Makarfi, Sheriff trade barbs over reopening of party’s secretariat
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja,
Amby Uneze in Owerri, Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto and John Shiklam in Kaduna
The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) continued yesterday with the Imo, Sokoto and Kaduna State chapters of the party rejecting Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as their National Chairman.
They also pledged to support the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the party.
In Imo State, critical stakeholders of the party, including a Board of Trustees (BoT) member, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; former Governor of the state, Chief Achike Udenwa; former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha; former Woman Leader, Ambassador Kema Chikwe; former and present members of the national and state assembly unanimously rejected the Court of Appeal which reinstated National Chairman of the party, Sheriff.
In a communiqué issued at the end of her meeting yesterday in Owerri, the Imo State capital, where the leaders reviewed the state of the party in the state and at the national level in view of the recent Court of Appeal judgment in Port Harcourt, the stakeholders passed an absolute vote-of-confidence on the Mafarfi-led National Caretaker Committee.
They also pledged support to the Charles Ezekwem-led state executive committee under whose leadership they reaffirm their total loyalty and commitment.
The communiqué which was signed by Iwuanayanwu, Ihedioha, Udenwa, Kema Chikwe, Athan Achonu, Jerry Alagbaoso, Ezeani ThankGod, Edie Mbadiwe, Chudi Uwazurike, Ezenwa Onyewuchi and 25 others, resolved to be focused and work in harmony with the ultimate objectives of returning PDP to power in the state by 2019.
“The leaders hereby resolve to be focused and work in harmony with the ultimate objectives of returning PDP to power in Imo State in 2019, to consult periodically in matters concerning the party, and that the Ezekwem-led state executive should initiate meetings in all wards, local government areas and zones with the view to properly briefing and communicating party faithful in the state,” it stated.
The communiqué further stated: “We reaffirm our confidence in the judiciary. In furtherance to our objective and in consonance with the desire of the people of Imo State to recapture Douglas House in 2019, we disassociate ourselves wholly and entirely from both Sheriff and his cohorts who are established agents of opponents.”
In Sokoto State, the party unanimously endorsed the decision of its stakeholders in Abuja to recognise Makarfi as the authentic national chairman of the party instead of Sheriff that was favoured by the verdict of the appeal court recently.
Its state Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Milgoma, made this known to journalists shortly after a meeting with state executive members of the party and the 23 local government areas party chairmen in Sokoto.
Milgoma described those supporting Sheriff in the state as impostors and charlatans who are bent on destroying what they did not build.
He said the leadership of the party, including its elders, party state executive members, chairmen from wards to local government areas and their supporters are solidly behind Makarfi as the only known and authenticated national chairman.
“We endorsed the decision taken by our leaders, including the resolution to seek redress at the Supreme Court.
“To appeal the irrational judgment of the Appeal Court of Port Harcourt, where it gave our party to a group that has no business whatsoever with our survival.
“Therefore, we abide by the resolution of the majority of our leaders and governors, including the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party to support Senator Ahmed Makarfi as the party’s national chairman,” Milgoma averred.
Also, in Kaduna State, the party declared its loyalty to Makarfi.
In a communique issued at the end of its state executive meeting, it maintained that the reinstatement of Sheriff as the national chairman by the Appeal Court was an act of impunity which is against the constitution of the party.
According to the statement, the state executives and members of the PDP in the state said they would remain loyal and answerable to Makarfi’s national caretaker committee until the decision of the Supreme Court on the matter.
The communique signed by the chairman of the communique drafting committee, Dr. John Ayuba, said the party stands by the judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt which endorsed the decision of the May 21, 2016, national convention.
The communique said PDP in Kaduna State viewed the decision of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt which nullified the decision of the national convention of May 21, 2016 and reinstated the Sheriff-led National Working Committee (NWC) as a miscarriage of justice and complete negation of the party’s constitution.
“The Kaduna State chapter of the PDP views the reinstatement of the former Sheriff-led NWC of the party by the appellate court as an act of impunity which is against the principles of the PDP constitution hence, an attempt to derail the democratic governance of our country. “Members of the PDP in Kaduna State should not lose focus of where we are going as we know where we are coming from. We must face the current challenges headlong to ensure that we change the change in 2019”
“The PDP in Kaduna State remains united, strong, resolute, steadfast and solidly loyal and answerable to the national caretaker committee under the leadership of Makarfi.
“The stakeholders and leaders of the party are enjoined to go back to their senatorial districts, local government areas and wards to convene meetings of the party and disseminate the foregoing to members.
“However, members are to remain calm, law abiding as they await the verdict of the Supreme Court on the matter,” the communique said.
Meanwhile, the factions in the party have continued to accuse each other of breaching the law.
The renewed altercation came just as dozens of policemen yesterday successfully blocked pro-Makarfi protesters from gaining entrance into the national secretariat of the PDP where Sheriff has commenced renovation work.
Apparently aware of the planned protest, the police authorities deployed two truckloads of anti-riot policemen to disperse the pro-Makarfi PDP youths who stormed the secretariat early morning yesterday.
Addressing journalists at the temporary office of the Makarfi- led National Caretaker Committee, its spokesman, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, accused Sheriff of occupying the PDP national secretariat illegally.
He said the police and the lovers of peace and democracy should prevail on Sheriff and his group to respect the on-going litigation processes.
The PDP spokesman said the police should ensure that Sheriff and his group do not occupy the national secretariat in order to avoid breakdown of law and order.
According to Adeyeye, since the party led by the National Caretaker Committee has filed appeal against the recent judgment of the Appeal Court, the status quo ante remains until the determination of the appeal to the Supreme Court.
“We are calling on the police and the general public and lovers of peace and democracy to ask Sheriff and his followers to respect the on-going litigation processes. The police should ensure that Sheriff and his followers do not occupy the National Secretariat in order to avoid breakdown of law and order. We have noticed that the Police have taken sides in this matter perhaps because of directives from the APC but “a stitch in time saves nine.”
While accusing Sheriff of forcefully breaking into the National Secretariat of the party, Adeyeye said the caretaker committee wants him to immediately vacate the party premises. Adeyeye said Sheriff has perfected plans to receive non-serving state executive committees at the National Secretariat in order to mislead unsuspecting members of the public that he has been accepted by the party’s organs.
He urged party supporters to remain calm and steadfast pending the determination of the appeal before the Supreme Court.
The National Caretaker Committee spokesman again accused the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), of complicity, adding that it has it on good authority that “the Minister of Transportion, Rotimi Amaechi, has deployed his former Abuja Liaison Officer Mr. John Enebeli, among others to lure some members of staff in support of Sheriff by promising them huge sum of money to offset their outstanding allowances.”
However, the former adviser to ex-president Goodluck Jonathan on Political Affairs, Ali Ahmed Gulak, has defended Sheriff’s action, saying he is keeping to an agreement reached by party stakeholder that whoever wins at the appeal should unite the party and organise a national convention.
Speaking to journalists at his private office in the Wuse area of Abuja, the former presidential aide accused Makarfi of distorting the facts on the gentleman agreement reached between him and Sheriff.
“Our leaders called all parties together and they agreed that in order to pursue genuine reconciliation that once the Port Harcourt Appeal Court judgment comes, that we all should come together and nobody should appeal the judgment because we believe that even if you have a legal victory in court, you still need political solution.
“It was agreed all that whichever side that wins at the Appeal Court, we should unite the party and organise a national convention where new national officers will be elected. But instead of keeping to the agreement, some of the stakeholders of the party were encouraged by Makarfi to go on national television to say they are appealing against the judgment at the Supreme Court,” he said.
He said Sheriff leadership is not afraid of the supreme court because the apex court does not belong to those that grandstand and make statements as if the supreme court belongs to them.
Gulak who was appointed deputy national chairman (North) by Sheriff in the wake of the crisis, said that takeover of national secretariat was lawful since Sheriff leadership has been affirmed by the Appeal Court.
“You know as a fact, the former Inspector General of Police (IG), Solomon Arase, reached agreement with both factions to lock up the secretariat of the PDP because there was a conflicting court order from several high courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
“So because of be conflicting judgments that were brewing violence and in order to avert breakdown of law and order, the police in their wisdom called all the parties concerned and they all agreed that the secretariat be closed until we have a judgment from a superior court,” he said.
Speaking Sheriff’s plans, Gulak said he is going to lead the NWC to conduct a new national convention where new national officers will emerge but that he (Sheriff) would not contest the office of the chairman.