10th August, 2010
The former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Austin Opara, has condemned the arrest of 12 members of a faction of the Rivers State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, at their parallel party office at No.25 Ohaeto Street, D/Line in Port Harcourt yesterday.
Opara told P.M.NEWS on phone that due to the frustration of some members of the party in the state, and the refusal of the leadership of PDP at the national level to intervene in the party’s crisis, other stakeholders decided to form a parallel PDP.
According to Opara, â€œour faction of the party is led by Chief Lolo Ibineye, former campaign manager for Celestine Omehia and also Commissioner. We learnt that the Rivers State Government would be taking the 12 arrested party supporters to court this morning.â€
Asked if the arrest of the supporters of their of faction of PDP would not frustrate the effective take off of the structure of their faction, he said: â€œThe arrest of our supporters is good because for once it helps to bring to the fore that there is parallel faction that would give voice to those who have been shut out in the activities of the present leadership of PDP in the state. People now know there is opposition and parallel PDP in the state.â€
He accused the present leadership of PDP in the state of lack of internal democracy as the PDP secretariat in the state is permanently under lock. He dismissed the claim by the state government that they are â€œcultists and party thugs.â€
However, in an earlier statement on behalf of the Rivers State Government endorsed by Magnus Abe, the Secretary to the state government, SSG, last night claimed that â€œinformation received by the security agencies in Rivers State indicate that today, Monday, August 09, 2010, some hired thugs and cultists had gathered at a house somewhere in Port Harcourt and were conducting themselves in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace.
â€œThe security agencies on receiving the report acted swiftly to contain the situation, whereupon their political paymasters emerged.
â€œIt is clear, therefore, that the actions of these persons were sponsored by the so-called Abuja Group, with a clear intention of trying to use violence to create some disturbances in the state capital to attract attention.
Abe said further that â€œHoisting the Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party flag, over that kind of activity cannot give it any kind of legitimacy.Â Clearly, the security agencies cannot fold their arms to allow developments capable of causing the breach of the peace.
â€œThe Rivers State Government has gone over and beyond the call of duty to make the state safe for diverse opinions to thrive.
â€œMeetings of our Political opponents are held daily in the state, and we encourage them and protect them, because we not only believe in democracy and the rule of law but we stringently believe and practice it.
â€œHowever, the laws of the land should be respected by all.Â The police will investigate the incident and the law will take its course, regardless of whose ox is gored.â€
Meanwhile, a statement by the Publicity Secretary of the PDP called â€œRestoration Team,â€ Jerry Needam, said: â€œThe Rivers State government made good its persistent threat of silencing opposition in the state as over 200 PDP members were rounded off by security operatives in Port Harcourt.
â€œThe party members who belong to parallel faction of PDP in the state were at the time of their arrest meeting at the Party Secretariat office located at 25 Ohaeto Street,D/line, Port Harcourt.â€
The faction recalled that “Sequel to prolonged crisis in Rivers PDP and the divisive tendencies of Governor Amaechiâ€™s Administration, which have engendered apathyÂ and disharmony in the party, a faction that felt aggrieved and disconnected had to break away and establish a parallel PDP secretariat in the state to save the larger PDP from imminent collapse in the state and most importantly ensure that the South-South region and the Niger Delta succeed in ensuring that our son, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan continues in office beyond 2011.”
The party factional Publicity Secretary, Needam, on behalf of the faction called for the â€œunconditional release of those arrested in connection of with the President Jonathan 2011 project as the problem is an internal matter of PDP which can be resolved internally.â€
â€”Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt