Sheriff Reopens PDP Secretariat

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• To unfold peace agenda Monday

• Makarfi accuses chairman of breaking into office

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

Eight months after security forces locked up the national secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja, the office was reopened yesterday by the court-reinstated national chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.

The national secretariat of the main opposition party was locked up due to the leadership crisis that led to a prolonged legal tussle and clashes by party supporters.

Speaking at a brief ceremony held in his dusty office yesterday evening, Sheriff said he was keeping his promise to reopen the party’s office and get operations running.

A highly elated Sheriff said that he and his leadership had come to assess the offices and premises for necessary repairs to be made in readiness for the formal resumption of normal duties next week.

“We are here at the national secretariat to assess the place so that we can resume either on Monday or Tuesday. We will go round to determine the kind of repairs to be undertaken.

“We will get our painters and cleaners over by the weekend to work on it and while they are doing that, we will continue with our consultations just like we have been doing since the judgment,” he said.

Sheriff and other members of the National Working Committee arrived the party secretariat at about 6 p.m. heralded with shouts of “PDP Power” from supporters who joined him to open the office.

Sheriff said he and other NWC members will be addressing a press conference at the national secretariat on Monday where he will unfold the agenda to restore peace to the party.

Sheriff will also be visiting one of the founding fathers of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, as part his peace overtures.

Sheriff and his faction of the PDP were reinstated as the de facto leadership of the PDP by the Appeal Court last week.

However, the faction led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi has vowed to challenge the judgment at the Supreme Court.

But in reaction to the reopening of the secretariat of the party yesterday, Makarfi described it as illegal and capable of fueling violent conflict.

In a statement issued by the spokesman of the faction he leads, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye, the party said Sheriff and his team forcefully entered the party’s premise without recourse to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) who was in the custody of the keys.

“As far as we are concerned, the forceful entry of Ali Modu Sheriff and his team into the party secretariat is illegal and most unwelcomed.

“We say this because the keys to the secretariat are with the Board of Trustees and we’ve checked with them, and can confirm that the keys were not handed over to Sheriff or any of his followers,” he said.

The statement said the implication of this was that he broke into the secretariat, terming it a criminal offence.

“We also expected that Modu Sheriff should have waited for the conclusion of the appeal we filed at the Supreme Court before he forced himself in, just like we held on when we got a court judgment favouring us last year.

“We are condemning his action in totality and we view it as an affront on the rule of law. Given his act of illegality, we state clearly that he should be held responsible for any loss of documents or damage to the property within the party secretariat,” Adeyeye said.

He added that none of the staff of the PDP was around when the team led by Sheriff gained entry into the place.

“The administrative staff as accounting officers were not around to see the event happen, and as the custodians of the property of the party, they refused to participate in the illegal entry made by Ali Modu Sheriff.

“His action is provocative and is capable of causing another round of crisis in the party. We advise him in his own interest to vacate the secretariat immediately.

“We also call on authority of the Nigerian Police to prevent chaos by flushing Ali Modu Sheriff and his team out of the PDP secretariat and let all parties wait for the judgment of the Supreme Court which is the highest court in the land,” he said.