Tukur, Baraje fight over PDP’s flag, symbols

Peace may be far from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the faction under the chairmanship of Alhaji Kawu Baraje has insisted it would continue to use the flag, colours, logo and symbols of the party, claiming that its members are authentic stakeholders of the party.

This position may neutralise the euphoria of the mainstream PDP under Alhaji Bamanga Tukur over the Friday judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja, where Justice Elvis Chukwu gave an order forbidding members of the Baraje faction from parading themselves as national officers of the PDP.

The Baraje group, composed of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and seven PDP governors, including Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State, Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State and Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, has insisted on the continued usage of the party symbols, flag, name and colours, just as it has also vowed to issue press statements on its activities. The group said as members of the PDP, it has every right to use the party’s flag, colours and symbols.

The group dared the Tukur-led executive to use state security agencies to harass and intimidate its supporters.
“They even had the temerity to describe us and our governors as criminals, warning that the heavens would fall if we should meet under any platform.

 By being so uncouth in addressing governors duly elected by Nigerians, Tukur and his disciples have one more vindicated our struggle to flush out these unholy and undemocratic elements from our party. We are confident that this is one mission we shall successfully accomplish by the grace of God, not minding the use of state security agencies to harass and intimidate our people,” the Baraje group said in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja.
The group said it is planning to receive new five state governors of the PDP who have indicated interest to join them.
It also said it has carefully studied Friday’s ruling by the Federal High Court, Abuja, which declared the National Working Committee (NWC) headed by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as the authentic leadership of the PDP.  It said its members are indifferent to the warning by the Tukur-led PDP.

The statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Eze Chukwuemeka, stated that, “Apart from deciding on the Federal High Court ruling and the challenges facing us as a group, the G7/Stakeholders/NWC Meeting slated for this week is expected to deliberate on how the new five governors of the PDP that have indicated interest to join the Baraje leadership will be received into the fold.”

However, it said, “As a group that has a lot of respect for the judiciary, we have accepted the ruling in good faith and wish to abide by it. Even so, we have directed our legal team to appeal the judgment as a matter of urgency as we remain convinced that we have a good case and are thus determined to ensure that Tukur and his cohorts are not allowed to hold sway as the leaders of our great party.”

The statement reiterated that Baraje as its national chairman has convened an emergency meeting of the G7, Stakeholders and the National Working Committee (NWC) of the new PDP to exhaustively discuss the new developments and chat the way forward, adding that there is no going back on its struggle to rescue PDP from the hands of those it described as usurpers.

“Let us reiterate that contrary to some insinuations in some quarters reflected in a section of the media that there is disunity amongst our governors and National Assembly members because of our current travails, the fact remains that instead of division, our current travails have strengthened us the more and act as a unifying factor that has shown us that it is a matter of time that the undemocratic elements that have seized our party will be dislodged,” the statement added.

It explained that the group pities Tukur and his NWC who are “already gloating over their victory.”
Clearly, the Baraje group’s stance is seen as an affront by the PDP because in less than 24 hours after the Friday ruling, the mainstream of the party warned that it would not tolerate any meeting, press statements, utterances under the name, flag and colour of the PDP by what it called any unauthorized persons or groups.

The PDP, in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said, “We wish, therefore, to state with all emphasis that any group of persons parading themselves as leaders of this organ of our party are impostors and must be treated as criminals by all and sundry.”
It stressed that, “Henceforth, the leadership of the PDP will no longer tolerate or condone any meeting, utterances, press statements and/or activities whatsoever under the name, flag and colour of the PDP by any unauthorized person or group(s) under any guise.”

But in a swift reaction, the Baraje group issued a counter statement, signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Eze Chukwuemeka, saying, “Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and his loyalists should not celebrate yet as any such celebration would be short-lived as we are more than ever determined to show him the way out of the exalted position he is illegally occupying; we insist that we have every right to continue using the PDP flag, symbol and colours, as we are bonafide members of the party and, thus, entitled to use them.”

Sources within the party told Daily Newswatch that the next few days may not be too rosy in the PDP as its intra party squabble reaches a climax. There are strong indications that the Tukur-led PDP executive is insisting on exerting the full pressure on the Baraje group, especially with its victory at the Abuja Federal High Court, and may clamp down on individuals and group under the guise of a new PDP.  Indeed, the Tukur-led executive had earlier said that members of the Baraje faction were impostors and must be treated as criminals.
Indeed, the Abuja Federal High Court had specifically restrained Atiku, Baraje, Sam Jaja, Olagunsoye Oyinlola and others from interfering in the activities of the Tukur-led PDP.

In the same vein, the court barred Atiku, who is believed to be the backbone of the new PDP, and their associates or employees from interfering and continued interference in the duties and functions of Tukur and other national officers of the party elected at the PDP mini-national convention held on August 31 in Abuja.
The October 18 judgment was informed by a suit filed by Tukur and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Baraje, Jaja, Oyinlola and Atiku.
It was believed by the Tukur-led PDP executive that if Baraje, Jaja and Oyinlola were not stopped, INEC may recognize them as national officers of the PDP.

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