By Ummi Ismaeel,
Attempt by the police to stop a meeting by the Niger State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at its secretariat along Eastern by-pass Minna were on Thursday resisted by stakeholders who challenged the authority of the police to interfere in a peaceful party affairs.
The PDP members from all the 25 local government areas of the state had arrived the party secretariat as early as 9.00am only to notice that police were dispatched to the place to stop the meeting.
The stakeholders’ meeting which was at the instance of the state chairman, Alhaji Tanko Beji, our correspondent gathered, was to among others discuss the position of members in Niger State on in-house crisis that has polarized the National Working Committee of the party.
The armed policemen, who came to enforce what they said was an "order from above" had insisted that the meeting should not hold but surprisingly met an already filled hall with party supporters on arrival.
Apparently not knowing what next to do used one of its patrol vehicles with registration number, NPF9993C, to block the main entrance into the state PDP secretariat and this drew the attention of party members who came out enmasse to challenge them.
State PDP Chairman, Tanko Beji, who was immediately informed of the development, later led some officials to the police headquarters where he briefed the commissioner of police, Mu’azu Zubairu, that the meeting was purely a party affair without any plan to cause a breach of the peace as being alleged by his men.
The stakeholders’ meeting, it was gathered, was almost through when another detachment of policemen stormed the secretariat for a second time, asking that the meeting should stop, which led to exchange of words between some youths of the party and the policemen as they tried to force their way into the hall to stop ongoing meeting.
Not done with the mission to frustrate the meeting, a plain clothe policeman accompanied by an armed escort however entered the hall where they met the stakeholders praying for the repose of the late former Governor of Niger State, Engineer Abdulkhadir Abdullahi Kure, and as such could not take any action.
It was however gathered that the security men had initially attempted to arrest the state party chairman, Tanko Beji, but apparently had to shelve the plan because of the likelihood that taking such action could cause a breakdown of law and order.
A deputy commissioner of police whose names could not be ascertained as at the time of filing the report later met with the party chairman in his office, but details were not made public.
The police were to later ask the chairman and other members of the executive in Niger State who were at the meeting to vacate the state PDP secretariat to allow for all the stakeholders who had come from parts of the state to leave the premises.
Addressing newsmen later, the state PDP chairman, Alhaji Tanko Beji, described the police efforts to stop the meeting as "undemocratic and uncalled for".
Beji said, “I don't know when a peaceful political party meeting has become of interest to the police. There is no cause for alarm, there is no problem. They told us that they were informed we wanted to cause mayhem.
“Is there any sign that anybody is trying to cause mayhem or fighting ourselves, no?” Beji rhetorically asked as he denounced allegations of any in-fighting, adding, “We value peace, we cannot cause breakdown of law and order”.