Removal of Sheriff as PDP acting chairman was valid, says court

By Ikenga Chronicles July 5, 2016

Removal of Sheriff as PDP acting chairman was valid, says court

Saxone Akhaine, Azimazi Momoh Jimoh and Kelvin Ebiri

• ‘I remain the party’s boss’
• Makarfi urges ex- gov to embrace peace

A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has affirmed that Senator Ali Modu Sheriff was duly removed from office as the acting national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The court declared that the May 21, 2016 national convention of the PDP, which ushered in the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led national caretaker committee of the party, was duly constituted. It also ruled that the dissolution of the National Working Committee (NWC) and the National Executive Committee (NEC) by that convention were valid.

Justice Abdullahi Liman made the declarations while delivering judgment in the suit filed by the PDP against Sheriff, Prof. Adewole Oladipo (sued as themselves and as representing national officers), INEC and State Security Service.

The judge pointed out that Article 31 (1) of the PDP Constitution vests the powers to convene a national convention on the NEC. And pursuant to the constitution of the party, the former acting national chairman has no powers to unilaterally postpone the properly constituted national convention on a day all delegates had converged in Port Harcourt for the convention.

The court described Sheriff’s decision to unilaterally postpone the convention after he had been screened and disqualified as most unconscionable. It noted that Sheriff had participated in all the processes leading to the national convention, only to make a u-turn at the final minute when he was disqualified.

The court observed that Sheriff, after his disqualification after his screening, should have gone to the venue of the national convention to seek the opinion of delegates whether they were prepared to go on with the exercise or not.

Justice Liman explained 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.

“The national chairman cannot postpone it (convention). The principle and spirit of democracy, even in a party, vigorously abhors autocracy. In the absence of the national chairman, the deputy national chairman presided over the convention. The constitution of the party is in support of this. In view of this, the National Convention was well convened and can exercise the authority to elect and remove national officers of the party. It is obvious that the dissolution of the NEC and NWC of the party was within the powers of the convention. Nothing in those decisions has violated the norm or law,” he said.

The court restrained Sheriff, Oladipo and other sacked members of the NWC and NEC from parading themselves as officials of the PDP.

But Sheriff said he remained the national chairman of the PDP. Reacting to the judgement at a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, he argued that the ruling of an Abuja High Court that validated his chairmanship of the party remained valid.

He said the Port Harcourt verdict did not override the injunction because the ‎two courts were of equal competence and jurisdiction.

In his reaction to the judgement, Chairman of the PDP Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, urged Sheriff to embrace peace and join hands with the panel to promote the party.

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