Security forces, led by the Police, were seen yesterday morning guarding the erstwhile PDP Secretariat in Cross River State at 42 Murtala Mohamed Highway, as some men began the painting and cresting of the building with APC colours, logo and flags.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in its reaction yesterday said the party “vehemently protests this primitive invasion of the PDP secretariat by the APC on the instructions of Governor Ben Ayade.”
The party added: “This invasion amounts to criminal trespass, malicious damage to property, and constitutes conduct likely to lead to a breach of the public peace. We are surprised that it is Governor Ayade, who has the constitutional responsibility, as Chief Security Officer of the state, for maintaining law and order that is promoting this type of dubious and vicious conduct.”
A statement signed by Mr. Effiok Cobham, the Chairman, PDP Caretaker Committee in Cross River State and made available to our correspondence also said “PDP has a subsisting tenancy over the property. We have the tenancy agreements and receipts evidencing payment of the rent for the current tenure in respect of the property. The lessor of the property has clarified that the tenancy of the PDP in respect of 42A Murtala Mohamed Highway is still subsisting. Protesting the primitive action of the APC, the Lessor lamented: “I understand that the property is right now being painted with APC colours and I am calling to say that I have no agreement whatsoever with APC. I hereby state that PDP’S tenancy is still subsisting and they remain my legal and recognised tenant.”
This face-off is even as local government council chairmen, a National Assembly member and many political appointees in government have begun registration as APC members in Cross River State.
For example, one of the two members of the National Assembly that have decided to follow Ayade, Hon. Mike Etaba, representing Obubra/Etung Federal Constituency, spoke after his registration as an APC member in his local ward.
He said, “I am an Ayade foot soldier for all seasons and I will continue to stand with Governor Ben Ayade beyond 2023.
We must continue to play politics with ethics, devoid of violence. The decision by Governor Ben Ayade to affiliate with the centre is a smart choice and we will continue to follow who ‘know road’ for the generality of all Cross Riverians.”
On the issue of the new secretariat for the APC, the local government council chairman of Calabar Municipality, Elder Effefiong Nta Eke, noted that the state governor, who was the leader of the PDP, decided to defect to the ruling APC for the benefit of the state.
“So, the scenario you are seeing here is that the leader has moved to a new party; so every component, including the secretariat of the former, must follow the leader to the new.”
Asked if the decision to use the former PDP secretariat for the APC will not breed conflict or violent reactions, he said no. According to him, it was the governor that was paying the rent and when it expired some time ago, those who claim to be founding members of PDP did not contribute a dime until Ayade came and renewed the rent.
Ayade, he said, is not taking anything belonging to anybody. He is taking what belongs to him. He paid the rent, so the rent follows him to the APC.”
The police, in a statement signed by DSP Irene Ugbo, the Police Public Relations Officer, Cross River State Police Command, for the Commissioner of Police, warned against any attempt to disrupt the renovation “work going on at a building on No: 142 (a) along the Murtala Mohammed Highway Calabar.