There was confusion at Wadata House, the National Headquarters of the Peoples Democratic Party on Thursday in Abuja, as angrypolice officers, led by one Sergeant Reuben Onu and a staff of the party, physically assaulted workers of Twinkles World Limited who were protesting against unpaid debts estimated at N360m.
The company handled the contract for the decoration of the PDP presidential campaigns in all states of the federation in the last general elections.
During the protest, the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Tunde Agarawu, and Project Coordinator, Mr. Awonaiya Olayemi, were physically assaulted.
While the managing director was slapped by Onu and an unidentified employee of the PDP, Olayemi was pelted with sands on his head by same officers.
The police team later reinforced, coming with many other police officers to scare away the protesting workers numbering over 30.
But a police officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the MD was assaulted because he did not heed the advice to channel their grievances to Legacy House, the office of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organization.
The firm reiterated its decision to drag President Goodluck Jonathan and the party to court over the unpaid debts.
Already, their lawyer had issued a seven-day ultimatum to PDPPCO to offset the debt or face an action in court.
The protesters carried placards with inscriptions like, “PDPPCO is owing us for the service we provided them”, “Prof. Jerry Gana, pay us our money now!”, “Dr. Ahmadu Alli, DG of PDPPCO, pay our money now”, “Mr. President, Prof. Jerry Gana is yet to pay Twinkle World Limited,” and “Nigerians: PDP is owing Twinkle World.”
Agarawu said since Jonathan lost the presidential election to Muhammadu Buhari, he and the PDP hierarchy had failed to pay most debts incurred for the campaigns.
He alleged that a former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, and other members of the PDPPCO deliberately withheld their money, even though a directive has been given by the immediate-past chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, that the debts should be cleared.
In an interview with journalists at the PDP secretariat, Agarawu said there was no going back in the pursuit of the management to get the money.
He said, “It is a battle of no retreat, no surrender.”
According to him, the complaints have reached President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said the President was shocked that the money has not been paid, despite the overwhelming evidence that it has been released to the PDPPCO.
“President Goodluck Jonathan is not happy. We have been told that the man is embarrassed because he also gave money to the PDPPCO and yet he is hearing these stories about debts running into billions of naira. The President told somebody close to us that he is not owing us because he was just a presidential candidate of the PDP and that if there is anybody owing us, it is the PDPPCO”, Agarawu said.
While several efforts made to get Gana for response were not successful, calls and text messages to his Personal Assistant, Mr. James Agbo, over the same matter were not replied.
The PUNCH recalled that Agarawu said no mobilisation fund was given to them before the commencement of the project, adding that banks and corporate bodies where they sourced loans to execute the project were already demanding for the payment of their funds.
He had said, “We are constrained to make this urgent request to the leadership of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organization and Prof. Jerry Gana with a view to pleading for prompt intervention for the payment of the nationwide venue beautification and publicity with inflatable for the Presidential campaign.
“We have resorted to taking this last step after exhausting every strenuous potential avenue of getting the matter resolved to no avail. At the moment, we believe strongly that only your personal, compassionate, humane, fair and just nature could help save this embarrassing situation that is capable of tarnishing and eroding further the good name and image of all concerned.
“The fact of the case was that on January 7, 2015, Twinkle World Limited was contracted to execute a nationwide presidential campaign venue beautification project in all of the 36 states of the federation. We are also expected to provide the awareness and publicity venue support services throughout the PDP nationwide presidential campaign from January 8 to February 6, 2015.”