Sheriff kicks as Makarfi’s tenure is extended
• You are acting illegally, court tells factional chair
For hours yesterday, security operatives disrupted the planned national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.As early as 5:00 a.m., hundreds of gun-wielding policemen and officials of the Department of State Security (DSS) had barricaded the two main entrances to the Sharks Stadium, venue of the event, with armoured personnel carriers.
The Rivers State Police Commissioner, Francis Odesanya, said the sealing off of the stadium was in compliance with a court order.When the siege would not end, members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and the Board of Trustees, PDP governors, National Assembly caucus members, 36 states chairmen and national officers of the party resolved, at a closed-door meeting at the Government House, Port Harcourt, to move to the PDP state secretariat along Aba Road.
The meeting at the party’s secretariat was solely to extend the tenure of the Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee.The Deputy Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Leo Ogor, was the first to move a motion for the amendment of the convention agenda and the stepping down of the issue of election. He was seconded by the PDP chairman for Abuja, Yahaya Suleiman.
The next motion was moved by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekeremadu for the extension of the tenure of the Makarfi-led committee by at least one year. The motion was seconded by the former Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Zainab Maina.The Chairman of the convention planning committee and Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, put the question for the extension of the committee’s tenure, which was unanimously approved.
The party leaders extended the life of the caretaker committee by 12 months and approved the recommendation that it should be expanded to at least 13 members.The leaders also resolved that in the event that all the litigations in court are not dispensed with within the next one year, the NEC has the power to extend the tenure of the caretaker committee. All members of the current caretaker committee were barred from seeking elective position wherever the party’s convention is held.
Wike, who insisted that the convention must go on, said no amount of intimidation could prevent the PDP from going ahead with its plan.Makarfi accused the opposition of taking sides in the crisis rocking the PDP. He promised to sustain efforts in rebuilding, reuniting and restoring the lost glory of the PDP.
Former Niger State Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu, moved a motion for the adjournment of the convention sine die after the party had concluded what the convention had set out to do, giving the circumstance. The motion was seconded by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.
While inaugurating the national executive committee of the party at a closed-door meeting at the Government House, Port Harcourt, Makarfi said in the absence of elected national officers, the caretaker committee members would be part of NEC. He declared that the caretaker committee members would cease to be NEC members once national officers are elected.
The Commissioner of Police, Odesanya, said they were only obeying a court order. In his reaction, the factional National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, described as illegal the NEC meeting of the party in Port Harcourt during which the tenure of the Makarfi-led caretaker committee was extended by one year.
A statement by Sheriff’s Media Assistant, Inuwa Bwala, claimed that “the said meeting breaches Section 31 sub Section 4 of the PDP constitution.” The section provides that it is only the national chairman who can convene a NEC meeting, after giving two weeks notice to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Meanwhile, Justice Nwamaka Ogbonnaya of the Federal Capital Territory High Court has told Sheriff that he is illegally parading himself as chairman of the PDP.Ruling on a suit filed by a contestant to the position of the Youth Leader of the party at the national convention, Danladi Ayuba, Justice Ogbonnaya stated that based on the judgement of Justice Valentine Ashi, which earlier sacked Sheriff and which has not been appealed against at the Court of Appeal, all the actions taken so far by Sheriff since June 29 have become a nullity.
“There is no evidence that the judgement of Justice Ashi has been appealed against, therefore, the judgement is a declarative one that must be obeyed.”Anything done contrary to the judgement of Ashi delivered earlier in June is null and void and of no effect. The judgement of Justice Ashi having not been appealed against, subsists, it is valid and it is binding.”
Besides, Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, yesterday, alleged being placed under house arrest at the old Presidential Lodge, Rivers State Government House where he lodged. . But the Police denied the allegation.