By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The leadership battle in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will resume today at the Supreme Court, as the court commences hearing on the applications brought by the two factional groups laying claim to the leadership of the party.
The Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee (NCC) of the party is challenging the validity of the Court of Appealâ€™s judgment, which affirmed Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the substantive National Chairman of the PDP.
The court had at its last sitting on May 4, ordered the counsel in the matter to file their written briefs and adjourned to May 25 for hearing of the applications.
However for reasons that could not be ascertained, it was learnt yesterday that the matter has been rescheduled for today, three days earlier than the adjourned date.
In its argument at the last sitting, the Sheriff-led PDP gave the Supreme Court reasons why it could not hear the appeal brought before it by the Makarfi-led NCC.
The Sheriff group had argued that the Makarfi committee, having been declared illegal by the February 17 judgment of the Court of Appeal, lacked the power to take decisions on behalf of the party, including initiating court proceedings in its name.
The group stated this in a written argument it made in support of an application it filed on March 21 seeking to strike out the appeal filed on February 27 by the Makarfi committee.
The written submission was filed on May 10 in compliance with the Supreme Courtâ€™s directive.
The Sheriff-led PDP is contending that the Makarfi committee did not obtain the necessary authorisation of the PDP to appeal in its name and on its behalf, because the PDP under the current leadership was satisfied with the Appeal Court judgment and did not intend to challenge it.
In the address written by its legal team led by Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Sheriff and his supporters submitted that since the Court of Appeal, in its February 17 judgment, declared that the Sheriff-led NEC was the authentic leadership organ of the PDP, the Makarfi-led committee could no longer pursue an appeal in the name of the party.
The Sheriff-led PDP further argued that the decision by the Makarfi committee to file an appeal in the name of the PDP without its authorisation was not only illegal, it violated the partyâ€™s constitution.
Relying on the provisions of Chapter 5, Articles 35(1), 36(1) and 42(1) of the PDP constitution, it argued that the party, being a corporate personality, could only act through the principal national officers whose powers and functions are stated in the constitution.
But in its counter argument, the Makarfi-led committee, represented by a team led by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), is asking the court to discountenance the argument by the Sheriff-led PDP and has asked the Supreme Court to hear its appeal, in which it among others urged the Supreme Court to set aside the Appeal Court judgment of February 17.
The Makarfi committee also questioned the legitimacy of the application filed by the Sheriff-led PDP, arguing that it was not only strange, but intended to frustrate the hearing of the main appeal.