A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Apo has sacked Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff as Acting Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The National Caretaker Committee of the party immediately expressed satisfaction with the ruling.
The committee, however, advised him to retrace his steps and join hands with it to move the party forward
The court described the process through which Sheriff emerged as chairman as illegal.
In another development, there was drama in Edo State PDP as Mr. Matthew Iduoriyekenmwen yesterday emerged as factional candidate for the September 10 governorship election.
Another aspirant, Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma, who was billed to contest in the primary, stepped down for Iduorikenmwen.
In his ruling, Justice Valentine Ashi, nullified the 2014 PDP Constitution Amendment upon which Sheriff was appointed chairman, describing it as illegal and a violation of the Electoral Act.
The court, therefore, declared all actions carried out as a result of the amended Article 47, Rule 6 of the party’s constitution as illegal, restraining all who became national officers of the PDP by virtue of the said amendment from further parading themselves as such.
Ashi ruled that the nullification of the said amended PDP constitution was done because it was in violation of mandatory provisions of Article 66 (2) and (3) of the party’s constitution.
However, Sheriff is set to file a stay of execution and appeal against the judgment.
Secretary of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee, Senator Ben Obi, said: “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.” Obi enjoined Sheriff and his supporters to drop their hardline posture and cooperate with the caretaker committee to move the party forward.
“We believe that truth must be upheld; we want all hands to be on deck to chart the way forward,” he added.
A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt will also on Monday, July 4 rule on the leadership crisis in PDP.
Speaking, the Sheriff faction’s deputy national chairman South, Dr Cairo Ojuogboh, described the judgment as a mere academic exercise, stressing: “The judgment has nothing to with Ali-Modu Sheriff’s position as party chairman, because he was not in the PDP when the matter was instituted.
We understand the desperation of those behind the judgment but it has no effect on the current situation. If they claim so, it means that all the PDP governors, senators and all those elected on the party platform in 2015 will vacate their seats immediately.
‘‘For the opposition to grow what is happening in the PDP now is good for the party because it will reposition it.
‘‘The people I pity are the PDP governors who caused the problem, but have failed to provide a solution to it. The earlier they set aside their egos and settle the crisis the better for them because very soon they will come for a return ticket for second term.”
Ojuogboh also denied insinuations that Sheriff was interested in becoming the presidential candidate of the PDP in 2019 saying: “I have asked him, and he said he does not want to contest but to lead the party back to power.”
Significantly, at the factional PDP primary which held at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, no official of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was present, though Ebenezer Alabi, caretaker chairman of the Sheriff faction was there.
He said yesterday’s exercise remained the authentic primary election of the party and that its members and the voting public should dis-regard any other candidate parading himself as the candidate of the PDP.
The PDP had last Monday held a similar election in the same venue where Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu emerged as winner of the primary election. Iduoriyekemwen also participated in that exercise.
There was initial confusion as to whether the election would hold as armed security men blocked the entrance to the gate of the stadium.
But Ebenezer said: “The delay was due to communication gap between the party and security agencies.”
The chairman of the election panel, Ahmed Gulak, said 677 delegates were accredited to vote in the election to ensure that due process was followed despite Agbonayinma’s stepping down.
Iduoriyekenmwne at the end of the exercise, told the delegates that if he became the governor, his administration would make Edo a state of excellence again.