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Supreme Court Judgment: Rebirth of PDP, Hope for Nigerians – By Simeon Nwakaudu 

When all the stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party  (PDP) unanimously  appointed  Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike as the Chairman of the PDP National Convention of May 21, 2016, they took that decision  to re-position  the party as a viable  opposition  that will serve the  interest  of Nigerians. 

The PDP Leaders  saw in Governor Wike , a democrat with the right credentials  to organise the National Convention. In line with his character, Governor Wike  set out with members of his  committee to stage one of the best National Conventions  ever held.

SHERIFF’S PARTICIPATION 

The sacked Former National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff participated in all the processes that  led to the May 21, 2016 National Convention. 

Indeed, Sheriff purchased  the form to contest  the office of the National Chairman.  He was in Port Harcourt  and he presented himself for screening. He was duly screened at the Rivers State PDP Secretariat.  Sheriff made  a u-turn few minutes to the National Convention, having read the handwriting  on the wall.

SUCCESSFUL NATIONAL CONVENTION THAT PRODUCED THE MAKARFI CARETAKER COMMITTEE 

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,  2016 National Convention in Port Harcourt  on Saturday  approved the setting up  of a caretaker  committee to run the affairs  of  the  party for three months and also organise  the  next national  convention. 

The Caretaker  Committee  of the PDP  has Former Kaduna State Governor,  Senator Ahmed Markarfi as Chairman with Senator Ben Obi as Secretary. 

The motion for the setting up of the Caretaker Committee  was moved by the Senate Minority Leader, Senator  Godswil  Akpabio  and Seconded by Gombe State Governor,  Ibrahim Dankwanbo.

The Chairman of the PDP National Convention Planning Committee, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike put the question to delegates  of the National

Convention which they unanimously  approved.

Earlier,  Former Deputy  Speaker of  the House of Representatives,  Hon Austin Opara moved a motion for the dissolution  of  the  National Working Committee and the removal of national  officers  of the party. The motion  was seconded by Rt Hon. Emeka Ihedioha,  former Speaker of the House of Representatives.  Governor Wike, Chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee,  put the question to the  National Convention,  which  was  duly approved.

Also at the 2016  National Convention,  the PDP approved the setting  aside of the zoning formula previously approved by  the  National Executive Committee . The National Convention  also approved the zoning  of the 2019 Presidential Candidate  of the PDP  to the  North.

Addressing  the  National Convention,  the Chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee  and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike said that the new PDP  Caretaker Committee will only organise the National Convention within 90 days.

The 2016 Port Harcourt  National Convention  was observed  by a team of  INEC  officials detailed by the commission’s headquarters. 

Governor Wike said  that  none of the members of  the  Caretaker Committee  will contest at the National Convention  that they will organise. 

In his acceptance  speech  after he was sworn in, Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Markarfi thanked the National Convention  for giving them the opportunity  to  serve and reposition  the  party. 

He said: “Non of us is seeking  for any party office.  We will  work towards rebuilding  the  party “.

The  2016 National Convention of the  PDP  witnessed  great speeches by party leaders.

Chairman of the PDP  Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jubril while endorsing the 2016 National  Convention  in Port Harcourt,  said  that the leaders would work  towards greater unity within the party. 

Former Deputy National  Chairman  of  the  party,  Prince Uche Secondus  while declaring  the  convention  open, regretted that the APC  has failed the people  of  the  country  through poor governance  which has translated to suffering  and poverty across  the  country. 

Former Senate President,  Senator David Mark  noted that as a result  of  the  degeneration  of the country,  Nigerians  will, “change  the  change ” in 2016.

The  National Convention  attracted delegates from the 36 states  of the Federation.  The 12 Governors of the PDP at the time,  National and State Assembly  members,  Former Governors,  Board of Trustees  members and Former National Working Committee members  attended the  event. 

VALIDATION OF THE NATIONAL CONVENTION BY THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT

A Federal High Court sitting  in  Port Harcourt  declared  that the  May 21, 2016 National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,  was duly constituted,  stating that the dissolution  of the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee by that convention  were valid.

In his judgment  on the suit filed by the PDP  against  Senator  Ali Modu Sheriff and others, Justice Abdullahi Liman  declared that the appointment  of  the  Caretaker  Committee  of the PDP  to oversee  its affairs  was legal and in line with  the  provisions of the PDP constitution. 

Justice Liman said that Article  31 (1) of the  PDP  constitution  vested the powers to convene a national  convention  on the National Executive Committee of the party. 

The court held that pursuant  to the constitution of the party, the former Acting National Chairman had no powers to unilaterally  postpone  the properly  constituted national convention  on a day all delegates  had converged  on Port Harcourt,  the host city.

He described  the action of Senator  Ali Modu Sheriff as most unconscionable ,  pointing  out  that  the  former  Acting National Chairman participated in all the processes leading to the National Convention,  only to make a u-turn at the final minute after he was screened and disqualified. 

The court ruled that after Sheriff  was disqualified following  his screening,  the only option  that was left to  Senator  Sheriff  was to have  gone to the venue of the National Convention to seek the opinion of delegates  whether they were prepared to go on with the convention or not.

According  to  Justice Liman, the absence of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff from the convention did not visible from the process as his powers were not usurped.

The court declared that under  Article 35 (b) of the PDP  constitution  , in the absence of the Chairman,  the Deputy Chairman  was empowered  to preside over the National Convention. 

It therefore ruled that the May 21st, 2016 PDP  National Convention  was properly  constituted  and the decisions  taken at the convention, valid.

The Federal High Court further ruled that in line with Article 33 (2) of the PDP  constitution,  the National Convention of the party is supreme and can exercise  the powers to dissolve the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee of the party. 

On the issue of the abuse of court process  claimed by the Former National Acting Chairman,  Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the court held that the  plaintiffs in the case in question  are not the same in the cases mentioned by the defendants, noting that the plaintiffs  suit only centred on the National Convention. 

The court noted that five days to the National Convention,  the Former Acting National Chairman,  Senator Ali Modu Sheriff had through  his counsel’s dissociated himself  from one of the suits they filed via proxies.

Justice  Liman  emphasised  that there was no suit challenging the conduct of the National Convention  in Port Harcourt  and that no injunction  sought to stop the convention. 

COURT OF APPEAL 

At the Court of Appeal, Ali Modu Sheriff and his crew were recognized.  Thereafter, they acted as spoilers all the way. He ran the party as a department of the  APC. Taking several actions that undermined the  PDP across  the  country.

SUPREME COURT VERDICT 

In a celebrated judgment on Wednesday, the Supreme Court  upheld the 21st May, 2016 PDP National Convention  that produced the National Caretaker Committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi. 

The Supreme Court panel led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour in the judgement confirmed Senator  Ahmed Makarfi as the authentic leader of the PDP. The Court berated Sheriff  for moving from one court  to another in search of favourable  judgment.

SETTING THE STAGE FOR THE REVIVAL OF THE PDP

As a result  of the Supreme Court  Judgment, the revival of the PDP  has started in earnest.  Genuine and  patriotic stakeholders  of the PDP can now  work in unison to rebuild the structures of the party.

The moles positioned by the failing ruling party  to distract  the PDP have been effectively  weeded out. 

All this  while, Sheriff stood alone. He employed a few hands to help him destroy the foundation  of the PDP. 

The National Convention appointed National Caretaker Committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi had on its the platform the PDP Board of Trustees, the PDP Governors Forum, the PDP National Assembly Caucus, PDP State Assemlies Caucus, PDP Elders, Former Ministers Forum  and PDP State  Chairmen.

The Supreme Court Judgment signals the rebirth of the PDP.  The Rule of law has prevailed and the PDP is on the route the rescue  Nigeria from poor governance. 

The PDP  remains the only hope for Nigeria.  The ruling  party has lost her direction as she has embraced propaganda, instead  fulfilling  her campaign  promises.

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