Romanus Ugwu, Molly Kilete, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja, Tony Osauzo, Benin and Tony John, Port Harcourt
In the early hours of yesterday, several security personnel, acting on “order from above” in a commando style, stormed the national secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja, drove out workers, visitors and journalists, ostensibly to forestall breakdown of law and order.
The fierce-looking men, who included operatives of the special forces of the Department of State Services (DSS) also barred members of the National Working Committee (NWC) loyal to the suspended National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, from going into the complex.
There presence spread palpable fear, tension and confusion at the administrative headquarters of the ruling party and its environs.
The ‘invasion’ which came barely 24 hours after some party stakeholders protested at the secretariat and demanded the dissolution of the National Working Committee, opened another page in the leadership crisis rocking the party.
The party’s leadership crisis took a new turn after the Court of Appeal in Abuja upheld the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole as national chairman.
Abiola Ajimobi, former Oyo governor was named acting chairman, but Victor Giadom, deputy national secretary, kicked against it, declaring himself the acting national chairman.
On Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari met with some governors and Senate President Ahmad Lawan as part of measures to resolve the crisis.
The deployment, yesterday, according to sources, was on the instance of Giadom, who was infuriated by the directive by a national officer to break his office after the inauguration Bom Worgu as his replacement on Monday.
Investigations also revealed that armed with the court order authorising him to take charge of the party, Giadom had approached the IGP to give an order to the FCT Commissioner of Police to seal the secretariat.
A source said Giadom was infuriated that instead of seeking peace, Boms was brought in as his replacement by the South South National Vice Chairman, Hilliard Eta.
But it was also learnt that the order to seal the secretariat might have come from the Presidency. Another source said miffed by the tensed situation at the secretariat following the claims by different members of the national leadership, the presidency had issued the directive to mitigate the situation from deteriorating.
The crisis at the secretariat had thrown staff into confusion creating anxiety over the future of the party and their employment status.
Acting National Secretary, Waziri Bulama, who arrived the secretariat at 12.10pm was allowed entry into the complex, but denied entry into his office. He tried to convince the security agents to allow him into his office, after making frantic telephone calls for help, but got none, zoomed out of the secretariat.
Some staff expressed concerns over the uncertainty in the ruling party, fearing they might not be paid their salary this week.
“We don’t care who becomes the party chairman, but we are no longer comfortable with the situation in the party. How do we get our salary under this condition of things. The situation is even more precarious that the crisis has created financial crunch in the party,” a staff told Daily Sun.
Following the return of peace at the secretariat in the evening, the pro-Oshiomole NWC arrived in convoy and headed to the NEC Hall for a meeting.
Meanwhile, the crisis may linger longer than expected as Giadom has convened an emergency virtual National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting for Thursday this week.
Claiming that he was authorised by Muhammadu Buhari to reconvene the NEC meeting earlier scheduled for March 17, he warned that only those given the code would participate in the virtual meeting, and that those that will participate physically will also be informed.
“The reconvened meeting shall hold on Thursday, June 25,. Venue shall be the State House, Abuja. However, in keeping strictly to the COVID-19 guidelines, the postponed NEC shall proceed by virtual means. The codes would be sent by text to the phone numbers of all NEC members. Those to be physically present at the State House, Abuja, would also be communicated,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja has said it deployed personnel to the party secretariat to maintain law and order and nothing more.
Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, in a statement maintained that the police did not seal the party secretariat as its being alleged but to prevent any untoward situation within and around the secretariat.
“The presence of police personnel at the Secretariat is not to seal-up the complex as has been reported in some quarters but rather to prevent any untoward situation within and around the APC National Secretariat.
“Members of the APC as well as staff of the secretariat are, therefore, at liberty to conduct their legitimate businesses, in and around the Secretariat as always,” he said in a statement.