The crisis rocking the Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, took a new dimension on Tuesday following the suspension of the state chairman of the party, Dr Tony Aziegbemi, over alleged misconduct and fraud.
Aziegbemi was suspended by 12 members of the state working committee during a meeting, while the state deputy chairman, Harrison Omagbon, was asked to act as the chairman pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations levelled against the suspended chairman.
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The embattled chairman was accused of collecting $120,000 from Governor Godwin Obaseki without disclosing it to the State Working Committee.
He was also alleged to have collected another N7 million from the Governor which he did not declare to the party.
Aside from the fraud allegation, he was also accused of raising the false alarm on harmonisation through a petition to the national chairman of the party, Uche Secondus.
Meanwhile, the PDP in a statement signed by its publicity secretary, Chris Nehikhare, said Aziegbemi was suspended by a two-third majority of the state working committee.
“Therefore, he is suspended from his position, and Hon. Harrison Omagbon, the State Deputy Chairman, will act in his place until the determination of the allegations against him,”
According to the statement, an investigative committee headed by the state legal adviser, Barr. Arthur Esene, was set up to investigate the allegation and report back to the working committee within one week.
The statement said amongst the allegations, 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.
The party said the decision is designed to bring sanity back to the party, noting that “It would be like ignoring the elephant in the room if we ignore this macabre dance.
“Edo people have watched in utter amazement and disappointment how Aziegbemi has been roped and entangled by his actions and unfortunately too, his inactions in the management of the affairs of the party.”
He urged party members and supporters to remain calm as the party had embarked on a self-cleansing exercise.
Meanwhile, the state PDP financial secretary, Fidelis Ehis Igenebale, said the state working committee didn’t suspend Aziegbemi as reported in the PDP’s statement.
“Apart from the fact that the SWC has no power to suspend or discipline the State Chairman, there were no suspensions whatsoever but more of a heated argument against the Chairman for insisting and appealing that, the letter to the National Chairman should be withdrawn,” he said.
When contacted, the suspended chairman, through a text message, said he would call the correspondent later.
But a source close to him said the allegations were not true and that he (Aziegbemi) would go to Court to clear his name.