Sheriff appeals, says ‘I remain in office’ •No winner, no loser, Makarfi tells Sheriff

THE claimant to the office of the national chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff, on Monday, declared  that  he still remained the  authentic  national chairman of the party, despite the ruling of the court sitting in Port- Harcourt.

Sheriff, after a marathon meeting with his National Working Committee (NWC) on the latest court ruling on the leadership crisis rocking the party, told newsmen that he had already instructed  his lawyers to appeal against the judgment.

According to him, both the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt and that of Abuja that affirmed him PDP chairman last week, “are of coordinate jurisdiction.

“I also want you to know that the court that gave judgment in Abuja High Court last week and Federal High Court in Lagos, and today’s (Monday’s) judgment are all court of same coordinate jurisdiction.

“Therefore, the order we have in Abuja still subsists. What it means is that unless the Court of Appeal decides otherwise, I still remain the national chairman of PDP.

“Any court that is of the same jurisdiction cannot overrule another court except the Court of Appeal. We disagree completely with today’s judgment. We ask our lawyers to immediately file an appeal, and also ask the same court to stay execution on the judgment.

“There are three other judgments before his own, orders from federal high court of coordinate jurisdiction,” he said.

This came just as Counsel for the Sheriff’s faction of the party, Ajibola Oluyede, stated that the Appeal to the Court ruling was in progress and advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to take judicial notice of his client’s position on the matter so as not to run foul of the law.

According to him, “the judgment of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt Division further exacerbates the conflicting position between that Division on the one hand and  the Lagos and Abuja Divisions on the other.”

In  a statement he made available to newsmen in Abuja, on Monday, he said, “the Lagos Division by the hand of two different judges, Buba J. and Idris J. made preservative orders respectively on the 14th and 20th of May in respect of matters that challenged the notice of convention issued for election of replacement for incumbents of the NEC and NWC of the PDP whose tenure had not expired.

“The PH Division made orders ex parte on the 23rd of May validating a meeting held in Port Harcourt by some  PDP  members as a valid national convention held pursuant to that notice, challenged in Lagos and validating a “caretaker committee” installed at the meeting to replace the officers of the PDP NEC and NWC who were  fighting for the continuation of their tenure at the Lagos Division.

“That ex parte order lapsed on the 9th of June.

“The Abuja Division on the 30th of June made interlocutory orders directing that only the Ali Modu Sheriff-led NEC/NWC could represent the PDP or conduct its affairs, including primaries (This confirmed the previous orders of the Lagos Division. This is a specific order concerning PDP primaries for Edo and Ondo states.

“Today the Port Harcourt Division has restored its lapsed orders in a judgment again validating the Port Harcourt meeting as a “national convention” of the PDP, legitimising the  “caretaker committee” and the removal and replacement  of the NEC and NWC of the PDP in what my clients describe as a coup detat.

“Clearly, there is need for more to be done to determine which of the conflicting orders should be obeyed.

“My clients have, therefore, instructed that the Port Harcourt judgment be appealed and INEC and PDP restrained from obeying it until the appeal is heard. The processes are currently being completed for filing today.

“We advise INEC to note the above and take legal advice so that it may not find itself in contempt of the valid and subsisting orders of the Abuja Division which are direct and specific concerning the primaries of the PDP in Ondo and Edo states.’’

Meanwhile, following the High Court judgment which conferred legitimacy on his leadership of the PDP, the chairman of the national caretaker committee of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, observed that there was neither a winner nor loser in the crisis that had apparently now been resolved by the court.

In his reaction to the judgment in Abuja, on Monday, Makarfi appealed to Sheriff to join hands with him to rebuild the PDP.

He averred that even though the court had ruled against the former party boss, Sheriff remained a respected member of the party whose contribution along with his supporters was needed to move the party forward.

However, Makarfi noted with sadness that the leadership crisis  in the former ruling party had to be resolved through a court judgment.

The party boss stated: “I am, indeed, happy with the judgment on the one hand, but also sad that it had to come to this.

“For me, there should be no winner or loser on this matter.

“I am still calling on Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and his followers to join us so that we can accommodate one another and, indeed, all other groups in a just, fair and equitable matter with a view to moving the party forward.”