Rivers PDP Leaders Exchange Blows in Abuja, Nyesom Wike at the Forefront
Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from Rivers State, yesterday exchange blows in Abuja during a meeting that was meant to lead to peace in the party.
The leaders, most of whom have been at loggerhead over the governorship candidate of the party in the 2015 general election had gathered at the Legacy House, the Abuja presidential campaign office of the PDP for a meeting.
The meeting was meant to seek an amicable resolution to the disagreements in the party.
Trouble however started when a former Commissioner for Water Resources in Rivers State, Mr. Lolo Ibienye, was trying to defend a petition he submitted to the PDP Integration Panel hearing complaints from aggrieved party members from the South-south zone.
He was attacked by thugs who were reportedly station at the venue of the meeting by the Minister of State for Education Mr. Nyesom Wike, who is a political opponent to Mr. Ibeinye.
Wike himself reportedly rained punches on Mr. Ibienye during that process.
This then degenerated into a fisticuff with others participating in the fight, with cudgels landing heads and blows hit many on their faces.
A man was said to have gotten soaked in his blood after he was hit on the face by the boot of a policeman’s gun. Another got thrown out of the venue to nurse his wounds.
Wike however, denied any link with the rampaging thugs. In a telephone conversation with one of our correspondents hours after the incident, the Minister denied beating anybody at the venue.
He said: “Nobody attacked anybody. The meeting was peaceful. Anybody who had something to present was allowed to make their presentation. How could I have prevented them from presenting their memorsanda. They said I beat somebody? How can I do that?”
Speaking with reporters shortly after his ordeal, Ibienyen said: “The Minister of State, Education, Nyesom Wike, brought people to stop petitioners from going to defend their petitions.
“Only a few people were allowed into the hall. Twenty-two petitions were received from Rivers State and only four out of the 22 persons who petitioned were allowed to defend their petitions.
“Professor Israel Owate presented his own. Chief Paworiso Samuel Horsefall presented his own report. Barrister Alalivo Frederick and Elechukwu Ogbowu presented their own.
“In an attempt to stop the molestation and harassment of party stakeholders from entering the hall to defend their petitions, Wike physically shoved me and rained punches on me.
“The molestation of stakeholders and reporters should not have happened; it is not necessary at all. If it happened in Abuja with just a few of us in attendance, what would have happened if the meeting had taken place in Rivers State?
“The national leadership of the party must know that all is not well with Rivers PDP. It is a clear indication that PDP in the state is sitting on a keg of gun powder, waiting to explode.”
Many others who attempted to enter the hall where the Prof. Iya Abubakar-led panel was sitting were beaten with cudgels, sticks and bottles.
One of them, a lawyer who gave his name as Tamuno Dick, got a deep cut on his face from the boot of a policeman’s gun.
Dick, who claimed to be the legal adviser of the Network for the Defence of Democracy and Good Governance, a rival group to Wike’s GDI, was soaked in blood, as the white handkerchief he used as compress could not stop the bleeding.
Another chieftain of the party, Chief Anamsara Igbe, was also manhandled.
He told reporters that he was robbed of N50, 000 cash and that the documents he brought to back his petition were taken away from him by thugs.
Igbe said: “I was robbed. They collected my documents from me in the hall. They took the party constitution, the memorandum I submitted and the money from me.
“They robbed me and took all the money. If that is what is called reconciliation, I don’t see how that can be reconciliation. Rivers State is a delicate state. The same Wike himself is tearing PDP apart.
“And if that continues, PDP will fail. Mr President should listen to us or he will fail in Rivers State. Politics is a game of interest. Our interest is that governorship must rotate in Rivers State”.
Another party chieftain, Dr. Innocent Ekwu, who also had a brush with the thugs, gave an account of the encounter:
“I arrived with my delegates only to meet thugs at the entrance of the hall, beating up other governorship aspirants, beating up other leaders of the party who are not members of Grassroots Democratic Initiative (GDI).
“In my presence, Professor Owate was beaten and thrown out of the entrance. Lolo Ibieyen was also beaten up by the Honourable Minister of Education.
“I saw it with my two eyes. I was shocked to witness this type of tyranny, misconduct in the open glare before a multitude. And the worst is that the security men who were there stood aloof and could not call them to order.
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