The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Sunday, said that it was eagerly awaiting the July 4 judgement of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to enable it determine who to relate with among the two factions laying claim to the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Former interim Chairman of the PDP and ex-Governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, as well as Chairman, National Caretaker Committee of the PDP and former Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, have, for the past few weeks, been laying claims to the leadership of the party.
The various organs of the party like the National Working committee, Board of Trustees, PDP Governors Forum and its National Assembly caucus, among others, are in support of the Makarfi-led faction, while only two former NWC members of the party are on the side of Sheriff.
While reacting to the development, as to who the authentic national leadership of the party is, INEC made it clear that the said judgement would go a long way in helping it (INEC) to decide whom to deal with between the two claimants to the PDP national leadership.
This was disclosed by the INEC Deputy Director (Voter Education and Publicity) Mr. Nick Dazang, in Abuja.
Dazang equally said that the notice for the Wednesday’s gubernatorial primary in Edo State given to it by Senator Sheriff fell short of 21-day notice provided for by the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended).
He maintained that the July 4 judgement would give the Commission a clear idea on whom to relate with in the lingering leadership tussle in the PDP.
It would be recalled that the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, had on June 16, reserved ruling on the leadership dispute in PDP between Sheriff and the National Caretaker Committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
The national caretaker committee was put in place by the PDP at its national convention on May 21 in Port Harcourt.
Dazang, however, said that the Commission had not yet decided on whether to send monitors to the planned parallel governorship primary in Edo State by the Sheriff faction.
According to him, “INEC has monitored primaries of PDP and APC. If any party wants INEC to monitor its primary, by Electoral Act, that notice should be for 21 days.
“I understand one of the factional leaders wrote us to say he was going to hold a primary on Wednesday.
“The Electoral Act says you must serve INEC 21 days’ notice. I can’t see how conceivable it is for someone to serve us a notice within a week or two and we conduct a primary because the notice was supposed to be 21 days.
“What I am aware of is that INEC has monitored primaries of PDP and APC, and I am also not aware that we might monitor another PDP primary,” he stressed.
The Makarfi-led faction, it would be recalled, had, last Monday, conducted a gubernatorial primary in Edo State, during which Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu emerged as PDP candidate for the September 10 governorship election.
The governorship primary was monitored by INEC.
However, Sheriff claimed that the Commission did not send monitors to the primary.
He has subsequently scheduled his own governorship primary in Edo for this Wednesday and notified INEC accordingly.