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PDP crisis: Court sacks Sheriff

The crisis rocking the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), took another dimension Wednesday as Justice Valentine Ashi of the High court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Apo sacked Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, PDP factional National Chairman from office.

Delivering judgment, Justice Ashi, in the suit filed by a chieftain of the Party  in Ondo State, Chief Joseph Jero restrained individuals “currently parading themselves as the national officers of the PDP on the basis of the purported amendment to the PDP constitution that came into effect at a special convention held in Abuja on December 10 and 11, 2014.

By the amendment of 2014, effected on 47 Paragraph 6 of the PDP Constitution, the party amended the provision which says in case of any vacancy, the party NEC can appoint an Acting Chairman from the area or Zone where the last occupant of the offices comes from “pending when election is conducted” 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 declared the 2014 amendment to the PDP constitution illegal on the ground that the party did not comply with Section 66(2)(3) of its constitution by not serving the National Secretary with a written copy of the proposed amendment two months before the convention, which the Secretary was also required to circulate among state Secretaries of the party a month before the convention.

The judge stressed the need for the party to strictly adhere to the provisions of its constitution. He noted that the insertion of the clauses in section 66(2) and(3) was to deepen democracy in the party and that they constituted conditions precedent that must be first fulfilled.

The plaintiff had argued that this provisions offends the true position of PDP Constitution 2012.

According to him, the true position is that “section 47 sub-section 6 of PDP Constitution, 2012, provides that where a vacancy occurred, the appropriate executive committee  of the party will appoint any person from the zone or  area of the officer that left the office to fill the vacancy to serve out the tenure of the officer.

Sheriff was appointed by the National Executive Committee of the PDP to complete the tenure of Adamu Muazu which elapse din 2018.

However, the plaintiff approached the court challenging the 2014 amendment on the ground that the section upon which Sheriff came to power did not follow due process as stipulated in the party’s constitution.

PDP constitution procedures for amendment provides that two month notice be given to the secretary of the party’s NEC who will communicate in writhing  to all the  branches of  the party on the proposed amendment before it could be done.

The court said that there was no compliance with mandatory provisions of Article 66 (2) and (3) of the PDP constitution and held that the amendment offends section 222 of the 1999 constitution which stipulates that national  officers of the parties must be democratically elected and not appointed

“By reason of the above, the purported amendments introduced to the constitution on the aforesaid dates, are hereby set-aside. “All persons, individuals, servants or agents of PDP parading themselves as national officers of the PDP pursuant to the purported amendment which has now been nullified are hereby restrained from further parading themselves in these capacities “, Justice Ashi held.

The court agreed with the submissions of Jero’s counsel Uche Mnadi‎ and held that Sheriff’s ascension to office was unlawful as it was based on amended provision of the PDP ‎Constitution..

‎Justice Ashi dismissed argument by lawyers to the PDP, including Okere Kingdom to the effect that the appointment of the party’s chairman was an internal affair of the party which the court should not dabble into.

The judge held that although the issue was an internal affair of the party, the court had jurisdiction to determine whether the party complied with its own constitution and regulations.

Former National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Professor Adewale Oladipo has described the judgment of the Abuja High Court that purportedly sacked the former National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as a misrepresentation of fact.

Oladipo, one of the core loyalists of Sheriff, said this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to him, the court only heard and delivered judgment on a matter concerning certain amendments in the PDP constitution, which has nothing to do with the election of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the National Chairman or even that of his predecessor, Alhaji Adamu Muazu.

The statement reads in part: “This is completely false and a clear misrepresentation of the ruling of the court as it never gave any ruling ousting the National Chairman”.

According to Oladipo,‎ Sheriff was elected as National Chairman of PDP and has not been removed by any court.

“We therefore, urge those misleading the media and the unsuspecting public to desist from such. The media is also urged to always cross-check their facts before going to press,” he advised.

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