•Court reinstates Sheriff •Makarfi group kicks
From Godwin Tsa and Taiwo Amodu, Abuja
The protracted leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) festered yesterday as a Federal High court sitting in Abuja again affirmed Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the authentic National chairman party.
Justice Okon Abang nullified the appointment of Ahmed Makarfi as caretaker committee chairman.
Despite the pronouncement the caretaker committee under the leadership of Senator Ahmed Makarfi has said it would go ahead to conduct the national convention fixed for next month.
Reacting to the judgment in a statement, spokesperson of the Makarfi committee, Dayo Adeyeye described as objectionable, questionable and very strange the interlocutory order granted the dissolved national working committee, led by Sheriff.
“We have just received information that Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja has granted an order of interlocutory Injunction stopping our scheduled National Convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, but we want to state that the judgment of the 4th of July, 2016 supersedes any Ex-Parte Order or interlocutory injunctions. So, our National Convention will hold as scheduled in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
“Let Nigerians recall the two former Judgments before the Port Harcourt Judgment, declared that Senator Sheriff is not qualified to be a National Chairman given that the PDP Constitution 2014 which he claimed brought him to power is not in existence and therefore, null and void.
“The PDP wants Nigerians to know that Justice Okon Abang is deliberately engaging in acts of derailing the country’s democracy given the fact that his court is not an Appeal Court that can set aside any judgment.
Adeyeye said the Makarfi faction would apply for stay of execution and appeal the ruling.
“Finally, the Party calls on all its members and teaming supporters nationwide to remain calm and law abiding and be rest assured that the PDP National Convention will hold as scheduled and all preparation towards the August 17, 2016 National Convention remains the same.”
In the case filled by Sheriff, Justice Abang held that the purported convention of the party held in port-Harcourt on May 20, 2016, was conducted in violation of the two court orders of the Lagos Division of the Federal High court which barred the PDP, INEC from holding the said convention.
The court further restrained the Makarfi-led Caretaker committee from exercising any authority or taking any decision on behalf of the party being an illegal body.
Justice Abang who ruled on the crisis between two senior advocate of Nigeria Mr. Olagoke Fakunle and Ferdinand Obi over legal representation for the PDP in the legal suit, said that Makarfi faction which appointed Obi has no legal authority to do so.
He held that the letter by the Makarfi-led Committee appointing Obi as counsel for PDP was illegal, unlawful and was accordingly set aside by the court on the ground that Makarfi has no legal justification to appoint a lawyer for PDP or take any decisiin carry out any act on behalf of the party.
Justice Abang upheld the appointment of Fakunle, having been appointed to represent PDP by the Ali Modu sheriff-led committee.
The judge took a swipe at the Makarfi-led group for missing their way to Port Harcourt to obtain a judgement form a division of a Federal High Court which is a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction to that of Lagos.
Justice Abang said the judgement of the Port Harcourt division which recognised the Makarfi-led caretaker committee is unlawful,illegal and has no foundation in law to stand.
He held that until the orders made by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court which restrained PDP from holding convention at the time it did was set aside, anything done it contravention of the two subsisting orders are unlawful, illegal and should not be recognised.
“If Makarfi-led caretaker committee as an apostle of impunity kiss their way to Port Harcourt to get judgement, that judgement cannot stand.
“The Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High court cannot make an order to neutralise the effectiveness and potency of orders of Lagos Division of the Federal High court.
“As at the time the Makarfi-led committed found their way to the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High court, the orders of the Lagos division of the court was still subsisting.
“The Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High court therefore has no business to have dabbled into the issues of PDP leadership in the light of the subsisting orders issued in Lagos by a court of competent jurisdiction.
“Only again, let me make it clear that the Supreme court has made it clear in a situation like this, something cannot be built on nothing and in the instance case, I have no liver to depart from the Supreme Court decision.
“Though I have powers to nullify the division of the port Harcourt that recognised Makarfi leadership, I will not do so because there is no application to that effect before me. I will, however, allow the Court of Appeal to do justice to that.
The judge further admonished politicians not to cause disaffection along judges of the Federal High court and if they do so, we have the power to call them to order.
“The culture of impunity must stop in this country. We have come of age and we should do things in line with the law.
“In the final analysis, Justice Abang held that Ali Modu Sheriff remains the authentic national chairman of the PDP and has the authority to act and take decision on behalf of the party.
Justice Abang also said any decision outside the Sheriff-led committee is illegal, unlawful and is not binding the party.
Meanwhile, the court has adjourned till August 15, to rule on applications seeking to stop the National Convention of the Party scheduled for August 17 in Port Harcourt as well as the one by other Executives of the Markafi-led Committee seeking to join in the matter.