- Says May 21 National Convention was valid
A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt yesterday affirmed that the May 21, 2016, National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was duly constituted, and declared the dissolution of the National Working Committee, NWC, and the National Executive Committee, NEC, by that convention valid.
In his judgment on the suit filed by the PDP against Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and others, Justice Abdullahi Liman ruled that the appointment of the Caretaker Committee of the PDP to oversee its affairs was legal and in line with the provisions of the PDP constitution.
Justice Liman said that “Article 31 (1) of the PDP constitution” vested the powers to convene a national convention on the National Executive Committee of the party.
The court held that pursuant to the constitution of the party, the former acting national chairman had no powers to unilaterally postpone the properly constituted national convention on a day all delegates had converged on Port Harcourt, the host city.
He described the action of Senator Modu Sheriff as most unconscionable, pointing out that the former acting national chairman participated in all the processes leading to the national convention, only to make a u-turn at the final minute after he was screened and disqualified.
The court ruled that after Sheriff was disqualified following his screening, the only option that was left to him was to have gone to the venue of the national convention to seek the opinion of delegates whether they were prepared to go on with the convention or not.
According to Justice Liman, Senator Sheriff’s absence from the convention was not visible from the process as his powers were not usurped.
The court declared that under Article 35 (b) of the PDP constitution, in the absence of the chairman, the deputy chairman was empowered to preside over the national convention.
It therefore ruled that the May 21, 2016, PDP National Convention was properly constituted and the decisions taken at the convention valid.
The Federal High Court further ruled that in line with Article 33 (2) of the PDP constitution, the national convention of the party is supreme and could exercise the powers to dissolve the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee of the party.
On the issue of abuse of court process claimed by Senator Sheriff, the court held that the plaintiffs in the case were not the same in the cases mentioned by the defendants, noting that the plaintiff’s suit only centred on the national convention.
The court noted that five days to the national convention Sheriff had through his counsel dissociated himself from one of the suits they filed via proxies.
Justice Liman emphasised that there was no suit challenging the conduct of the national convention in Port Harcourt and that no injunction sought to stop the convention.
Addressing journalists after the judgement, counsel to the PDP, Dejo Lamikanra (SAN) said that the judgement settled all the contending issues concerning the PDP.
He said with the judgement, the decision of the national convention to appoint a caretaker committee stands and that Senator Sheriff was duly sacked.
In his remarks, secretary of the caretaker committee, Senator Ben Obi declared that the caretaker committee would now settle down to carry out the responsibility bestowed on it by the national convention.
Counsel to Senator Sheriff, Mr John Martins Abu commended the court for its judgement.
PDP receives High Court judgement with mixed reactions
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, national caretaker committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi has, however, expressed mixed reaction to the judgement of the Federal High Court over the leadership tussle in the party.
Reacting to the judgement, Senator Makarfi said though he was happy about the judgement, he was still saddened by the crisis that had bedevilled the party.
His words: “I’m 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.”
The PDP leader again called on the former chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, to accept the olive branch and embrace peace in the interest of the party.
“I’m still calling on Sen. 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,” he concluded.