Following the ruling of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, which sacked Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, the National Caretaker Committee of the party, under the leadership of Senator Ahmed Makarfi, has taken over the PDP national secretariat in Abuja after the judgment.
The secretariat was until Wednesday morning occupied by Sheriff and his loyalists.
Members of the party trooped to the erstwhile deserted secretariat located at Wuse Zone 5, Abuja.
As soon as the Supreme Court made the pronouncements, drummers and praise singers took over the party secretariat, singing and dancing as politicians in their large number rushed to the secretariat.
Among the early birds at the office were Makarfi and members of his team; former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana; a former governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke; Plateau State ex-governor, Jonah Jang; a former aviation minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode; PDP Board of Trustees member, Prof. Ahmed Alkali; and a former Chairman, DAAR Communication, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, among others.
Members of staff of the parties, who had been receiving less than half salary for more than a year, also joined in the celebration. Earlier on Wednesday, the Supreme Court had removed Sheriff as the National Chairman of the PDP.
A five-man panel of the apex court, led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, in its unanimous judgment, reinstated the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee, which was earlier sacked by the majority verdict of the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal on February 17, 2017.
The same majority judgment of the appeal court had recognised Sheriff as the authentic National Chairman of the party after nullifying the national convention of the party, which had earlier removed the ex-governor of Borno State in Port Harcourt on May 21, 2016.
The Wednesday’s judgment of the Supreme Court has put to rest the legal battle for the control of the party, the fallout of the political crisis which has been rocking the party since it lost the 2015 presidential election.
Reading the lead judgment of the apex court on Wednesday, Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour formulated two issues for determination and both were resolved against Sheriff.
The judgment, which was based on the interpretation of the relevant provisions of the PDP’s constitution, also awarded the cost of N250, 000 against Sheriff.
Justice Rhodes-Vivour descended heavily on Sheriff, whom the apex court adjudged to be filing multiplicity of suits in his desperation to cling to office after being removed by the resolution of the national convention of the party held in Port Harcourt on May 21, 2016.
The apex court upheld the judgment of Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, delivered on July 4, 2016, and the subsequent dissenting decision of a member of the three-man panel of the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal, which both validated the removal of Sheriff as the National Chairman at the party’s national convention held on May 21, 2016.
Justice Rhodes-Vivour held that the majority judgment of the two of the members of the panel of the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal, delivered on February 17, 2017, was perverse.
The apex court held that the suit filed by the Makarfi faction before the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, was not an abuse of court process as wrongly held by the majority judgment which formed the decision of the Court of Appeal.
On the second issue, which it also resolved against Sheriff, the apex court held that the national convention of the PDP held on May 21, 2016, was rightly and constitutionally convened.
It held that going by the provisions of the PDP constitution, it was right for the PDP Deputy National Chairman to preside over the convention after Sheriff abandoned the convention and attempted to call it off.
It held that the convention acted rightly and not in breach of any aspect of the PDP’s constitution by setting up the Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee.