PDP Crisis: Confusion as court issues conflicting verdicts on Sheriff, Makarfi

The Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has asked the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal to vacate the order stopping it from going ahead with planned national convention of the party scheduled for Wednesday. Already, the group has applied for stay of execution of the interim order of injunction that Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja issued against them yesterday (Monday). Sen. Ahmed Makarfi Justice Abang had ordered the Markafi-led National Working Committee, NWC, of the PDP to suspend the convention which is billed to hold in Port Harcourt, pending the determination of an interlocutory motion the Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the party filed before the court. Meantime, at the resumed hearing of the suit on Tuesday, Markafi and six other members of the PDP NWC, informed Justice Abang that they have already taken the matter before the Court of Appeal. Markafi and the others who are 3rd to 9th defendants in the matter, told the court through their lawyer, Mr. Ferdinand Orbih, SAN, that their notice of appeal was dated August 15. Besides, they also filed an application challenging jurisdiction of Justice Abang to continue presiding over the matter. “Most especially my Lord, we are challenging the interim order of injunction restraining the holding of the 2nd defendant’s convention”, Orbih, SAN, added. Nevertheless, Justice Abang stressed that none of the applications have been transmitted to his court by the registry. Even though Sheriff’s lawyer, Chief Niyi Akintola, SAN, did not oppose Orbih’s plea for a stand down of the matter to enable him to fetch the processes from central registry of the court, Justice Abang, in a bench ruling, rejected the request. The judge said he was only bound by processes before him, noting however that ordinarily, issue bordering on jurisdiction of the court ought to be resolved first. “It is not the duty of the court to descend into the arena to assist any party”, Justice Abang held, saying he would not take any of the processes into consideration since they were not in his file. He said the 3rd to 9th defendants violently violated an order he made on July 28, by allowing Senator Obi to “slap the face of the court” when he secretly obtained an ex-parte order from another court despite the pendency of the suit. Specifically, Sheriff and eight others had approached the court, praying it to stop the proposed national convention of the party. Other plaintiffs behind the suit are Prof. Wale Oladapo (National Secretary); Dennis Alonge-Niyi (Deputy National Youth Leader); Alhaji Bashir Maidugu (Deputy National Legal Adviser); Mrs. Hanatu Ulam (Deputy National Women Leader); Alhaji Lawal Dutsima Anchi (Deputy National Auditor); Chief Okey Nnadozie (Deputy National Organising Secretary) and Chief Olisa Metuh (National Publicity Secretary). The plaintiffs are contending that allowing the Makarfi-led faction to proceed with the convention would affect the ‘Res’ of the substantive suit they filed on July 4, wherein they are contending that their tenure in office ought to expire in 2018. The plaintiffs said they filed the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/464/2016, for themselves and on behalf of the Executive Committee/National Working Committee of the PDP. Though only PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, were initially cited as defendants in the case, however, despite opposition from the Sheriff-led faction, Justice Abang, on Monday, joined Makarfi and six others as defendants in the suit. Aside Makarfi, those allowed into the matter as 4th to 9th defendants were Senator Ben Obi, Odion Ugbesia, Abdul Ningi, Kabiru Usman, Dayo Adeyeye and Aisha Aliyu. Justice Abang joined them shortly after he issued the interim order of injunction suspending the planned national convention of the party. Meanwhile, the court is yet to commence hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion for interim injunction against the convention. Remarkably, another division of the high court in Port Harcourt had on Monday, okayed the convention. The court presided over by Justice Ibrahim Watila not only directed INEC to monitor the convention, it also ordered relevant security agencies in the country to provide security to the delegates.

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