From CHRIS ANUCHA, Port Harcourt
Police in Rivers State yesterday sealed off the secretariat of the factional Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), led by Abubakar Kawu Baraje, a few minutes after it was officially opened by the Chief of Staff, Rivers State Government House, Chief Tony Okocha.
In fact, Okocha, his party members and journalists, were still at the premises of the secretariat, when the policemen, led by the Deputy Commissioner, State Criminal Investigation Department(SCID), Mr. Sam Okaula, stormed the premises, otherwise known as Unity House, located at 38 Forces Avenue, and chased them away.
The policemen, who were said to be acting on ‘orders from above’, not only removed the national and PDP flags already hoisted, they also dismantled the poles used in hoisting them.
The secretariat is located direct opposite the old GRA Police division, 37, Forces Avenue. It was also gathered that the building, serving as the secretariat, was the campaign office of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, from where the Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, who was in charge of his campaign in 2011, operated.
Some overzealous policemen, who tried to prevent journalists from capturing what transpired, molested and damaged their cameras. At the time of filing the report, many mobile policemen have been deployed in the area, to take over the secretariat, while Amoured Personnel Carriers(APC), and many police patrol vans were stationed there.
DCP Okaula told reporters that the police would not sit back and watch people, taking the laws into their hands.
He said: “We will not allow anybody to take laws into his hands. We will go all out, to ensure that we maintain law and order in this state.
“Anybody that takes law into his hands will be dealt with accordingly. That’s exactly what we have done. We have no other secretariat here and anybody, who has come here to hoist any flag will be dealt with. That’s what we have done and nothing more than that.”
Earlier, Okocha told journalists that the office of the state chapter of the “New PDP” was opened in strict obedience to the directive of the Baraje-led national leadership.
He expressed hope that the new secretariat would usher in fresh air and democratic renewal in the state and the country in general.
He said: “The “New PDP” is a national response to the impunity, recklessness and dictatorial tendencies, typical of the former leadership of our party. I therefore, urge the party executive in the state, to immediately commence the mobilization of party men and women, to deliver the party from the stranglehold of tyrants.
“I commend the Governors of Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kwara, Niger, our indefatigable Governor of Rivers State and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and other adherents, for this uncommon display of courage. They are indeed heroes of democracy. On Abubakar Kawu-Baraje -led national leadership of the PDP we stand,” Okocha said.