Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Court to Sheriff: You’ve ceased to be PDP chair

Court to Sheriff: Time for PDP to resolve its crisis, But, Sheriff has vowed to stay. According to him

A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, has told Senator Ali Modu Sheriff that he is not the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and should stop parading himself as such. But, Sheriff has vowed to stay. According to him, he will appeal the judgement.

Justice Abdullahi Liman, who delivered judgement in a suit brought before the court by the PDP yesterday, noted that the decisions reached by the party’s leadership at the national convention remained valid. He said that there was no illegality during the May 21 National Convention of the PDP in Port Harcourt that sacked Sheriff as the acting chairman of the party, and brought in the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee. Liman noted that the appointment of a caretaker committee of the PDP followed the party’s constitution of the party, adding that Article 31 (1) of the PDP constitution gives the party’s national executive committee the powers to convene a national convention.

According to the judge, Sheriff, who is the first defendant in the matter, was part of the process leading to the National Convention in Port Harcourt, and as such his absence at the main event cannot lead to the convention’s nullification.

He pointed out that despite the absence of Sheriff, the then PDP deputy national chairman, Uche Secondus, was at the convention and participated fully in the absence of Sheriff. Justice Liman also pointed out that there was no suit that challenged the conduct of the convention, just as he said that neither was there an injunction to stop the convention. The judge held: “The national chairman cannot postpone it (convention). The principle and spirit of democracy, even in a party, vigorously abhors autocracy.

“In the absence of the national chairman, the deputy national chairman presided over the convention. The constitution of the party is in support of this. “In view of this, the national convention was well convened and can exercise the authority to elect and remove national officers of the party.

“It is obvious that the dissolution of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Working Committee (NWC) of the party was within the powers of the convention. Nothing in those decisions has violated the norm or law.”

The counsel for the PDP, Mr. Demo Laminakara, said that with the judgement, Sheriff can no longer parade himself as party chairman, because the court has affirmed the party’s decision to appoint a caretaker chairman. Sheriff, however, said he still remained PDP National Chairman despite the ruling of the court.

The former national chairman, at a press conference, said he had asked his lawyers to appeal against the judgement. According to him, both the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt and that of Abuja that affirmed him PDP chairman last week are of coordinate jurisdiction.

“I also want you to know that the court that gave judgement in Abuja High Court last week and Federal High Court in Lagos, and today’s (Monday’s) judgement are all courts of same coordinate jurisdiction. “Therefore, the order we have in Abuja is still subsisting.What it means is that unless the Court of Appeal decides otherwise, I still remain national chairman of PDP. “Any court that is of the same jurisdiction, cannot overrule another court except the Court of Appeal.

“We disagree completely with today’s judgement. We ask our lawyers to immediately file an appeal and also ask the same court to stay execution on the judgement. “There are three other judgements before his own, orders from federal high court of coordinate jurisdiction,” he said. Makarfi, however, said there was no winner or loser in the judgement on the leadership crisis in the party.

“I am indeed happy with the judgement, on the one hand, but also sad that it had to come to this. “For me, there should be no winner or loser on this matter. I’m still calling on Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and his followers to join us so that we accommodate one another and indeed all other groups in a just, fair and equitable manner with a view to moving the party forward,” Makarfi added.