Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The two factions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were again at each other’s throats yesterday, when the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee warned Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the former national chairman of the party, to desist from parading himself in that capacity or be ready to go to jail.
But the former national vice chairman of the party who is now Sheriff’s deputy, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, in response, said it is the members of the caretaker committee of the PDP that actually risk jail terms because they are in contempt of a Federal High Court order.
A statement issued by the PDP spokesman, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye, said the caretaker committee had been confirmed several times by the court as the authentic body saddled with the task of providing leadership for the party, pending an elective convention for new leaders of the party.
“Our attention has been drawn to another set of garbage and tissue of lies put together by the discredited loyalists of Sheriff in the name of a press statement on November 28, 2016, wherein the group tried to sustain its illegal claim to the leadership of our party,” he said.
Adeyeye pointed out that the caretaker committee was confirmed on several occasions by the court as the authentic body saddled with the task of providing leadership for the party, pending the elective convention.
“The courts have spoken and their pronouncements are binding. However, those who wish to spend the rest of their lives behind prison bars may continue to utter heresy against the court. We hope their children would be proud to bear the family names of convicts,” he said.
The PDP spokesman said the party would have ignored Sheriff’s group but that leaving them to continue deceiving Nigerians would not be in the interest of democracy.
“First and foremost, we wish to state categorically that in consonance with judgment of various courts, which Sheriff and his team of confused travellers have not bothered to appeal, the former Borno State governor is not the chairman of our party.
“His consistent claim to the office is a continuation of their plans to sustain mayhem in our party, but nature and fair justice have taken care of his desperation.
“We wish to draw the attention of all Nigerians to the judgment delivered by Justice Valentine Ashi of the Abuja High Court, which states clearly that Sheriff was never and is not the PDP national chairman.
“It is instructive to note that Sheriff and his team of circus performers have not deemed it fit to appeal the court’s judgment. It is trite in law that a judgment not appealled is binding on the defendant.
“It is also morally wrong to accuse the caretaker committee of being the reason the party is facing challenges in terms of unfavourable election results, especially in Edo and Ondo States. Everyone knows who the real enemies of PDP are.
“We won’t also forget in a hurry the ignoble role Jimoh Ibrahim played in scuttling our campaign in the Ondo State election. We also know those who pushed him forward for the hatchet job.
“We are amused that the agents of darkness used by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to cause confusion and frustrate our campaign in the Ondo State election can accuse the caretaker committee of impunity.
“However, we simply want them to define what impunity is using their acts of betrayal as a case study. What they are doing is the worst form of impunity, lawlessness, greed and avarice.
“Their call on the caretaker committee to disband itself is uncharitable and unconstitutional. If they have any shame, they are the ones that should quietly disband. But honour cannot be expected from impostors.
“No matter what they say, we are determined as a political party to forge ahead and put our house in order even without their input,” Adeyeye said.
The party spokesman further noted that “the caretaker committee has not called for their expulsion against the claims they are making; the time for that has not come. But the rain of vengeance will not hang forever in the clouds”.
He added that the caretaker committee was appreciative of all loyal party members and urged them to keep the faith as the appellate court will do justice to the various appeals pending before it at the appropriate time to “bring an end to the antics of these enemies of progress masquerading as members of our party”.
However, the number two man on Sheriff’s side, Ojougboh, immediately reacted to Adeyeye’s statement, stating that it was the leadership of the caretaker committee that risked jail for contempt of court.
He insisted that Sheriff still remains the only and authentic national chairman of the PDP.
Ojougboh, in a statement yesterday, said the judgment Adeyeye was referring to has nothing to do with Sheriff.
“It is the caretaker committee that is actually playing with a jail term because there are Forms 48 and 49 already issued against them from the Federal High Court that are waiting for them. The effort to serve and arrest them was aborted because they evaded the law.
“Justice Mohammed J of the Abuja High Court ruled that the tenure of the NWC (National Working Committee) expires in 2018 and therefore, Sheriff remains the only and authentic national chairman of the PDP,” he said.