ANOTHER twist was added to the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Thursday, when scores of local hunters, in their full regalia, stormed the PDP national secretariat, armed with charms and cudgels.
The men, who chanted anti-Sheriff and pro-Ahmed Makarfi songs, openly displayed the charms and threatened to apply them to anybody who dared them over their mission to the national secretariat of the party, which was to flush out Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and provide adequate security for the Senator Makarfi-led caretaker committee until it completes its assignment.
Security personnel comprising the Police, DSS, Civil Defence Corps and private guards manning the secretariat looked on while the display lasted.
As of press time, the hunters still occupied the frontage of the secretariat with a vow to remain there till their mission was accomplished.
Earlier, rival supporters of the Senator Makarfi-led national caretaker committee of the party and claimant to the office of the national chairman, Senator Sheriff, were engaged in a bloody clash at the national secretariat, with at least one person badly injured.
The clash occurred as both groups stormed the office for the third day, brandishing posters in support of the different camps and fighting to take control of the Wadata Plaza Wuse Zone 5 edifice.
The pro-Makarfi group was the first to arrive at about 6.00 a.m., followed by Sheriff’s supporters who arrived about an hour later.
The Sheriff group’s attempt to seize control of the main gate led to a fight with the pro-Makarfi group who resisted them.
In the process, dangerous weapons such as cudgels and sticks were deployed in the free-for-all leading to injuries on both sides.
The pro-Makarfi group, however, prevailed as Sheriff’s supporters later retreated from the premises.
Also about 10 private security men believed to have been recruited from the South-East, by a prominent party chieftain from Anambra State to protect Sheriff, remained within the premises of the office not interfering with the proceeding.
The clash followed a meeting on Wednesday night by governors of the party, its Board of Trustees (BoT) and other stakeholders towards the resolution of the lingering leadership crisis.
Speaking after the meeting, which ended in the early hours of Thursday, at the Ondo State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, Makarfi reiterated his suspicion that Sheriff was being used by some forces to attempt to destroy the opposition.
Also answering questions from reporters, Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State warned against any attempt to scuttle opposition to the ruling party.
He said opposition was necessary to enable Nigerians to get value for their votes.
He said: “We must put it in the public domain that the PDP, whatever we are going through today, is a phase and very soon, the whole issue will be over.
“But we need to put it very clearly that Nigeria, as a country, needs an opposition party to make Nigerian get value for their votes. And any attempt to destroy the opposition in Nigeria is not going to be in the interest of democracy.
“We stand as a party to condemn interference, scuttle opposition and against strategic effort to destroy the PDP in Nigeria.”
Fayose assured that the PDP was ready to give a credible opposition to the government, which, he observed, had achieved nothing so far.
He added: “We want to make it very clear that the international community, well-meaning Nigerians must take note that the party, PDP, is prepared to give credible opposition to the government in power, that has so far achieved nothing in the space of one year of assumption of office.
“What I want to say very expressly is that the efforts of the PDP to put its house in order is our business and we are doing everything possible and want to appeal to the security agencies to please operate within the ambit of law, allow the PDP to put its house in order, to support without interference, every effort to let Nigerians have a credible opposition as we move forward in Nigeria.