PDP Leadership Crisis: Court Reserves Judgment in Makarfi’s Appeal 

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Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Court of Appeal in Abuja yesterday reserved judgment in the appeal filed by. the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senator Ahmed Markafi and the secretary, Senator Ben Obi challenging a federal high court judgment that declined to recognize them as national officers.

The two appellants in their appeal argued by Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN asked the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the high court Abuja delivered  by Justice Okon Abang which affirmed Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the authentic national chairman of the party.

In the appeal, the appellants claimed that the trial judge erred in law by concluding that Sheriff was the national chairman of the party without giving them hearing in a case filed by  Sheriff before arriving at the conclusion.

They claimed that the action of the judge constituted a denial of fair hearing and subsequently led to a miscarriage of justice in the judgment.

The appellants therefore asked the  court panel presided over by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, to void the decision of the lower court and set it aside.

However, in their objection to the appeal, the respondents led by Prince Biyi Poroye urged the court to decline jurisdiction on the ground that an appeal had been entered at the Supreme Court to challenge the decision of the court of appeal which granted leave to Makarfi and Obi to be eligible to file appeal in the matter.

Counsel to the respondent, Chief Beluolisa Nwofor SAN told the court that since the appeal had been formally entered at the Apex court and the motion for stay of proceedings also filed, it had become automatic for the appeal court to hands off from the matter as a mark of respect to the court hierarchy.

In the alternative, in his brief of argument, the counsel informed the court that the two appellants (Makarfi and Obi) filed two separate briefs of arguments dated 10 November and November 11, 2016 which he claimed constituted abuse of court process and demanded that the case be dismissed.

Nwofor, said that the consequences of the abuse of court process was an out-right dismissal adding that if the two briefs of arguments filed in  same matter were dismissed on account of abuse, then there was no appeal before the court to adjustable upon.

He urged the court to hold that there was no brief of argument filed before it by the two appellants and urged the court to dismiss the appeal.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) represented by Nelson Anih did not file any process but however told the court that the electoral body would abide by the final decision wherever it goes.

Also Ali Modu Sheriff PDP faction represented by Mr. Rapheal Oluyede also did not file any process but aligned himself with the submissions of Nwofor.

After taking arguments from all the parties, Justice Saulawa said that judgment would be reserved and that the date for its delivery will be communicated to the parties involved.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High court Abuja had in his judgment of June 26, 2016, held that Ali Modu Sheriff was the authentic National Chairman of the PDP.

He based his decision on the  order of the Lagos division of the federal high court that restrained PDP from holding the convention where Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Ben Obi emerged as National Chairman and National Secretary of the National Caretaker Committee respectively, having purportedly dissolved the Ali Modu Sheriff leadership.