Aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, aspirants for Rivers House of Assembly, and their supporters, on Wednesday in Abuja blocked the entrance of the party’s national headquarters and barred party officials and staff from their offices.
The aspirants protested against the non-issuance of clearance certificates by the party to them for the November 29 state House of Assembly primary.
The aspirants and their supporters had as early as 6.30 a.m., blocked the Secretariat’s entrance, carrying different placards and chanting songs.
They also carried a coffin with the poster of one of the frontline governorship aspirants of the state.
Party officials and members of staff were barred from gaining access into their offices.
Amadi Uzoma, one of the aspirants who spoke with NAN, said the protesters were at the headquarters to meet members of the National Working Committee of the party, to inform them of their plight.
According to him, the aspirants have made concerted effort in the past to meet the PDP leadership on the issue but to no avail.
He said according to the party`s constitution, after 24 hours of screening, copies of all qualified aspirants and those disqualified would be made public.
“If you did not go through the primaries, there should be a room for you to go for appeal, and non-actually came in place,” he said.
Mr. Uzoma, who is contesting the Omuma constituency, said that about 80 percent of the aspirants for the Rivers House of Assembly primaries, were disenfranchised.
He said their names were not in the list of aspirants released by the party’s leadership to participate in the primary.
Mr. Uzoma also alleged that only members of the Grassroots Democratic Initiative (GDI), owned by one of the Rivers governorship aspirants, was cleared by the PDP leadership to contest the primary.
Efforts made by NAN to get a reaction from the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Olisa Metuh, to the development, however, proved abortive.
Police, however, later dispersed the protesters by using the tear gas.
The Police Public Relations Officer, FCT, Peter Okechukwu, told newsmen that “we have been pleading with them to disperse and go home but all the plea fell on a deaf ear.
“We don’t have any other option; the law has empowered us that once the constitutional right is breached, we have to do what is lawful and that is what we did”.
He said that the protesters were free to return if they would be peaceful in their protest.
“This is FCT and we can guarantee them reasonable time so long as it does not affect the rights of other people but once it goes beyond that, it becomes unlawful and unacceptable.
“What we did is normal; we did not use any violent means to disperse them. We contacted party officials and enough time had already been given; this is nobody’s home.
“The protest is no longer acceptable because it has stayed longer than necessary,” he said.