- I remain chairman, Sheriff insists
By Lukman Olabiyi and Taiwo Amodu, Abuja
THE Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has announced intent to run the national secretariat of the party pending resolution of its leadership tussle.
Senator Walid Jubrin and Chief Ojo Madueke, chairman and BoT secretary, respectively, made the declaration yesterday, when they addressed the staff who resumed work after being shut out of the party’s secretariat for nine days by the police.
Regardless, former Borno State governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, whose National Working Committee (NWC) was dissolved penultimate weekend at the party’s national convention held in Port Harcourt , Rivers State insists he remains the national chairman.
The convention created a caretaker committee under the leadership of former Kaduna State governor, Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Ben Obi as chairman and secretary, respectively to run the party’s affairs pending a new exco.
Last Tuesday, a declaratory judgment of Justice Hussein Buba of the federal court in Lagos, however, upheld Sheriff’s NWC as the authentic leadership. That was countered, same day, by a Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt, which restrained Sheriff from parading himself as national chairman.
At Wadata Plaza, Madueke said following conflicting court orders on the leadership crisis, only the BoT, which he noted was not encumbered by any of the court judgment, could assume leadership of the party.
He told newsmen: “You would have realised that, in all the various court orders, no one has challenged the authority of the BoT. The legal and political reality is that following the court orders, which affected the convention, there can be no vacuum and that’s what BoT wants to ensure.’’
Asked what becomes of resolutions of the peace meeting brokered last Thursday by his leadership, which backed the Makarfi team and further resolved that it would accommodate members of PDP Stakeholders Forum, Madueke said there were behind the scene moves to ensure that the agreements reached were not observed in the breach.
On his part, Jubrin said BoT is empowered by the party’s constitution to safeguard assets of the party and was committed to resolving the impasse.
“You are aware that this place was sealed by the police; the reason was to keep the secretariat very safe.
“We, BoT, have been asked, under the constitution of the party, to be in charge of assets and liabilities of PDP generally. It is in that respect that the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, having considered the importance of our constitution, and having considered the importance of the staff of PDP headquarters here, ordered that this place be opened, and, not only be opened, but should be entrusted in the handsof BoT.
“Today, the BoT remains the only legal body now in the whole set up, and that is why we are here to play our role.
Meanwhile, in his response to the verdict of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Sheriff told the court he remains the party’s chairman.
He described the “caretaker committee” headed by Makarfi as a group of “usurpers” and a “contraption” that was set up in defiance of valid court orders.
Sheriff made this averment in a court processes made available to newsmen in Lagos through his lawyer, Ajibola Oluyede,
He is praying the court to hold that only he can preside over a convention or meeting where party leaders could be chosen.
According to Sheriff and Oladipo, the PDP national working committee, which is still under their control, did not instruct anyone to file the action on the party’s behalf.