WITH barely four days to the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), more pressure is coming on the party to disqualify Alhaji Bamanga Tukur,
one of the leading candidates for the office of the national chairman, on the grounds that he is not a qualified member of the party.
Tens of aggrieved party members stormed the national secretariat of the party in Abuja, on Tuesday, brandishing banners of various inscriptions, calling for the disqualification of the former Gongola State governor for allegedly not satisfying the requirements to return to the party having been expelled in 2001.
A group, which referred to itself as PDP Stakeholders Forum, organised the protest after its leader, Ikenga Ugochinyere, had earlier addressed a press conference where he advanced reasons why Alhaji Tukur must be stopped from contesting the chairmanship election.
Having already written a petition to President Goodluck Jonathan, the National Executive Committee (NEC), the National Working Committee (NWC) and the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party with positive response, the group has now gone to court to seek declaratory, restraining and injunctive reliefs aimed at nullifying the candidature of Alhaji Tukur.
Ugochinyere recalled that the PDP NEC had expelled Alhaji Tukur on May 31, 2001 along with four other prominent members of the party, noting that since then, Alhaji Tukur had neither re-applied to become a member, nor satisfied the laid down procedures for re-admitting returning members.
“Since Bamanga Tukur lost his membership as a result of the expulsion, for him to be a party member whenever he intends to rejoin, he has to undergo the process to secure membership re-admittance. The official expulsion of Bamanga Tukur in 2001 by the PDP NEC has not been rescinded by the party in accordance with article 10 (b) iii of the PDP constitution and hence Bamanga is not a valid member,” the stakeholders argued.
It also spoke about Tukur’s old age which, it noted, could be an impediment to the smooth conduct of his responsibility as the national chairman of the ruling party if elected.
Meanwhile, ahead of the national convention of the PDP slated for Saturday, the presidency has debunked the speculation that President Goodluck Jonathan has anointed candidates among the aspirants for the various offices.
Though speculations had heightened that Alhaji Tukur enjoys the blessings of the president, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Alhaji Ali Gulak, disclosed that the president had not given any aspirant any preference.
He maintained that no contestant had received special treatment from Jonathan and described him as “a man who abides by the rule of law.”
Alhaji Gulak insisted that as far as the president was concerned, all the contestants remained members of his family.
Alhaji Gulak, however, described as mere political statement, the allegation that Tukur was expelled from the party.
Meanwhile, Ugochinyere has dragged Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
before a Federal High Court, praying it to stop the nomination of Tukur as the consensus chairmanship candidate of the party in the convention slated for Saturday.
The plaintiff, who filed the application on Tuesday, also joined Tukur as a defendant in the suit.
Police take over Eagle Square
Ahead of the national convention of the PDP slated for Abuja, the police high command, on Tuesday, deployed anti-riot policemen and their counterparts from the anti-terrorist squad to the Eagle Square, Abuja, venue of the convention.
This is coming just as the party would today inaugurate its 69-member national convention committee headed by a former Foreign Affairs minister, Chief Ojo Madueke, by 4.00 p.m.
Nigerian Tribune learnt that the police authorities resolved to deploy their personnel to the venue early, because of the current security challenges in the country, mostly from the dreaded Islamic sect, the Boko Haram.
According to a senior police officer who spoke with the Nigerian Tribune in confidence, intelligence reports had revealed that the dreaded group might launched an attack on Abuja on or before the convention day, in order to create panic and distrupt it.
“We are not taking chances. We have to plan ahead, that is why we have to deploy our personnel to the venue early. In the next 24 hours, you will see more actions in terms of security arrangements in the entire city and the satellite towns, because of the large number of people that will be coming to the convention,” the source said.
He also said by Friday, all roads leading to the Eagle Square would be shut down to human and traffic movements, ahead of the convention, as part of arrangements to secure the arena and its environs.
It was gatgered that because of the sensitivity of the convention, the acting Inspector General of Police, M. D. Abubakar, would be in chage of operations, while additional personnel would be drawn from the neighbouring states.