•Governors BoT, N’Assembly caucus to meet over stand-off
•PDP sufferring from its past sins, says APC
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Confusion continued to reign within the ranks of the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the National Caretaker Committee (NCC) on Tuesday described the storming of the national secretariat of the party by the ousted National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as lawless and detestable.
While responding to the come-back bid staged on Monday by the embattled former chairman, Sheriff, the spokesman of the PDP NCC, Prince Dayo Adeyeye said there was evidence of a possible role of the federal government in present crisis as can be seen through the level of security provided for Sheriff by a team of SSS men when he stormed the national secretariat yesterday.
“The All Progressives Congress (APC) has contracted Sheriff and his cohorts to scuttle the chances of the PDP in the Edo governorship elections. We have credible intelligence that Sheriff had a meeting last Sunday night with an APC governor from the North-west, where it was organised that he would be given full security and financial support to exacerbate the crisis in the PDP with the objective of preventing the PDP from presenting a candidate for the Edo State governorship elections, or in the very least, prevent the PDP from offering a serious challenge to APC whose electoral fortunes has continued to nose-dive,” he said.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, Adeyeye said it had alerted the police of an impending invasion of the party’s premises but was surprised how Sheriff and the other renegades were allowed to gain entry into the secretariat, where they later proceeded to address a press conference.
He said the party was still trying to understand the role of the police in the entire saga, adding that “it is curious that the police made no arrest of the thugs who openly brandished various dangerous weapons in and around the premises of the secretariat in full glare of the police.
Adeyeye accused the former National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Sheriff, former National Secretary, Prof Olawale Oladipo and former National Auditor, Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju of mobilising three lorry loads of thugs and bandits to invade the national secretariat.
“When rumors of the planned invasion filtered out on Sunday, we took steps to alert the police to secure the building and to protect the lives and properties of members. Up to a point, the police discharged their responsibilities satisfactory however, later on without any justification whatsoever, Ali Modu Sheriff and the other renegades were allowed to gain entry into the secretariat, where they later proceeded to address a press conference.
Adeyeye assured the party faithful that the party had taken steps to ensure that Sheriff and his cohorts do not loot the property of the party, adding that staff of the party have been instructed on what to do in this regard.
He said contrary to Sheriff ‘s claim that he has a court order to back his come-back bid, there was no such order.
Adeyeye said Sheriff and his cohorts have continued to shop around to buy any court order at any price, but that so far they have not succeeded, “thanks to the vigilance and integrity of the judiciary.”
Speaking further, Adeyeye said Sheriff was appointed and not elected by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party to complete the tenure of Alhaji Adamu Mauzu.
According to Adeyeye, the appointment of Sheriff was not ratified by any national convention, adding that constitutionally, he has no other mandate which can extend beyond May 21, 2016.
“The tenure of Mu’azu legally would have ended on the February 14, 2016. Sheriff was given an extension of months by the NEC of our party to organize a National Convention,” he said.
Regarding the claim by Sheriff that he and some NWC members met and postponed the Port Harcourt convention, Adeyeye maintained that only the national convention itself can order a cancellation or postponement of the event once it has been fixed and not any individual.
“The national convention is the supreme organ of the party under Article 3302) of the PDP constitution. In the exercise of its power under Article all officers of 33(5) (b) & (e) of the constitution, the national convention removal of the party and set up a caretaker committee to plan and organise a national convention within 90 days the national convention of PDP can only be called by NEC and once that is done, its convention can cancel and postpone its proceedings. No individual or other organ of the party can postpone or cancel the national convention.
“The national convention therefore took place legally and constitutionally. The former deputy national chairman, Chief Uche Secondus acted for the former national chairman who was absent in accordance with the provisions of Article 35(3) (b) of the PDP constitution. The Federal High Court in suit NO FHC/ PH/CS/524/2016 has endorsed the decisions of the national convention held in Port Harcourt on 21/05/16.
“The order of the Federal High Court presided over by Justice A.M Liman is still subsisting and has not elapsed contrary to the insinuation of Sheriff. The order ill subsist until the determination of the motion of notice. The motion on notice will come up for hearing on Thursday. Only three of the members of the defunct national officers are still parading themselves but constitutionally they cannot form a quorum for any legitimate business of the party. Under Article 29(4) of the PDP constitution as amended the quorum of the NWC is two- third of the membership drawn from at least two- thirds of the zones in the country.
“It is therefore very clear that three people cannot make up the NWC. We also wonder who Sheriff would be chairman over when he is already rejected by 99.99 per cent of the party The entire stakeholders of the party, including governors, National Assembly members, Board of Trustees (BoT) members and others were at the party secretariat last week to usher in members of the National Caretaker Committee (NCC). Immediate past members of the National Working Committee (NWC), except the trio of Sheriff, Oladipo and Adeyanju were also on hand to hand over to the NCC.
“The NCC is not distracted by the activities of the fifth columnists in the party. We remain very focused on the assignment and the mandate given to us at the national convention held in Port Harcourt,” he said.
Following yesterday forceful take over of the secretariat of the PDP, the governors elected on the platform of the party, Board of Trustees (BoT) and National Assembly caucus have convened a meeting today (Wednesday) to address the latest development in the party.
Other people expected at the meeting taking place at the Ondo Governor Lodge, Abuja, are former governors of the party and former principals of National Assembly.
The planned meeting of the PDP national caucus came just as the spokesman of the NCC, Adeyeye said yesterday that as far as the party was concerned, Sheriff is in the past in the leadership of the party.
In a statement issued yesterday by the Director General of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Osaro Onaiwu, explained that though Sheriff was not invited to the caucus meeting, the purpose of the meeting is to find a lasting solution to the crisis bedevelling the party.
On his part, Makarfi dismissed the report of support for the leadership of Sheriff, describing it as false and fraudulent.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja who sought his position on such report, Makarfi said he never granted any press interview nor made any statement to that effect.
“That’s very fraudulent. I saw him at the convention of course, but I haven’t sat privately with Sheriff in the last three months, or anybody representing him not to talk of me making such a statement.
“I haven’t granted any press statement. If that is the case, how can it be that the only statement I would make is to apologise to him and express support for him? There is no basis for that, absolutely no basis for that. This is what we are trying to get rid from PDP and all the so-called court orders, judgment being bandied about aren’t really true.
Responding to the allegations that it was working in cahoot with Sheriff to cause crisis in the opposition party, APC described it as baseless and laughable.
The party said the PDP is suffering from its sins of the past.
The APC National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni, the party said instead of joining issues with the baseless and laughable allegations, the it would rather face issues that will bring about all-inclusive development in the country.
“However, it should be put on record that the PDP forced on them whatever crisis it is troubled with today due to its politics of imposition and other undemocratic practices which the APC abhors. The PDP should put its house in order rather than playing to the gallery and blaming others but themselves for their sins which has come to hunt them.
“Also, it is evident that the PDP has chosen to employ diversionary tactics because of its inability to produce credible candidates for the forthcoming elections in Edo and Ondo States.”