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G7 PDP Governors’ Jet Grounded In Abuja

Nigerian aviation authorities in Abuja today briefly grounded a private jet that was supposed to ferry some governors and politicians belonging to the break-away faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to Lagos en route Abeokuta. SaharaReporters learnt that the members of the new PDP were about to fly to Lagos on their way to a meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
A spokesman for the new PDP told SaharaReporters that the temporary grounding of the jet was “part of the Jonathan administration’s desperate war against us.” He added, “We will not be deterred in our struggle to enthrone true democracy within the PDP.”
The source added that this was not the first time the Ministry of Aviation was being used to ground a jet used by opposition figures within the party, citing the withdrawal of the flying privileges of a jet owned by Rivers State government.
When SaharaReporters made inquiries about the reasons for today’s brief grounding, two Nigerian aviation officials gave conflicting responses. The Aviation Ministry’s General Manager, Yakubu Datti, told SaharaReporters over the phone that the ministry was not involved at all in any delay of the flight. He claimed that the problem arose purely from a disagreement between the jet owners and the politicians, insisting that the issue had nothing to do with the aviation authorities.
However, Joe Obi, the spokesperson for embattled Aviation Minister Stella Oduah, offered a different account in an email to SaharaReporters. His email stated that the jet was briefly stopped from taking off in order to ascertain the pilot’s flight plans and to make other routine checks in accordance with aviation practices all over the world. He emphasized that the plane had since been cleared to fly.
Today’s brief grounding came on the heels of yesterday’s disruption of a meeting of the new PDP by a police team led by a plain-clothed Divisional Police Officer in charge of the Asokoro police station. The DPO laid siege on the Kano State Government Lodge in Abuja, the venue of the meeting by five governors who have rejected the PDP faction led by Bamanga Tukur. When the five governors and other participants at the meeting resisted the order to shut down their meeting, the DPO called for police back-up. However, a source at the meeting told SaharaReporters that they tricked the police into believing the meeting had just started when in fact it was ending.
SaharaReporters learnt that the Lagos-bound dissident governors were visiting Mr. Obasanjo to confer with him on a number of political issues. Former President Obasanjo has been estranged from President Goodluck Jonathan, and is believed to be advocating for the election of a president from the northern section of Nigeria in the 2015 presidential election.
by SaharaReporters, New York

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