4th December, 2014
Aggrieved PDP aspirants for Rivers House of Assembly and their supporters on Wednesday in Abuja blocked the entrance of the party`s national headquarters and barred party officials and staff from their offices.
NAN reports that the aspirants protested against the non issuance of clearance certificates by the party to the aggrieved aspirants for the Nov. 29, state House of Assembly primaries.
The aspirants and their supporters had as early as 6:30 a.m., blocked the Secretariat’s entrance, carrying different placards and chanting songs.
They also carried a coffin with the poster of one of the frontline governorship aspirants of the state.
Party officials and members of staff were barred from gaining access into their offices as they were seen hanging around outside the premises.
Mr Amadi Uzoma, one of the aspirants who spoke with NAN, said the protesters were at the headquarters to meet members of the National Working Committee of the party, to inform them of their plight.
According to him, the aspirants have made concerted effort in the past to meet with the PDP leadership on the issue with a view to addressing it but to no avail.
He added that according to the party`s constitution, after 24 hours of screening, copies of all qualified aspirants and those disqualified would be made public, stressing that this was not done.
“If you did not go through the primaries, there should be a room for you to go for appeal, and non-actually came in place.”
Uzoma, who is contesting the Omuma constituency, said that about 80 per cent of the aspirants for the Rivers House of Assembly primaries were disenfranchised.
He said their names were not in the least of aspirants released by the party`s leadership to participate in the primaries.
Uzoma also alleged that only members of the Grassroots Democratic Initiative (GDI), owned by one of the Rivers governorship aspirants, was cleared by the PDP leadership to contest the primaries.
He said that he had been a member of the PDP since 1999 and therefore had every right to contest elections on its platform.
“If I am not cleared, I should be told why I am not cleared so I can also go to appeal and nothing like that happened.”
He, however, expressed optimism that the action would help resolve the issue, adding “If we seat back and do not come here, nobody will talk to us”.
Efforts made by NAN to get a reaction from the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, to the development, however, proved abortive.
NAN reports that the police, however, later dispersed the protesters by using the tear gas.
The Police Pubic Relations Officer, FCT, Mr Peter Okechukwu, told newsmen that “we have been pleading with them to disperse and go home but all the plea fell on a deaf ear.
“We don’t have any other option; the law has empowered us that once the constitutional right is breached, we have to do what is lawful and that is what we did”.
He said that the protesters were free to return if they would be peaceful in their protest. “This is FCT and we can guarantee them reasonable time so long as it does not affect the rights of other people but once it goes beyond that, it becomes unlawful and unacceptable.
“What we did is normal; we did not use any violent means to disperse them. We contacted party officials and enough time had already been given; this is nobody’s home.
“The protest is no longer acceptable because it has stayed longer than necessary,” he said.