By Peterson Ibi/Benin
The crisis rocking the Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seems to worsen by the day, as the state chairman of the party, Dr Tony Aziegbemi was allegedly compelled to step aside by the state working committee of the party.
It was gathered that the committee took the decision at a meeting held on Tuesday, attended by 12 members.
His deputy, Harrison Omagbon, was directed to step in in acting capacity, while the allegation leveled against him would be investigated and resolved.
The state working committee was also alleged to have set up a three-man committee, made up of the state auditor, woman leader and one other exco member, to investigate all the allegations leveled against the Aziegbemi.
The development is creating a serious disquiet among the party officials, as no official confirmation is forthcoming.
But, a source who was in the know of the meeting, but did not want to be named, listed the sin of the embattled chairman to include allegedly raising a false alarm to the national secretariat of the party, on harmonisation of the state exco and other sundry issues.
“Actually, there was a state working committee meeting today, 12 of the exco [members] were present, and that was where they asked him to step aside.
“They then set up a three-man committee, comprising the state auditor, the woman leader and one other person.
“Now, these are the allegations against him: that he raised false alarm on the issue of harmonisation. That he was the one who suggested to the Governor [Obaseki] when they were talking about harmonization, that some local government exco be dissolved and either they conduct a fresh congress or put up a caretaker committee.
“That was when some people said no, and that if they are to dissolve exco, it should be from ward to state.
“When he knew that the thing will affect him, he then used the exco to write to the national,” the source disclosed.
Aziegnemi was also accused of collecting money, to the tune of $120,000 and another N7 million from Governor Obaseki, which he did not declared to members of the state working committee members.
“When the Governor was coming to the party, the governor said he gave him $120,000 which he did not declare to the state working committee. More so, he was reported to have collected N7 million from the Governor, which he did not declare to anybody as well.
These grave allegations could however not be varified independently from both parties, if the embattled chairman actually collected money from Governor Obaseki or not.
The party in a statement Wednesday morning by its publicity secretary, Chris Nehikhare, said the decision to suspend the embattled chairman was taken at the meeting of the state working committee, by two-third of the members.
Aziegbemi was accused of gross misconduct, brewing unnecessary tension and causing disunity among its members.
“At a State Working Committee meeting that held at the state party secretariat on Tuesday, 1 June 2021, two thirds majority of members resolved in a motion that the state chairman Dr Tony Aziegbemi should step aside and therefore suspended from his position and Hon. Harrison Omagbon, the State Deputy Chairman, will act in his place until the determination of the allegations levied against him.
“An Investigative Committee is hereby set up, headed by the State Legal Adviser, Arthur Esene, and is mandated to report back to the Working Committee within one week.
“Other members of the Committee are Mrs. Linsdale Tes Sorae (State Woman Leader) and Dr. Wilson Imongan (State Auditor).
Amongst the allegations, Dr. Tony Aziegbemi was accused of gross misconduct by brewing unnecessary tension and disunity among party members in the state in a manner akin to bringing the party into disrepute,” he said.
The party noted that, as hard as the decision is, it is designed to bring sanity back to the party.
“It would be like ignoring the elephant in the room if we ignore this macabre dance as Edo people have watched in utter amazement and disappointment how Dr Tony Aziegbemi has been roped and entangled by his actions and unfortunately too, his inactions in the management of the affairs of the party.
“We are a very disciplined party and pride ourselves as organised and focused on service delivery to our teeming supporters and of course Edo people,” Nehikhare added.
The party urged its members and supporters to remain calm as it embarks on the self-cleansing exercise.