:17 am were chanting songs in favour of Makarfi, but after 30 minutes, another group of protesters comprising youths arrived and were celebrating Sheriff as chairman of the party.
Shortly after the event, which was almost turning into a fatal clash, men of the Nigeria Police Force arrived and dispersed all the protesters, taking over the secretariat in the process.
The major route leading to the main entrance gate was barricaded by two police vans and tyres, while vehicular movement on that lane was restricted.
However, our correspondent who went into the building observed that work was ongoing. The fence and main building was given a face lift while cleaners had resumed official duties.
Some of the workers who spoke with Daily Trust confirmed that Sheriff had mobilised them to give the secretariat a face lift in order for official activities to resume, following his victory at the Appeal Court, Port Harcourt.
However, both Senator Makarfi and Sheriff are set to slug it out at the Supreme Court following the appeal of the Port Harcourt judgement by the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee.
Addressing newsmen yesterday, in Abuja, the Spokesman for the Committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye called on the police and lovers of democracy to stop Sheriff from occupying the party's headquarters pending the determination of the suit at the Supreme Court.
He expressed optimism that Makarfi would win at the Apex Court, but stressed that the police had taken side in the crisis within the party in favour of Sheriff.
"We wish to remind the public that the recent Court of Appeal Judgment was based on the Appeal filed by Senator Sheriff and Co. against the Judgment of Justice Liman J of the FHC inPort Harcourt that upheld the legality and constitutionality of the May 21st 2016 National Convention that took place in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and the decisions arising therefrom.
"Because Senator Sheriff claimed that he has appealed against that Judgment, the law enforcement agencies denied the National Caretaker Committee and the employees access into the National Secretariat. Now that the party led by the National Caretaker Committee has filed appeal against the recent judgment, the status quo ante remains until the determination of the Appeal to the Supreme Court.
"Also, we have it on good authority that the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi has deployed his former Abuja Liaison Officer who was a former Intermediate Officer of the party, Mr. John Enebeli among others to lure some members of staff in support of Senator Sheriff by promising them huge sums of money to offset their outstanding allowances," he said.
However, former political adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Barrister Ahmed Gulak told newsmen yesterday, that the Makarfi group should stop using the Supreme court to frighten anyone, adding that the court is an institution which belongs to no one.
"They talk about getting victory at Supreme Court as if it is their personal property. They should know that court is a public institution. As it stands today, Ali Modu Sheriff remains the authentic chairman because the current judgement of the Appeal Court has nullified all the judgements or orders of the lower courts. All the judgements and orders of the federal High Courts remain invalid.
"This crisis is an unnecessary crisis that has taken a very negative toll on the party. The PDP is supposed to be a viable opposition party that will bring out the ills and shortcomings of the ruling party but we have been wasting our energy on internal squabbles," he said.