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Why 70-busload of Edo PDP supporters were barred from Abuja

Posted by By ONYEDI OJIABOR on 2008/06/28 | Views: 2447 |

Why 70-busload of Edo PDP supporters were barred from Abuja

The Minister of Interior, Maj. Gen. Godwin Abbe (rtd), has shed light on why 70 busload of Peoples Democratic Party supporters from Edo State were barred from entering the Federal Capital Territory last week.

The Minister of Interior, Maj. Gen. Godwin Abbe (rtd), has shed light on why 70 busload of Peoples Democratic Party supporters from Edo State were barred from entering the Federal Capital Territory last week.

He said the action was meant to prevent a breakdown of law and order in the FCT.

Abbe spoke to our correspondent in an interview in Abuja on Friday.

He said that the party supporters were rented by the Edo State Governor, Prof Oserheimen Osunbor, to storm the PDP National Headquarters ahead of the verdict of the party‘s National Working Committee on the intra-party crisis in the state.

He said that the clarification became necessary following unwarranted misrepresentations of the incident by the governor‘s aides.

The minister said that the intra-party crisis led to two camps in the state, one led by the former Chairman Board of Trustees of PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, and another led by Osunbor.

The two camps, he said, reported the deepening crisis to the National Headquarters of the party for resolution and that at each occasion, the factions were represented by seven people from both sides.

Abbe said that the day NWC was scheduled to deliver its decision on the issues at stake, the governor rented 70 busload of party supporters and possible thugs to storm Abuja for unexplained reasons.

He said that based on security report, the attention of the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, and Federal Capital Territory Authorities was drawn to the situation.

The minister said that FCDA authorities and Okiro felt that it was ”absolutely necessary to stop the mob from entering Abuja in the interest of peace and tranquility in the area.”

He noted that it was unbecoming of anybody to rent over 70 busload of party supporters to come to Abuja no matter what was expected from NWC.

Abbe said that the implication was that if the judgment was not favourable to the governor, there could be a breach of the peace and mayhem.

He said that there was more to it than met the eye for the governor to decide to rent over 70 vehicles instead of the usual seven representatives.

He said that the supporters were advised to go back o Edo State and select seven representatives which included Chief Samuel Ogbemudia and Osunbor to represent the camp.

He said, ”In present day politicking, if that kind of crowd was allowed in Abuja and if the pronouncement was such that it was very negative against Osunbor‘s camp, the people would have become irate and they would have taken over the PDP national headquarters.

”Immediately tempers rise, what you would expect would be mayhem and breakdown of law and order in Abuja.”

On the allegation that 500 of the party faithful were still being detained in Abuja , he described it as “cheap blackmail, uncivilised and absolutely unnecessary.”

He said, ”I understand that there are 500 party faithful from Osunbor‘s camp who are still in detention in Abuja.

”I feel that the publication was unfortunate. If there are 500 detainees in Abuja, where are they? Where are they detained? Are they in the streets or in prison? Which of the prison? They should tell us and also print their names in the papers.

”It is not enough to invite President Musa Yar‘Adua, to go and free citizens in detention. The police doesn‘t detain at will. If anybody is a suspect and is suspected to have committed crime, police have authority in this country to detain him no matter how high or low he is.

”If 500 people are being detained that is not a mean number. The press should have been interested and it will be in the papers. Those behind the story should have said the prison they are kept.

“In any case, since we are in an era of the rule of law, they don‘t need to call Mr. President. All they need is to call a lawyer to defend their case and to bail those detained. I think the whole thing is cheap blackmail, uncivilized and absolutely unnecessary.”

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