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By Nnenna Ibeh

Three months after the Nigeria police banned ‘political, socio-cultural, or religious gatherings’ within and around all Nigerian airports, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, violated the directive, while the police looked away.

The ruling party flouted the directive on February 1 when hundreds of its members gathered to welcome its new National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, on his first official return to Bauchi State after he emerged the party’s chairman.

Mr. Mu’azu, a two-term governor of Bauchi, was appointed PDP chairman on January 20.

The airport carnival

When the party chairman decided to visit his state, he was accompanied by another PDP leader and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed. Mr. Mohammed, a former senator, is a governorship aspirant in Bauchi.

The leader of the delegation that received the two PDP heavyweights at the Bauchi Airport was Governor Isa Yuguda, also a member of the PDP.

It was a carnival-like atmosphere at the airport as Mr. Yuguda, different dance troops, mascots, praise singers and people dressed in colourful uniforms – “aso-ebi” – could barely wait for the plane to land. There was also a massive banner bearing the pictures of President Goodluck Jonathan and Messrs Mu’azu and Yuguda. The airport was beautifully decorated with fabrics made in PDP colours (red, white and green).

Mr. Yuguda, leading hundreds of people who waved their party flags and posters of the politicians, danced towards the plane as Mr. Mu’azu joyfully strolled down the airplane waving both hands to the party faithfuls.

As shown on national TV networks, and in an exclusive video sourced by PREMIUM TIMES, the crowd surrounded the plane as they welcomed their illustrious son, who had just emerged the leader of Nigeria’s ruling party; a party that describes itself as Africa’s largest.

Mr. Mu’azu and his entourage left the airport and went to the palace of the Emir of Bauchi, Rilwanu Adamu, to seek blessings for what he expected to be a result-oriented reign as PDP chairman.

“Without the blessings of the royal father, I may not make much impact. I need your prayers and blessings to succeed in this very tasking national assignment. Bauchi is my home, and you are our farther, as such, I am in dire need of your support to succeed,” Mr. Mu’azu said.

Mr. Yuguda, who accompanied the PDP chairman to the Emir’s palace, pledged his support to the latter saying Mr. Mu’azu’s success is the success of Bauchi State and the entire North-East zone.

A Bauchi-based journalist, who accompanied Mr. Yuguda’s convoy to receive the guests at the airport, narrated the events to PREMIUM TIMES.

“We left for the airport at 11.30 a.m in the convoy of the governor, Isa Yuguda. When we got to there, the place was actually jam-packed. There were lots of dancers and praise singers, praising all (the politicians). The security there was also tight; a lot of police officers. Many youths were also there, dancing with posters of politicians that they think want to contest for governorship, like Abdul Ningi, the FCT minister, posters of Jonathan, Isa Yuguda and Mu’azu.” The journalist sought anonymity for fear of being victimized by his employers.

The Police directive

On November 6, 2013, the Nigeria Police announced the ban of all political, socio-cultural, or religious gatherings within and around the premises of all Nigerian airports.

In a statement, the spokesperson of the Nigeria Police, Frank Mba, said the ban was part of efforts towards averting any security breach and the need to protect critical infrastructure, travelers, aircrew, airport staff and personnel at the nation’s local and international airports.

“As part of deliberate efforts towards averting any security breach and the need to protect critical infrastructures, travelers, aircrew, airport staff and personnel at the nation’s local and international airports, the Nigeria Police High Command has placed a total ban on political, socio-cultural or religious gatherings within and around airport premises, including tarmacs, lounges and other sensitive security points,” Mr. Mba announced.

Mr. Mba said the decision was taken by a strategic security meeting at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, on November 5, 2013. The police also vowed that legal actions would be taken against anyone who failed to comply with the directive.

The decision by the police to ban receptions and carnivals fell on the same day security personnel at the Port Harcourt International Airport clashed with supporters of Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi.

There was confusion when security personnel barred the governor’s supporters, who besieged the airport to welcome the leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC. The APC delegation had come to invite Mr. Amaechi to join the opposition party.

Mr. Amaechi has since joined the APC and is the party’s leader in Rivers.

See no evil, hear no evil

After failing to sanction the PDP for violating its directive, the Nigerian police lied to this newspaper that the Bauchi event did not happen.

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr. Mba over the matter, the police spokesperson said he was not aware of it and asked for time to enable him make enquiries.
He later told PREMIUM TIMES that the Bauchi Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Ladan, said no celebration was held at the airport.

“I just spoke with the Commissioner of Police in charge of Bauchi. The information at my disposal is that the reception that took place at the airport was within the bounds of the law,” Mr. Mba said. “What simply happened at the airport was that the governor and other politicians just came and received him and they joined the vehicle and drove off.”

The police spokesperson said he was told by the Bauchi police that no dancing and drumming took place at the airport, and that the ceremony was held at the Government House in Bauchi where Mr. Mu’azu was treated to a state reception.
This video sourced by PREMIUM TIMES has since exposed the police’s claim to be false.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

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