PDP crisis: Abuja court sacks Sheriff, others

THERE seems to be no end soon to the leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a high court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting at Apo, on Wednesday, sacked the factional chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and other officers of the party.

The trial judge, Justice Valantine Ashi, in a judgment he delivered yesterday, held that Sheriff’s ascension to office was unlawful as it was based on amended provision of the PDP Constitution said to be illegally introduced in December 2014.

Though the court did not specifically mention Sheriff’s name, it made an order restraining all persons who became national officers of the party by virtue of the amended Article 47, Rule 6 of the party’s constitution, from further parading themselves in the said capacities.

The judge nullified the amendment of the said provision which he held was done in violation of the mandatory provisions of Article 66 (2) and (3) of the party’s constitution.

He declared as, “unconstitutional, null and void”, the purported amendment of Article 47 Rule 6 of PDP Constitution, 2012, at a special National Convention the party held on Wednesday and Thursday, December 10 and 11, 2014.

The court voided the said amendment on the basis that there was no compliance with mandatory provisions of Article 66 (2) and (3) of the PDP constitution.

Justice Ashi said, “By reason of the above, the purported amendments introduced to the constitution on the aforesaid dates, are hereby set-aside.

“All persons, individuals, servants or agents of PDP parading themselves as national officers of the PDP pursuant to the purported amendment which has now been nullified are hereby restrained from further parading themselves in these capacities,” Justice Ashi held.

By the amendment of 2014, effected on Article 47 Paragraph 6 of the PDP Constitution, the party amended the provision which says in case of any vacancy, the party NEC can appoint an Acting Chairman from the area or zone where the last occupant of the offices comes from “pending when election is conducted” to reflect that where there is a vacancy, the Acting Chairman shall “serve the tenure of the officer”, who left before the expiration of the tenure.

Justice Ashi declared the 2014 amendment to the PDP constitution illegal on the ground that the party did not comply with Section 66(2)(3) of its constitution by not serving the National Secretary with a written copy of the proposed amendment two months before the convention, which the secretary was also required to circulate among state secretaries of the party a month before the convention.

Meanwhile, the National Caretaker Committee of the PDP has hailed the judgment.

Speaking with newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, the Secretary of the National Caretaker Committee of the party, Senator Ben Obi, was confident that there would be more positive court decisions in the days to come concerning the party crisis.

“We expect more positive court rulings in the days ahead in favour of our party. It is time for them to face the truth and retrace their steps,” he said.

Reacting to the judgment, Ali-Modu Sheriff stated in a statement issued by Inuwa Bwala, that “Ali-Modu Sheriff was not a party in the said suit, neither was his name mentioned anywhere in the ruling. It should also be taken note of that there was no consequential order in that ruling to warrant the attendant insinuations. It is worthy of note that the law does not take implied effects on people.

“It is pertinent to state that the court merely voided the processes leading to the amendment of the PDP constitution in 2014, while Sheriff’s emergence was covered by the provisions of the amendment of that same constitution of 2012.”