FCTA moves against Baraje faction, seals Adamawa governor’s lodge

The FCTA says the use of the building for political meetings violates Abuja’s master plan

Federal authorities sealed the Adamawa state governor’s lodge in Maitama, Abuja, Saturday, complaining that the property was illegally serving a political purpose.

Authorities claim the building is being used as a secretariat by the breakaway Baraje-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The Federal Capital Territory Administration said the repeated use of the building for political meetings was a violation of the city’s master plan, which reserves the Maitama area strictly for residential purposes.

“The Governor’s Lodge as it is today, is being used as a Political Party Office thereby negating the spirit of urban planning and causing nuisance and disturbance on the residents dwelling in that area of the city as well as inflicting undue pressure on the infrastructure and services therein, contrary to the principles of the Abuja Master Plan,” the FCTA said in a statement late Saturday hours after sealing the building.

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The decision to shut the office on Saturday seemed the government’s most brazen clampdown yet on a faction of the ruling party that emerged August, and established a parallel authority within the party, setting off the most serious division the ruling party has ever experienced in its history.

The splinter group is led by Abubakar Baraje, a former acting chairman of the party; and is supported by seven governors opposed to President Goodluck Jonathan’s plan to seek re-election in 2015.

The seven governors also demand the removal of the party’s chairman, Bamanga Tukur.

The crisis has defied a resolution as both sides have refused to budge after meetings between the president and the governors and other party leaders.

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The Baraje group settled for the Adamawa lodge early September after another office that was to serve as its secretariat was closed by armed police who claimed launching the office was against a court order.

The FCT administration said its decision to close the Adamawa lodge was because of its use for political purpose, which it said would over stretch available facilities within the neighbourhood and cause traffic gridlock in the area.

“The administration wishes to assure that all actions by a person or group of persons that inflict pains on the residents whether directly or indirectly would not be condoned as government is meant to serve and protect the rights of all,” the statement signed by Muhammad Sule, the office’s Chief Press Secretary, said.

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But the government’s explanation is certain to be questioned as several governors’ lodges are known for their use by their respective governors as political meeting points, with none ever sanctioned.

The Akwa Ibom state Governor’s Lodge in the Asokoro District of Abuja is currently hosting the secretariat of the PDP Governors’ Forum and meetings of the body holds there regularly.

The PDP itself has an annex of its national secretariat, known as Legacy House, in the Maitama District of Abuja. The FCTA has never raised objection.

Even the presidential villa, a national asset that should be a politically neutral facility, is used every now and then for meetings of the National Caucus and Board of Trustees of the PDP.

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Despite complaints by opposition parties, the PDP has never objected to the use of the villa for partisan meetings.

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