Confusion as Abuja court gives PDP leadership to Ali-Modu Sheriff

Symbol-of-justice (1) (1)By Udoka Obidike

Confusion appears to have taken the centrestage in the on-going battle between two factional leaders, Alhaji Ali-Modu Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi, for the soul of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

This is because a Federal high court sitting in Abuja on Thursday gave its legal imprimatur to Ali-Modu Sherrif-led executive committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

That was after it declared the former Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff as the authentic chairman of the PDP.

The ruling contradicted the holding of another Federal high court in PortHacourt which gave its judicial endorsement to Makarfi-led leadership.

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More importantly, the Thursday ruling came less than 24 hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared that it would work with Alhaji Makarfi-led leadership for the purposes of conducting election in some states of the federation based on the judgment of the Federal high court in Port-Harcourt.

But Justice Okon Abang, in his ruling, Thursday, held that only actions and decisions made by the Sheriff-led leadership would be lawful and binding.

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He, however, said that although he had the powers to nullify the ruling of the Port Harcourt division of the Federal High Court, which recognized the Makarfi-led leadership, he would not do so because there was no application to that effect before him.

He said he would expect the Court of Appeal to do justice to that.

Nevertheless, Justice Abang said  that the convention held in Port-Harcourt on May 20 which produced Makarfi’s leadership, was held in violation of the two court orders of the Lagos division of the Federal High Court which barred the PDP and INEC from holding the convention.

Justice Okon Abang consequently barred the Makarfi-led caretaker committee from exercising any authority or taking any decision on behalf of the PDP henceforth on account of being an illegal body.

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According to Justice Abang, the Makarfi-led group missed its way to Port Harcourt to obtain a judgment from a division of the Federal High Court which happened to be a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction to that of Lagos to obtain a favorable judgement.

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He also said that the judgment which recognized the Makarfi-led caretaker committee was unlawful, illegal and had no foundation in law to stand.

He held that until the orders made by the Lagos division of the Federal High Court which restrained PDP from holding a convention at the time it did was set aside, anything done in contravention of the two subsisting orders are unlawful, illegal and should not be recognized.

After the verdict was handed down on Thursday, both factions were claiming to be in lawful control of the leadership of the party.

Until the Court of Appeal pronounces on who actually is the authentic leader of the political party, it is dicey to recognise either as both courts that gave the verdicts are of co-ordinate jurisdiction.

It will be recalled that the Ahmed Makarfi-led PDP had approached an FCT High Court challenging the power of Justice Okon Abang to hear the suit filed by Senator Sheriff.

They specifically asked the court to restrain Justice Abang on the grounds that there is a circular from the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court restraining all judges handling PDP leadership tussle cases to stop further action pending the outcome of the appeals before the appellate court.

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But the prayers were not granted by Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, who held that the application lacked merit, as the applicant who was listed as PDP was not a natural person as such not entitled to any fundamental human rights.

That was after Mr Ali Modu Sheriff and eight others approached the Federal High Court, Abuja for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the party from conducting the national convention slated for August 17.

He also wanted an order restraining the PDP from presenting anybody or sponsoring any person for election into its offices pending determination of the suit.

He asked for an ancillary order directing the Nigerian Police to enforce the orders of the court until all applications are dis