PDP in a Conundrum in Yobe

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The defunct National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party led by Ahmed Makarfi has left a mess in Yobe State, when in defiance of a court order it chose to confer legitimacy on a faction not recognised by law, ‎writes Tobi Soniyi

After the Supreme Court judgment that gave victory to Senator Ahmed Makarfi’s faction against the Ali Modu Sheriff’s group, members of the Peoples Democratic Party who stood with Makarfi thought it was their right to take over the party across the country.

This created frictions between factions loyal to Sheriff and those loyal to Makarfi. Even though there were legitimate executives in place in some of these states, the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee, now dissolved found it difficult to accept these excos. This is the situation in Ogun and Yobe states.

In Yobe, those loyal to Makarfi went overboard and acted with impunity relying on their support base in Abuja. They succeeded in plunging the party into crisis in Yobe.
For instance, they refused to abide by a court ruling which restrained the caretaker committee from recognizing any other exco other that the one led by Alhaji Gana Lawan.

A high court in Damaturu had issued an order restraining the National Caretaker Committee Chairman and others from recognizing Alhaji Sani Inwa Nguru as state chairman of the party.
Ruling on the suit which had Alhaji Gana Lawan and 26 others as plaintiffs, Justice U.Z Muhammed said “”It is hereby ordered that the 1st defendant/respondent, any other than the applicants is/are hereby restrained from parading himself /themselves as chairman or state executive committee of PDP in Yobe State pending the determination of the plaintiff/applicants motion on notice.”

The defendants/respondents in the case were Alhaji Sani Inuwa Nguru, PDP; the chairman PDP caretaker Committee, the Inspector General of police, Chairman of INEC and Director General of Department of State Security.

The judge also ordered that “The 2nd – 6th defendants (Makarfi and the party and others) are restrained from recognising or dealing with other person(s) other than the plaintiffs/applicants pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice”
The judge further ordered that the 1st defendant/respondent to suspend all activities as chairman of PDP in Yobe and status quo be maintained pending the determination of the motion on notice.

Stakeholders believed that the crisis would have been avoided if Makarfii had acted on an earlier petition titled “complaint regarding and request for the immediate correction of the looming impertinence and impunity on our prestigious polity”, written to him by Alhaji Lawan Gana Karasuwa as state chairman of the party.

The petition explained to Makarfi that the state exco emerged through due process. The petitioner stated that the appointment of a 9-man caretaker committee to run the affairs of the party’s Yobe State chapter was legitimate.
The approval, the petitioner was given on April 18th 2016 by the then national secretary of the PDP, Professor Wale Oladipo.

Also, the petition stated that in accordance with the party’s constitution, the PDP NWC appointed an 11-man committee to conduct congresses for three adhoc ward delegates, Ward LGA and State in Yobe State and same was communicated to the Yobe State chapter of the party by the National Organizing Secretary (Abubakar Mustapha), on 29th April 2016.
It stated that the process was duly followed to produce an exco with a tenure running from 2016 to 2020. In effect, informed Makarfi that they are the duly elected Exco of the PDP in Yobe.

But despite this petition and the court order, the legitimate state exco in Yobe was treated with disdain.
In order not to leave nothing to chance and ensure that the legitimate exco in Yobe was allowed to participate in last Saturday’s convention, the state executive of the party led by Gana Lawan and 26 others again approached the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The court ordered the National Headquarters of the PDP to recognize only the state executive of the party led by Alhaji Gana Lawan for the purpose of the national convention which held last Saturday and other key activities of the party.

Ruling on an ex-parte motion filed by Lawan and 26 other members of the party against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the PDP and seven others, Justice Binta Murtala Nyako granted the seven prayers sought by the plaintiffs and restrained the INEC, PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, interim National Chairman of the PDP from “recognizing any other person or group of persons as the authentic leadership or Executive Committee of the PDP in Yobe State except the party leadership structure duly elected and headed by the plaintiffs as the authentic officers of the Yobe State Executive Committee of the PDP pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice”.

The court also restrained Alhaji Sani Inuwa Nguru from continuing to parade himself as the chairman of the Yobe State Executive Committee of the PDP pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

Justice Nyako also restrained the PDP and its National Caretaker Committee from taking any steps to dissolve or otherwise replace the Gana Lawan faction as the authentic officers of the Yobe State Executive Committee of the PDP except by elections due to be conducted in May 2020 pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

The judge also directed that the PDP is restrained from conducting any primary election in Yobe State except through the instrumentality of the Plaintiffs in the organisation and conduct of the electoral college for the election of party candidates for general and other elections to public offices pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

INEC was further restrained from recognizing and accepting the results of and processing any list of candidates based on any primary election of the PDP in Yobe State conducted by the said National Executive Committee, National Caretaker Committee or other national leadership of the PDP howsoever styled.

The plaintiffs were also granted leave to serve the originating summons as well as all other accompanying processes in this suit on Nguru and INEC and outside the jurisdiction of the court and that they have the leave of the court to dispense with personal service and employ substituted means.

Justice Nyako however adjourned the case till December 15, 2017.
The Yobe exco of the PDP has consistently employed legitimate means to make its case. One can only hope that the new leadership of the party under Uche Secondus will do the needful by working with this exco to make sure that the crisis in the state does not degenerate further.

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In Yobe, those loyal to Makarfi went overboard and acted with impunity relying on their support base in Abuja.