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Leadership crisis: Rivers court decides PDP’s fate today

Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, will today give judgement in the Peoples Democratic Party’s protracted leadership tussle between Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led national caretaker committee of the party and the embattled former National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
It will be recalled that the leadership crisis in the opposition PDP became worsened in May, this year, with two conflicting court orders-one from Port Harcourt and the other from Lagos-restraining Makarfi and Sheriff respectively from parading themselves as national chairman of the party.
However, the two suits were on June 7 consolidated and Justice Liman will decide on where the pendulum swings today.
The court will, in specific term, determine whether the May 21 National Convention in Port Harcourt that appointed the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee was in violation of May 12 court by Justice Ibrahim Buba of Lagos Federal High Court, which stopped PDP from conducting elections into the offices of the National Chairman, National Secretary and National Auditor.
The court, also, will determine whether Senator Sheriff and other former National Working Committee (NWC) members of the PDP were validly removed from office by the national convention, having completed their four-year term.
The two claimants to the PDP leadership, last week, secured victories at three different high courts in Abuja but none, however, was a declarative judgement.
On Tuesday, Justice Valentine Ashi of Court 29, Abuja High Court, nullified the amendments to the PDP Constitution used to ratify Dr. Adamu Mu’Azu in the December 2014 Special National Convention on the basis of which Sheriff was appointed National Chairman by the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC).
Even though, he did not mention Sheriff, Justice Ashi restrained individuals “currently parading themselves as the national officers of the PDP on the basis of the purported amendment to the PDP constitution effected at a special convention on December 10, 11, 2014”.
The opposition PDP amended Section 47 paragraph 6 of its constitution to reflect that where there is a vacancy, the acting chairman shall “serve the tenure of the officer”, who left before the expiration of the tenure.
Justice Ashi, however, declared the amendment illegal because, according to him, the party did not comply with Section 66(2) (3) of its constitution by failure to serve the national secretary with a written copy of the proposed amendment two months before the convention, which he was also required to circulate among the state party secretaries a month before the convention.
The suit was filed by Joseph Jero, a PDP member from Irele Local Government Area of Ondo State, against PDP.
In the second judgement delivered on Thursday, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of FCT High Court, struck out a suit filed by Sheriff seeking to recognise him as the authentic chairman of PDP.
The former National Chairman had included 17 other former NWC members in the suit. But the judge held that he did not seek the consent of some of the plaintiffs before joining them in the suit.
But Sheriff appeared to have scored a victory in another court that same Thursday when Justice Okon Abang of Federal High Court, Abuja, reaffirmed him as PDP National Chairman, and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept his nominees for Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
It is expected that today’s judgement in Port Harcourt would resolve the intractable leadership crisis.

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