Excitement In PDP Leaders' Camp As Apex Court Silences Sheriff For Life; Jonathan Calls On Defectors To Return

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SHERIFF, CAMP, JONATHAN

The court, in a unanimous judgment, set aside the judgment of the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal, which in a spilt decision ‎gave victory to the Sheriff-led leadership of the party. The Supreme Court’s decision finally resolved the multiplicity of cases filed by aggrieved party members in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt in their bid to take control of a party that lost power to the APC two years ago. Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour held that the appeal by the Makarfi group was meritorious and allowed. Two other justices of the court, including the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen who presided, agreed with him and also awarded a cost of N250,000 against the respondents. The court held that the national convention of the party that was held on May 21, 2016 in Port Harcourt was validly convened and was in line with the PDP constitution. The court further held that the dissolution of the National Executive Committee (NEC) by the convention was in order since the national deputy chairman had presided, adding that the convention acted within the constitution of the party. The court chided Sheriff for demonstrating what Justice Rhodes-Vivour described as “infantile desperation to lead the party”. He said Sheriff was not within the category of an “unimpeachable leader” and that the party’s constitution did not make it mandatory to pass a vote of no confidence on Sheriff before removing him. According to Justice Rhodes-Vivour, there was no clause in the constitution of the party that made it mandatory for Sheriff to be removed using a vote of no confidence. While condemning the multiplicity of applications filed by Sheriff, Justice Rhodes-Vivour said: “He demonstrated an infantile desperation to lead the PDP by filing almost 10 different applications in various courts. They shall forever gather dust in the judicial archives.” He further held that by virtue of the constitution of the PDP, members of the party must respect the proceedings of the party’s national convention. “The subject matter at issue is Articles 33; 35 and 47. There shall be a national convention. All members of the party shall be bound by the decisions of leaders from the national convention. Article 33 states the supremacy of the national convention.” He also held that the PDP constitution allows the deputy national leader of the party to stand in for his principal, adding that “when Sheriff abandoned the national convention in May 2016, the party asked his deputy to stand in for him, making his attendance noted at the convention”. The Supreme Court added that although the PDP constitution allows the party to remove the national leader after two years through a vote of no confidence, the word used to denote vote of no confidence was “may”, which Justice Rhodes-Vivour interpreted, did not signify compulsory adherence. He said: “‘May’ is not the same thing as ‘shall’,” therefore “a national officer could be removed without a vote of no confidence.” While recognising the enormous powers of the party’s national convention, Justice Rhodes-Vivour said the lower courts were wrong in declaring the conduct of the national convention illegal. The judgment was received with wild jubilation by the PDP supporters of the Makarfi group who were present in the court. In court were the governors of Ekiti and Rivers States, Ayodele Fayose and Nyesom Wike, a former Vice-Chairman of the PDP (South-west), Chief Bode George, the present occupant of the position in the faction, Chief Eddy Olafeso, and former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido. Also in court were a former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh; former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran; a former governor of Kano State and former Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau; Senator Ben Obi, founder of African Independent Television, Chief Raymond Dokpesi; Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Dayo Adeyeye; former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha; and a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi. As if he knew that the judgment would go against him, Sherrif was not in court. The Deputy National Chairman of his faction, Cairo Ojougboh, was the only bigwig on Sheriff’s side sighted in court. Jonathan, Makarfi React Reacting to the ruling in its favour, the caretaker committee immediately declared that there was no victor, no vanquished, but a collective victory for the party, with Makarfi stating that efforts would be made to enthrone a true and genuine reconciliation process that would be based on fairness, justice and legality. Ojougboh, however, said that he had no comment to make yet until his side of the party meets to review the ruling. Speaking to a crowd of supporters who gathered at the Wadata Plaza National Secretariat of the PDP Wednesday, Makarfi said the reconciliation process would not translate to denying people positions that are legally theirs. He said: “I am happy that the Supreme Court has brought this protracted leadership tussle to an end today. There is no victor and there is no vanquished, but a collective victory for our party and the nation’s democracy. “No democracy can prosper in the absence of a virile opposition or under the extreme hardship Nigerians have faced over the past two years. Citizens deserve a viable alternative.” Makarfi, who led a team of party leaders including Professor Jerry Gana, Fayose, Lamido, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and many others from the Supreme Court premises straight to the Wadata Plaza, added: “This victory is not just for PDP, it’s for democracy. This affirms the powers of political parties. This affirms the powers of conventions of all political parties. “We are open to reconciliation. But for us, reconciliation does not mean we will take what belongs to Mr. A and give it to Mr. B. We will do the reconciliation based on equity and justice. You cannot get what you did not earn. “The battle we fought was not a battle for PDP alone. It was a battle for democracy, it was a battle for the supremacy of party men and women to decide their destiny. “And it was a battle to do away with dictatorship in political parties and this will never repeat itself.” Makarfi also said that there will be a series of consultations in the space of three days, after which a larger meeting will be held to fix dates for the Caucus and Board of Trustees (BOT) meetings. Also commenting on the Supreme Court judgment, former President Goodluck Jonathan echoed the position of the Makarfi-led committee, saying there was no victor, no vanquished after the ruling. In a Facebook post, the former president said: “I thank God for this day of justice and may God bless Nigeria. “Today’s verdict is a judgment where there are no winners or losers. It is a verdict that will bring our party together. We should all thank the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. “I believe in our jurists. We may have issues with some individuals but the Nigerian judiciary deserves our respect and commendation. They have served this country well. “I congratulate my political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, on the successful resolution of its leadership crisis by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.” While urging truce and forgiveness for those that may have taken disagreeable positions, Jonathan noted that the PDP, which gave Nigeria the largest economy in Africa, is a party whose heart is large enough to find a place for all Nigerians. “The PDP is an inclusive vehicle, not an exclusive one. We see Nigerians as human beings deserving of the rule of law, separation of powers and a free market economy that provides a level playing field for all. “As a senior member of the party, I hereby call on all those who left the party because of its leadership issues to return to their natural home and build the PDP. “Thus, they must take inspiration from General Yakubu Gowon and declare a no victor and no vanquished. “As I congratulate the Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee, I want to strongly urge them not to see this as a victory of a section of the party, but as a moral victory of constitutionality over arbitrariness,” he added To Receive Free News Updates, Add To Your WhatsApp: 08033857245; For Adverts Enquiries, Call 08083609209, To Publish Your Articles Or News Stories, Email editor@skytrendnews.com. READ ALSO! 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