Rivers PDP rivals exchange blows in Abuja

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There was pandemonium at the National Campaign Office of the Peoples Democratic Party, Maitama, Abuja on Thursday as politicians suspected to be loyalists of the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, beat his suspected opponents.

Wike is among those aspiring to be the governorship candidate of the party in Rivers State in 2015.

The thugs, who were in their tens, used dangerous weapons, such as stick, bottles and stones to scare away members of the party from the state from gaining entrance into the building, where members of the National Integration Committee, South-South zone, were meeting.

The meeting was aimed at settling grievances among members of the ruling party in the zone and Thursday was allotted to hear the grievances of those aggrieved in Rivers State.

But only Wike and his supporters were allowed to enter the venue of the meeting.

Many opponents of the minister, who came to present petitions to the Senator Iya Abubakar-led committee were beaten up by the thugs.

Those beaten included a legal practitioner, Mr. Tabotamuno Dick; a former Commissioner for Water Resources under former Governor Peter Odili, Mr. Lolo Ibieneye; Prof. Israel Owate, Dr. Sowaribi Tolofari, Mr. Sara Egbe and Chief Bekinbo Sobrekon.

Some journalists were also harassed while others had either their cameras damaged or their tape recorders seized.

Dick, who is a legal adviser to the Network for Defence of Democracy and Good Governance, suffered an injury near his left eye as a result of the beating.

While the thugs were beating him, policemen attached to the venue of the meeting refused to intervene, as one of them said they were handicapped because of the personalities involved.

However, the policemen joined the thugs to chase away rival politicians who were said not to be members of Wike’s Grassroots Democratic Initiatives.

Dick, who spoke with our correspondent after the incident, said, “I came to defend the petition we sent to the committee, but see what happened here today.

“I have been beaten by thugs and these thugs were joined by the policemen attached to someone who wants to be a governor of my state. We shall wait to see.”

Ibineneye also said that he was shoved and beaten, but warned that the PDP in the state would soon explode, adding that what happened in Abuja would have been a child’s play if the meeting had held in the state.

He said that out of 22 people who brought petitions to the committee, only four people were allowed inside.

Another aggrieved member, who was also harassed and sent out through the gate of the building, Sarigbe insisted that there was no way another Ikwerre person would succeed the current governor of the state, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.

Sarigbe, who is from Aku Local Government Area of the state, said, “They are violating the party’s constitution in the state because the party recognises zoning of offices in the state and everywhere.

“I’m a foundation member of the party in the state. These people went through the back door and brought a two-man executive. Since these two men came, they have been violating the party’s constitution. The party should listen to us or the party would fail in the state.”

Wike, after the meeting, insisted that there was peace in the state PDP.

“There is peace in the party in the state,” he said in a brief interview after the meeting.

Some of the protesters later went to the national headquarters of the party, where they were addressed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh.

While addressing them, Metuh assured them that the party leadership would not allow the imposition of candidates on members in any state of the federation.

The PDP spokesman maintained that the party members would be given the opportunity to elect and nominate aspirants of their choice who would eventually become the party’s candidate for elections in 2015.

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