Appellate court affirms Sheriff-led PDP exco


The Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, has affirmed the Ali Modu Sheriff-led national executive committee as the authentic leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

But the raging leadership tussle rocking the PDP is far from over, as the former Kaduna State governor, Ahmed Makarfi-led faction has vowed to file a suit next week at the Supreme Court to challenge the verdict of the appellate court.

It would be recalled that Sheriff had gone to the appellate court to challenge the decision of Justice Abdullahi Liman of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, which affirmed the decision of the May 21, 2016 national convention of the party that removed him and other members of his executive committee from office.

Delivering the lead judgment yesterday, Justice Bitrus Sanga explained that in determining the case, he had focused on the provision of PDP’s constitution as it concerns the removal of the executive committee of the party at any level during the national convention, based on Article 47, Rule 3, which provides for a vote of confidence to be moved on any member of the executive committee of the party at any level, at any national convention.

Citing the PDP constitution, he said before any member of the executive committee could be removed by the national convention, there ought to have been at least a two-month notice of vote of confidence motion submitted to the party’s secretary at the appropriate level, who shall then circulate it to the relevant chapters, one month before the national convention or congress, as the case may be.

“Considering the way and manner the national executive working committee of the PDP was removed on May 21, 2016 by the party during the national convention, it is clear that the provision of Article 47 (3) of the PDP constitution was not observed, and I so hold,” he said.

Justice Sanga observed that there was no vote of confidence passed on the appellants (Sheriff and others) by the party during the said May 21, last year’s 2016 convention.

In addition, he noted that the two months notice that was supposed to be given to them was not given. In fact, no vote of confidence was ever passed.

According to him, the PDP, by holding the May 21, last year convention in Port Harcourt, acted in contempt of a court order, which had earlier declared that the tenure of Sheriff and 15 national officers would end in August this year.

“Because of the failure of the first respondent (PDP) to obey a legitimate court order and its own constitution, it follows naturally that the actions it took on May 21, 2016 during its alleged national convention, dissolving all its national offices and officers and appointing in their stead, a caretaker committee, is a nullity ab initio, and I so hold,” he said.

The Justice declared that the proceedings and everything done in the purported national convention held on May 21, last year have been set side, especially the reconstitution of the national working committee setting up
the purported caretaker committee, led by Makarfi.

While ordering the parties to maintain the status quo, he went further to set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court delivered on July 4, last year, which recognised Makarfi as the caretaker committee national chairman of the PDP.

Justice A.A.B. Gumel said he fully agreed with the verdict delivered by Justice Sanga.However, Justice Theresa Orji-Abadua delivered a contrary ruling on the matter.

She argued that the decision of the national convention of the PDP, based on the party’s constitution, was supreme. At such, the decision to appoint a national caretaker committee was within the purview of the power of the national convention.

She stressed that while Sheriff, as the acting national chairman, has the power to summon the national executive committee meeting, the power to convene a national convention resides with the national working committee of the party.

Justice Orji-Abadua argued that Sheriff had erroneously arrogated to himself the power to postpone the convention after he realised that he had been disqualified from participating in the electoral process.

According to her, only the national working committee has the power to postpone a convention and not Sheriff, who, after screening, curiously absented himself from the convention.

She explained that the national convention has power to remove and replace any officer of the party and faulted Sheriff’s appeal on the basis that it was hinged on the determination of his tenure. She argued that the appropriate thing he ought to have done was to have challenged his removal from office by the convention.

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Ali Modu Sheriff
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