Factions battle for control of PDP secretariat
• Makarfi accuses police of bias, insists Sheriff can’t occupy office
• ‘Caretaker committee leader breached pact on crisis’
The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took a turn for the worse yesterday as the two factions battled for the control of the organisation’s national secretariat in Abuja.
The Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee told the Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction that just won the suit over the leadership of the party, to wait for a Supreme Court’s judgment before occupying Wadata Plaza, the national secretariat of the party.
As the PDP remains torn apart by an internal crisis, the party cannot offer a vibrant opposition to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and provide alternative ideas for good governance.
The Makarfi-led caretaker committee accused the police of bias in handling issues in the party in favour of Sheriff. Addressing newsmen yesterday, the spokesman of the caretaker committee, Dayo Adeyeye, said: “We wish to remind the public that the recent Court of Appeal judgment was based on the appeal filed by Sheriff and Co. against the judgment of Justice Muhammed Liman of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt that upheld the legality and constitutionality of the May 21st 2016 national convention that took place in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and the decisions arising therefrom.
“Because Sheriff claimed that he had appealed against that judgment, the law enforcement agencies denied the national caretaker committee and the employees access into the national secretariat. Now that the party led by the national caretaker committee has filed an appeal against the recent judgment, the status quo ante remains until the determination of the appeal to the Supreme Court.
“We are calling on the police and the general public and lovers of peace and democracy to ask Sheriff and Co. to respect the ongoing litigation processes. The police should ensure that Sheriff and Co. do not occupy the national secretariat in order to avoid a breakdown of law and order. We have noticed that the police have taken sides in this matter perhaps because of directives from the All Progressives Congress (APC), but a stitch in time saves nine.”
Also yesterday, anti-Sheriff PDP youths stormed the party national secretariat, urging the newly reinstated national chairman to vacate it. But a former aide of President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak, who belonged to the Sheriff’s faction accused the Makarfi’s faction of blackmailing the Supreme Court ahead of its judgement.
Addressing newsmen on behalf of the Sheriff’s faction yesterday, Gulak explained that Makarfi’s accusation that Sheriff ambition is to become the presidential candidate of PDP in 2019 stood the truth on its head.
He said there was an agreement by both parties not to go to Supreme Court after the appeal. “The former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, with the consent of both factions closed the secretariat of PDP and both sides agreed because of the conflicting court judgments, in order to avert a breakdown of law and order.
“Both parties agreed that in order to pursue a genuine reconciliation, nobody should pursue the case again in Supreme Court. Because even if you get court victory you still need the people, so that we can have a convention where national officers will be elected.”
Gulak claimed that following the Appeal Court judgment, all the actions taken by the Makarfi-led caretaker committee “are illegal and cannot stand,” adding that “Sheriff is still the chairman. He will lead NWC to hold unity convention. This party is bigger than everybody.”
In the Delta State chapter of the party, there is the fear over an alleged plan to flush out “disloyal members.” Sherriff had, shortly after his Appeal Court’s victory in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, reportedly warned members of the Makarfi-led faction to join hands with him or be shown the way out of the party.
This, sources said, informed the emergency meeting of the party members across the 25 local government areas at the weekend in Asaba where a decision to stand by Makarfi was taken, among others.
It was learnt that Sheriff had allegedly directed the South South Vice Chairman of his faction, Dr. Cairo Ojuogbuo, to fish out Makarfi supporters in Delta State who were not ready to work with him.
This was said to have ignited anger among the members who, at a closed-door meeting with former governor, Chief James Ibori in Asaba on Friday night, decided to stand by Makarfi.
But in a swift reaction, Ojuogbuo said that since the Sheriff’s faction was affirmed by the Appeal Court to be authentic, members of the Makarfi group had no option than to collapse their structure into the Sheriff’s group.