There was pandemonium in Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi state on Monday as police and a faction of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) clashed at the party secretariat.
This followed attempts by the Fred Udogu led faction to take over the Secretariat.
The Secretariat has been under lock and key for a while following the factionalization of the party.
The party became factionalized following the defection of the State Governor David Umahi to the All Progressive Congress (APC).
The National Executive of the PDP had in November last year, after the governor’s defection, dissolved the state Executives of the party including the State Working Committee led by Onyekachi Nwebonyi.
The party also set up a Caretaker Committee led by Fred Udogu to oversee the party in the state in the interim.
But Mr. Nwebonyi and other members of the dissolved SWC challenged their dissolution at the State High Court.
The matter had suffered several adjournments even as three Judges have recused themselves from the matter.
The Fred Udogu faction last two weeks instituted another case at an Abuja High Court on the same matter.
The faction also reportedly secured an injunction barring the Nwebonyi committee from parading themselves as the authentic leadership of the party in the state.
Armed with the alleged injunction, the Udogu faction moved to take over the secretariat Monday.
Its members in their hundreds besieged the Secretariat around 10am but Security Agencies arrived and dispersed them.
When our reporter visited the scene, it was chaotic as the security agencies with an Armoured Personal Carrier were seen firing shots into the air which led to the PDP members running away in different directions.
It was gathered that the security agencies arrested some of the members including the Youth Leader of the Udogu faction, Obinna Iteshi.
Publicity Secretary of the Udogu faction, Silas Ọnụ lamented the arrest of the Youth Leader and other members.
He said: “Today, we are deeply saddened to report that the lives of Ebonyi people are no longer valuable to those mandated to protect them.
“Upon a valid Court order which restrained Nwebonyi and his urchins from parading themselves as leaders or even members of the People’s Democratic Party, we duly notified the police of our intention to access our Secretariat today”.
“Upon arrival, the police were obviously ordered to frustrate that effort and they swung into action. Firstly, the Deputy Commissioner in Charge of Operations asked that we go and obtained a “Enforcement Order” as if the case is one requiring further order (s) to give validity to the initial order – this is laughable!,” he said
The spokesperson further said that the Police started arresting their members on a spurious claim that the Secretariat which was previously vandalised is now being vandalised Monday.
“Later today, Mr. Nwebonyi will hold a press conference alleging this falsehood as a cover up for his criminal act of willful vandalism and stealing of PDP properties.
“We have made this complaint a long time ago, but the Police has refused, neglected or failed to even open any investigation.
“It is very interesting how the police is now being used to play out a script that promotes disorder and fuels crisis in Ebonyi State”.
Continuing he said: “if the Ebonyi Police Command is no longer the Nigerian Police, it will be good for us to be notified as we can no longer trust a public institution that is clearly working to create division, crisis and disorder through the overt act of subverting a valid court order and encouraging a renegade to cover his crimes. Watch out for Nwebonyi’s press briefing later today.
“Now, we are only left with the option of pleading with the DSS to do the needful and restore Order in Ebonyi State as this little spark is not a healthy sign.
“It may appear innocuous, but only God knows how such senseless attack end. The lives of many people is a stake here.
He said the police have been shooting in the area for over an hour.
“Our Youth Leader, Obinna Iteshi was arrested by police for no other reason but that he was wearing a PDP cloth. This is unnecessary.
“We are calling on the Police to immediately change their way and return to the path of honour by standing with the people – Governors come and go, but the people remain.”
“Finally, we are calling on all our members to remain law abiding. Do not be lured by this clear call for provocation. We are a civilised party. Violence is not our modus operandi.
“It is now up to the Police to ensure law and order and also enforce a valid Court order. Anything other than that is double standard and a clear call for disorder,” he added.
But Mr. Nwenonyi in a reaction said the Ụdogụ faction has no court injunction as they claimed with which to take over the Secretariat.
He said those arrested were nabbed for plotting to burn down the Secretariat.
Police spokesperson in the state, Loveth Odah said she was yet to get details of the incident.
When contacted, Commissioner of Police, Aliyu Garba said he was busy trying to handle the matter.
“Call me back later, that is what I am trying to settle now please,” he said.