PDP crisis: Markafi-led faction asks judge to hands off case

There was a twist to the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Wednesday, when Senator Ahmed Makarfi and six other members of the party asked Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court, Abuja, to hands-off their case before the court.

Justice Abang, had, on August 15, 2016, issued an order of interlocutory injunction that barred the party from conducting its national convention planned to  take place  in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on August 17, 2016.

The order, which came barely 48 hours to the planned convention, equally stopped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from monitoring the exercise.

The judge said the party must not sponsor any candidate or conduct election into any of its national offices, pending the determination of a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/464/2016, which Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff  and seven others filed before the court.

When the matter came up on Wednesday, Markafi and six other members of the party, through their lawyer, Mr Emmanuel Ukala, challenged the jurisdiction of Justice Abang to further preside over the matter and consequently, asked him to hands off the suit and await the judgment of the Court of Appeal on three separate appeals that were entered against his previous decisions on the PDP leadership crisis.

Ukala, who notified the court that the appeals were filed on July 28, August 15 and 16, respectively, said there was  the need for Justice Abang to, “step aside” from the case.

“Once an appeal has been entered, the court below ought to stand aside and allow the Court of Appeal to have the opportunity to exercise its jurisdiction on the matter,”  he said.

On his part, counsel for the plaintiffs, Chief Niyi Akintola, who opposed the application, urged the court to ignore the appellants and go ahead with the substantive suit.

Akintola noted that there was nothing stopping the simultaneous hearing of the three appeals and the suit before the high court.

After listening to both sides, Justice Abang adjourned till September 29 to decide on whether or not to hands off from the suit on the legal tussle between  the  two factions of PDP, led by Senators Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff.