The drama continued as Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday, July 28, 2016, recognised Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, by nullifying the national convention held on May 21, 2016, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
It was during that convention that Sen. Ahmed Makarfi emerged as the Chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, while the National Working Committee of the party led by former governor of Borno State Governor Ali Modu Sheriff was dissolved.
The ruling has brought more confusion to the already crisis riddled camp of the PDP as Ahmed Makarfi faction insist on going along with the plannedAugust 17, 2016 convention in Rivers State.
He said, “What Justice Okon Abang did today is to sit on an appeal over the court of competent and coordinate jurisdiction and that’s what makes his interlocutory order very strange. The judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt was very clear that the National Caretaker Committee was duly constituted and recognized; and in line with that, the scheduled National Convention for August 17, 2016 still holds.”
The latest crisis started when Mr. Sheriff obtained an order from Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Lagos division of the Federal High Court on May 12 and 20, 2016, preventing elections of new party leaders at the May 21 convention.
However, Mr. Makarfi was appointed to lead a caretaker committee at the convention, while Sherif was sacked. Sherif insisted he was the legitimate leader, while Mr. Makarfi claimed to be in charge.
A July 4 judgment of Justice Mohammed Liman of the Port Harcourt division of the Federal High Court affirmed Sen. Ahmed Makarfi as the rightful leader.
With the August convention planned by Makarf faction approved by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Sheriff approached the Federal High Court Abuja to apply for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the convention.
It was reported that the embattled former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, Wale Oladapo, Dennis Alonge-Niyi, Alhaji Bashir Maidugu, Hanatu Ulam, Lawa Dutsima Anchi and Okey Nnadozie were with Sherif in this move.
Justice Abang in his ruling said: “It is my humble view that having regard to the orders of the Lagos division of this court on May 12 and 20, 2016, the PDP had no lawful authority to hold the convention it purportedly convened on May 21st 2016 at Port Harcourt, that led to the emergence of the Caretaker Committee of the party.
“The convention that led to the emergence of the Makarfi-ied Caretaker Committee was illegally convened, having regard to the subsisting orders of the Lagos division of this court.
“PDP could not have pretended that the orders do not exist. Except the orders of the Lagos division are set aside by an appellate court, PDP could not have legally held the convention that led to the emergence of the Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee.”
The court claimed the PortHarcourt division of this court cannot over rule a judgement given by another court of the same Jurisdiction.
“The convention was unlawfully held and the caretaker committee was unlawfully and illegally appointed and could not lawfully take decisions of behalf of the PDP on account of the subsisting orders of the Lagos division of the court dated 12th and 20th May 2016.
“If the Makarfi-led caretaker committee, as apostle of impunity, missed their way to the PortHarcourt division of this court, the court could not have ordinarily assumed jurisdiction on the suit, because the Port Harcourt division cannot sit on appeal over the decision of the Lagos division of this court.
“Therefore, this court is not bound by the decision of the Port Harcourt division of this court dated the 4th day of July 2016 whether or not it is a final decision because its foundation is weak. In fact, it has no foundation. It is as if that judgment has not been delivered.”
The court also set aside the Ferdinand Orbi (SAN) who was representing the Makarfi led PDP, claiming he has no right to represent the party.
“All actions taken by the Caretaker Committee of the PDP, pursuant to the judgment of the Port Harcourt division of this court, including the letter appointing Ferdinand Orbi (SAN) as counsel to PDP in this matter, is hereby set aside and accordingly declared a nullity on account of the subsisting orders of the Lagos division of this court.
“Unless the orders of the Lagos division of this court are set aside, the caretaker committee of the PDP acts in vain in the affairs of the PDP,” the judge said.
Meanwhile, Olisa Metuh has exonerated himself from the controversies.
A statement by his Special Assistant, Richard Ihediwa, read in part: “Chief Metuh wishes to inform the public that he is not part of the suit seeking to stop the convention and he never instructed anyone to file any such suit on his behalf.”
- Olalekan Olonilua for encomium.ng