By Bolaji Buhari
A former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, on Monday said he had received the key to the sealed secretariat of the party in the state.
George spoke with newsmen in Ikeja after emerging from a meeting at the office of the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni.
The police had sealed the secretariat on Thursday as a result of crisis over who controlled the secretariat after the Supreme Court judgement affirming the leadership of Sen. Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee.
George and a factional Chairman, Mr Moshood Salvador, are staunch supporters of Makarfi, while another factional chairman, Mr Segun Adewale had been occupying the secretariat before the apex court sacked Ali Modu Sheriff, to whom he was aligned.
Adewale had, however, on Saturday, said that the National Caretaker Committee of PDP had ordered that the state secretariat should be handed over to Chief Bode George and other members of the party’s BoT in Lagos.
He said that the order was contained in a letter signed by the Secretary, National Caretaker Committee, Sen. Ben Obi, and addressed to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni.
George told newsmen in Ikeja on Thursday that the police complied with the request by the national secretariat of the party to give the key to him.
Brandishing the letter containing the request before newsmen, the party chieftain said the request was sequel to the court judgement in favour of the Makarfi-led caretaker committee.
He said the sacking of Ali Modu Sheriff meant that PDP was now one in the country under Makarfi.
George said Salvador was the chairman of the state as endorsed by the party ‘s National Executive Council meeting and the occupation of the secretariat by any other factional executive was illegal.
He said the leadership of Salvador in the state was very clear, as the party’s NEC did not include Lagos as one of the states with leadership issues.
The party chieftain dismissed beliefs in some quarters that there was crisis in the party, saying the party only had frictions, which would be resolved.
George said he would hand over the keys to the right party members who would hold party activities there.
“Let me assure all our people in Lagos that there is peace in the state’s chapter of the party.
“I have collected the key to the secretariat from the CP in the presence of Mrs Aduke Maina, a member of the Party ‘s Board of Trustees, and I will hand it over to my people.
“The secretariat will be open to all members. The notion that there is crisis in the state’s chapter is not true. Yes, there are frictions, but the national secretariat is alive; they moderate all our activities, “he said.
There was however a mild drama when Maina interrupted George, telling him to recognise that there were two factions in the state’s chapter.
She said it would not be fair for George to hand over the key to a particular group, suggesting the other faction should also be given access to the secretariat.
“Let me cut in here. The people here are not the only party members, there are still several other ones not here.
“So you cannot hand over the keys to only the people here. There is the other other group.
“We cannot shy away that there are no factions. There are factions. And others are PDP members too.
“If we want peace to reign, we should allow the other faction to hold meeting there too; it could be at different times,” she said and walked away to her car.
George, however faulted Maina’s suggestion, saying it would encourage division in the state chapter.
He said the apex court judgement already neutralised the debate of factions and saying different groups could hold meetings at the secretariat reeked of division.
The party chieftain emphasised that the era of violence and impunity was over in the state’s chapter and urged all members to keep the peace.
He warned that those who might want to threaten peace at the secretariat should be ready to face the law.
Also, speaking, Salvador said he was the chairman of the legally constituted party executive in the state.
He said he was duly elected as chairman at the party’s congress and that any other executive was illegal.
“I was duly elected at the party’s congress. And you journalists were there, isn’t it?
“Did you witness any other congress where another person was elected?
“So, I am the chairman and I have always been recognised up to the national level of the party,” he said.
When asked if he would extend olive branch to Adewale, Salvador was not direct in his reply.
He said every member of the party would be accommodated in the reconciliation process, so far they were PDP members.
“Everyone will be accommodated. That I can assure you,” he said. (NAN)