Appeal Court Rules on PDP Leadership Tussle Today

• Opposition merger talks face challenges
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt will today deliver judgment on the leadership crisis that has almost torn the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) apart since May last year.
After several court rulings on the crisis some of which contradicted each other, the matter was referred to the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt for adjudication.

The Appeal Court in Port Harcourt after hearing the submissions  in the appeal filed by Senator Ali Modu Sheriff against the judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, which sacked him as the party’s National Chairman, reserved judgment till February 17, 2017.

Today’s judgment is regarded a major decider which might lead to the resolution of the nine-month crisis.
The Port Harcourt case will also go a long way in deciding where the pendulum would swing in another case before an Appeal Court in Abuja under Justice Ibrahim Saulawa.

To pave the way for the make or mar judgment, the Sheriff faction last January withdrew the petition against the panel over alleged bias in the reinstatement of Eyitayo Jegede as the PDP candidate in the November 2016 Ondo State governorship election.

In a letter dated January 31, 2017 addressed to the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, Sheriff faction said: “We humbly apply to withdraw the said petition against the justices and regret any inconvenience same may have occasioned on all affected parties.”

The letter was signed by Prof. Wale Oladipo and Bashir Maidugu as PDP factional National Secretary and National Legal Adviser respectively.
Before now, both factions in the conflict had expressed optimism that they would get favourable ruling from the Appeal Court.

The Deputy National Chairman of the  faction loyal to Sheriff and former National Vice Chairman, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, had hinged his confidence on the grounds that Sheriff was illegally removed from office after he cancelled a scheduled national convention in obedience to the ruling of Federal High Court in Lagos.

However, the leadership of the PDP National Caretaker Committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi has said they have full confidence that the judiciary will not let the party down, adding that from the level of support it has within the ranks of the party membership there is no need to doubt where the soul of the party is.
The Makarfi committee had followed up this optimism by embarking on confidence-boosting visitation to the founding fathers of the party to brief them on the rebuilding process of PDP.

It has also started merger discussions with seven political parties, which include the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Alliance Democracy (AD), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) among others.
But THISDAY gathered yesterday that all might not entirely be well with the move, as some of the parties mentioned in the merger talk are not comfortable with what PDP is offering on the table.

It was learnt that the main opposition, PDP, has said that it would not ready to lose its name and logo while persuading others to lose their identities for the success of the political arrangement.

A reliable source who is also a leading member of one of the parties involved in the talks told THISDAY that some of them might soon pull out of the talk “if the PDP is not ready to change its stand.”
The National Publicity Secretary of SDP, Alfa Mohammad, also confirmed that the terms of agreement listed by his party in order to join the merger talk has not been met.

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