Olusola Fabiyi Ade Adesomoju and Chukwudi Akasike
The Peoples Democratic Party on Wednesday failed to conduct the election of it national officers.
Instead, the party extended the tenure of the Senator Ahmed Markarfi-led caretaker committee by one year.
It also moved its national convention venue to the Rivers State secretariat of the party after the police sealed off the Sharks Stadium, Port Harcourt, which was initially billed to host the event.
The national convention suffered a major setback when hundreds of security operatives, mainly policemen, sealed off the Sharks Stadium as early as 6am.
Security operatives blocked the major entrance to the stadium located on Hospital Road with an Armoured Personnel Carrier.
The development caused a gridlock on some major roads in Port Harcourt.
Information later came out that the convention would be held in the PDP state secretariat.
The state PDP secretariat located along the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway was a beehive of activities as delegates later streamed into the secretariat.
Though the party’s national convention was not elective as planned, some decisions were taken.
At the makeshift venue, the PDP extended the tenure of the Senator Ahmed Markarfi-led caretaker committee by one year.
The extension of the tenure of the Makarfi-led PDP Caretaker Committee also came on the heels of the suspension of the election of the national officers of the party.
The motion for the extension of Makarfi’s caretaker committee’s tenure was moved by the Deputy Senate President, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu.
A member of the party and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Leo Ogor, had earlier moved a motion for the suspension of the election of national officers of the party.
The motion was seconded by Yunusa Suleiman, who is the chairman of the 36 states chairmen of the PDP.
The PDP noted that the extension of the Makarfi-led caretaker committee would pave the way for the party to exhaust all cases pending in court.
Delegates also agreed that the chairman of the committee would not vie for any elective position in the party at the expiration of the one-year extension.
Makarfi, in his speech, pledged to sustain the rebuilding of the PDP, reuniting its members and restoring the lost glory of the party.
Makarfi inaugurates PDP NEC
Makarfi had earlier inaugurated the PDP National Executive Committee.
Performing the inauguration at the Government House, Port Harcourt, on Wednesday, Makarfi said the NEC members were the board, the PDP governors, the National Assembly caucus, Board of Trustees, the national caucus, 36 state PDP chairmen and the national officers of the party.
He explained that in the absence of the elected national officers, the PDP National Caretaker Committee members would be part of NEC.
Makarfi added that the PDP National Caretaker Committee members would cease to be NEC members once the national officers were elected.
I did not shut venue –Rivers CP
The Rivers State Police Commissioner, Mr. Francis Odesanya, said he did not seal off the PDP convention venue, but only provided security.
Odesanya added that he was complying with a court order, even as he said that he was not in a position to interpret court judgments.
Two divisions of the Federal High Courts in Abuja and Port Harcourt had given conflicting verdicts on the PDP convention.
While the court in Port Harcourt had ruled that the convention should hold, the Abuja division of the Federal High Court ordered that the exercise should not hold and ordered the police to enforce the court order, while also ordering the Independent National Electoral Commission to stay away.
But the state CP said his men were at the stadium to provide security for the delegates.
“I did not seal off the convention venue. I was only providing security. I was obeying a court order. It is not my duty to interpret court orders,” Odesanya said.
However, as of 11.35am, most PDP delegates were nowhere around the venue of the convention.
Some traders, who had come to the venue of the convention, were disappointed that the exercise could not hold.
One of the traders, who identified himself as Chidi, said he was unable to sell his PDP-branded hats as a result of the police action.
Chidi explained that he was planning to make about N200,000 profit from the sale of the hats.
“I had planned to make about N200,000 from the sale of the PDP hats, but as you can see, nothing has been sold,” Chidi lamented.
Chidi was later seen at the Rivers State PDP secretariat where some delegates bought some of his wares.
I was under house arrest –Fayose
The Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, said on Wednesday that he was placed under house arrest by security operatives at the old President Lodge of the Government House in Rivers State.
He explained that the development stopped him from attending the national convention of the party.
Fayose, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Social Media, Mr. Lere Olayinka, expressed sadness over the development.
The governor, who was conspicuously absent at the convention that eventually held at the Rivers State PDP secretariat, said an Armoured Personnel Carrier was used to block the lodge where he was a guest.
Odesanya, however, said such an issue had not come to his knowledge.
Odesanya said, “That can’t be true; it is not to my knowledge. How did other excellencies (governors) move out of the place?”
2019 election, battle to save Nigeria –PDP
The PDP said on Wednesday that the general election in 2019 would be a battle to save Nigeria.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Dayo Adeyeye, urged Nigerians not to see the 2019 election as a PDP problem, but a Nigerian problem.
Adeyeye, who is a member of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led PDP Caretaker Committee, spoke during a post-national convention press briefing in Port Harcourt.
He added that the 2019 poll would be an encounter between Nigerians and those making life difficult for them.
“The 2019 (election) is a battle between those in power and those that want to wrest it from them. It is a battle between Nigerians and those who are making life difficult for them; it is a battle to save the country.”
Adeyeye stated that Nigerians were aware of those behind the crisis rocking the PDP, pointing out that those seen on the stage were mere puppets.
“Some members allowed themselves to be used by some people that are in authority.
“Some of the people you see are mere puppets, but those pulling the strings are behind. Nigerians know those who are causing the crisis in the PDP,” he added.
Adeyeye said the idea to move the convention to another venue so that delegates could elect their national officers was turned down to avoid another disruption by security agencies.
We’ll file contempt charge –Sheriff
The factional National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, said he would file a contempt charge against Makarfi.
He said Makarfi and other members of the national caretaker committee of the party violated the order of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which ordered that the Port Harcourt convention must not hold.
Sheriff, who spoke through the spokesperson of his faction, Mr. Bernard Mikko, said the process of filing Form 48, which is on contempt, would be carried out by his faction.
He said, “We will hold him accountable to his action.
“That action is in violation of the order of Justice Abang and we will file contempt charge against him and his co-travellers.
“We will leave the court to determine the appropriate punishment he deserves. We will make sure that laws are obeyed and that the constitution of our party is respected.”
Earlier, Sheriff, who spoke through his spokesperson, Mallam Inuwa Bwala, described the decisions reached at the convention as illegal, null and void.
He said the meeting breached Section 31, sub-section 4 of the PDP constitution.
The section provides that, “The NEC shall meet at least once in every quarter at the instance of the national party chairman or at the request of two-thirds of its membership, who shall notify the chairman at least seven days prior to the meeting; and an emergency meeting be summoned by the national chairman having regard to all the circumstances of the agenda.”
Sheriff asked the members of the former ruling party to ignore the resolutions.
He said, “Even in an emergency situation, one week notice must be given to the national chairman, who has the sole responsibility to convene the NEC.
“It is sad that in the face of obvious disregard to court orders, which halted the convention, some individuals went to perpetrate impunity by taking steps to install another contraption on the PDP.”
Sheriff stated that the rule of law and constitutionality must prevail in all circumstances, adding that the decisions reached at the Port Harcourt convention and NEC meeting were not “binding and cannot stand in law.”
He also described as illegal the extension of the tenure of the Makarfi-led caretaker committee.
Court stops Sheriff as PDP chairman
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Kubwa, Abuja, on Wednesday, affirmed a June 29 judgment of the Apo division of the court by restraining Sheriff from further parading himself as the National Chairman of the PDP.
This came barely 24 hours after a Federal High Court in Abuja stopped the party from going ahead with its national convention in Rivers State.
The Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court, also on Tuesday, had, however, made a conflicting order, directing the Ahmed Makarfi-led faction to go on with the convention.
Justice Nwamaka Ogbonnaya of the FCT High Court in a judgment on Wednesday stopped Sheriff from acting on behalf of the party.
She held, among others, that by virtue of the June 29, 2016, judgment delivered by his colleague in the Apo Division of the court, Justice Valentine Ashi, the appointment of Sheriff and other members of his national working committee remained null and void.
Justice Ashi had, in the said judgment, in a suit filed by Joseph Jero, voided the amendment to Article 47(6) of the PDP constitution, on which basis Sheriff and his NWC members emerged at the convention held on December 10 and 11, 2015.
The judge had ruled that the amendment to Article 47(6) of the constitution of the party was done in violation of mandatory provisions of Article 66 (2) and (3) of the same constitution.
He restrained all persons who became national officers of the party by the virtue of the amended Article 47, Rule 6, of the party’s constitution from parading themselves in the capacities of the national officers of the party.
Justice Ogbonnaya, in affirming Justice Ashi’s judgment on Wednesday, held that there was no evidence before her showing that the said June 29 verdict had been appealed.
She said the judgment by Justice Ashi remained valid until it was set aside by an appellate court.
Justice Ogbonnaya’s judgment was in a suit filed on August 9, 2016, by Danladi Ayuba, who claimed to be a PDP member and an aspirant to a post in the party at its convention in Port Harcourt.
She made an order “setting aside and or nullifying the act or conduct of the defendant (Sheriff) as the national chairman of the PDP or anything done by him in the name or on behalf of the party for being unlawful, null, and void and of no effect whatsoever.”
She further granted an order setting aside all acts by Sheriff since the judgment of June 29 by Justice Ashi, declaring the acts as unlawful, illegal, null and void.
Justice Ogbonnaya declared among others, that by the virtue of the June 29 judgment nullifying the amendment to the PDP’s constitution (on which basis Sheriff became the party’s national chairman), he “cannot lawfully continue to parade himself as the national chairman, act or do anything in the name and on behalf of the PDP.”
Courtesy: The PUNCH.