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Sheriff, Makarfi return to the trenches




Barely a week after they insisted that the peace deal entered into was still in place, the warring factions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are at each other’s throat again.

The Senator Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction and the rival Interim Caretaker Committee chaired by Senator Ahmed Makarfi had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to reconcile and form one common front in the interest of the party and democracy in the country.

Consequently they resolved to establish a joint 28-member peace Committee tasked with reuniting all aggrieved members, and a date was fixed for the inauguration.

However, they failed to constitute the Committee last week Wednesday as scheduled prompting speculations that the peace deal might have collapsed. In fact, sources claimed that the governors elected under the platform of the PDP expressed reservations over the posturing of Sheriff on the matter and may have prevailed on Makarfi to have a second thought.

The spokesman for Sheriff faction, Mr. Bernard Mikko who denied that the peace deal has come to an end, said those criticizing Sheriff are either mischievous or ignorant of the content of the agreement reached in the MoU endorsed by both factions.

He explained that the inauguration of the joint committee was delayed because of some logistical issues that involved the deepening of consultation for attaining genuine peace and reconciliation in the party.

Similarly, the Publicity Secretary of the Makarfi-led Committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, debunked claims that the rapprochement between Makarfi and Sheriff has hit the rocks.

He said that the peace deal was still in place and that the act of uniting all members of the party was in progress despite some delays. But feelers from both factions yesterday indicated that the MoU was on the verge of being repudiated with the Sheriff faction blaming it on Makarfi having failed to dissolve its Interim Committee as expected.

Besides, the faction claimed that Sheriff was inclined to step down at the ‘next unity convention.’ “The attention of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party has been drawn to various comments on the state of affairs in the PDP credited to one Prince Adeyeye claiming to be speaking as the national publicity secretary, particularly as the reconciliation process appears to have relapsed due to Makarfi’s insistence not to disband when Senator Ali Modu Sheriff is inclined to stepping down at the next unity convention that will usher in new executive members of the party,” Mikko stated in a message sent to The Guardian.

He said Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja had declared the Sen. Ahmed Makarfi Caretaker Committee illegal and therefore it was contemptuous of the court for Adeyeye or any member of the Committee to act for the PDP when a valid court order to the contrary is l subsisting.

“Adeyeye is hereby reminded that the terms of the MoU for reconciliation did not vitiate subsisting court orders and or without prejudice to pending legal matters. While we will respect the terms of the MoU in the reconciliatory process, we will not fail to activate the legal processes and hold them in contempt for any breach of the law,” he added.

Mikko warned that if they continue with the impunity and acts in disobedience of the law, disciplinary legal procedures, particularly forms 48 and 49 would be processed against them.

He assured party members that Sheriff was committed to resolving the leadership imbroglio in accordance with the law. But Adeyeye who said he would not join issues with Mikko because he has not spoken like a normal person, accused the Sheriff faction of “initiating and collapsing” the peace deal.

“Who are they to be threatening someone with contempt of court when we also have several judgments against them, which specifically declared that Sheriff is not the rightful chairman of the party? We also have contempt of court hanging on them,” he told The Guardian.

The governors had been irked that Sheriff’s decision to raise a parallel governorship candidate for the Ondo election was antithetical to the spirit behind the peace initiative.

Besides, it was learnt that the Makatfi camp is agitated by the inauguration of parallel party executives at the state and councils level in Delta state, after the amity has commenced.

Nonetheless the Sheriff faction equally accused PDP governors of working against the peace panel, asserting that many governors had an agenda to continue the culture of impunity in the party.

“What has governorship got to do with reconciliation in the party? The first clause in the MoU is ‘without prejudice to all pending matters in court.’ If they say so, it means the whole idea of reconciliation is deceitful with the intention to acquiesce impunity, which is the major problem in PDP,” he told The Guardian.

The reconciliatory efforts to get the embattled main opposition party out of the political quagmire since the exit of its National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu in May last year has been progressing retrogressively.

Mu’azu had surrendered to pressure and resigned following PDP’s defeat at the 2015 general elections by the All Progressives Congress (APC). His deputy, Prince Uche Secondus, had taken charge as the acting national chairman pending the election of a substantive chairman.

Secondus was not exempted from attacks and pressures by those who regarded him as part of the problems that led to the defeat of the party particularly at the presidential election.

Besides, Secondus was accused of usurping the position of the North East zone contrary to the provisions of the party’s Constitution. Ahmed Gulak former Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, who championed this course eventually, booted Secondus out with a court order he secured to that effect.

The breather that was expected in the party when Senator Ali Modu Sheriff was drafted in by the PDP governors and other stakeholders turned out to be a stoking of the fire. Sheriff who was empowered to lead the party for a period of three months schemed to perpetuate himself in relevance not just becoming the chairman till 2018 but also possibly emerging the party’s presidential candidate for the 2019 general election.

The consequence was the emergence of two main factions that led to the holding of parallel conventions of the party in Port Harcourt and Abuja on May 21 this year. The problem was however compounded when Sheriff was removed and the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led Committee was inaugurated, coupled with the confusion created by various contradictory court orders, rulings and injunctions obtained by the factions.

The two factions have clashed physically over who occupies the Wadata House national headquarters in Abuja and in a bid to avoid chaos and the attendant loss of lives and property, the police has sealed up the premises for about 53 days now.

Hopes of resolution of the impasse that pitched the ousted national chairman’s group against the National Caretaker Committee were raised recently when it became public knowledge that both factions met to find a common solution to the problem.

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