PDP Throws Out Sheriff, Markarfi Heads Caretaker Committee


Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

It was a game of intrigues in Port Harcourt on Saturday as the acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, was edged out in the national convention of the party held in Port Harcourt.

The decision to dissolve the national working committee (NWC) of the party was one of the first decisions of the Port Harcourt convention which took place after Sheriff had said the convention had been put off following a series of court orders that tried to stop the convention.

Sheriff had earlier in the day called off the convention at a press briefing he held at the Le Meridien Hotel, Port Harcourt, citing court orders restraining the party from proceeding with the convention as reason.

He addressed the press after a meeting that lasted several hours at the Government House, Port Harcourt. At the meeting were the 12 PDP governors, members of the national assembly, members of the national working committee and elders of the party.

THISDAY reliably gathered that the stakeholders had asked Sheriff to step down as acting national chairman of the party but he refused, insisting that he had till 2018 to preside over the affairs of the party.

The meeting was therefore deadlocked about 2.30pm, leading to his press briefing.

At the press briefing, Sheriff said, “If we proceed with the convention, we will be charged for contempt of court. As a responsible party, we have to respect the court orders. We will reconvene as soon as we are able to dispense with the court cases.

“We’ve been meeting since morning. We had challenges of series of court cases, we’ve decided to abandon election into Chairman, Secretary and auditor.

“We have suspended the convention; we had three different cases in Abuja and Lagos. INEC also said they will not supervise the election. We will be contravening the court and we will be charged for contempt of court. We went to court, but we were denied permission.”

He said he would reconvene the convention as soon as the court orders were vacated.

“We will do it as soon as we get them (the court orders) vacated. We’ve told all delegates to go home. There is no space for election,” he said.

But while Sheriff left Port Harcourt after his briefing, the 12 PDP governors as well as members of the National Assembly and other stakeholders headed straight to the Sharks Stadium venue of the convention and kicked off the programme, with Rivers State Governor and Chairman of the National Convention Committee, Nyesom Wike, in charge.

Through a motion moved by former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Austin Opara, and seconded by another former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, the convention dissolved the national working committee of the party, effectively sacking Sheriff from leadership of the party.