The last may not have been heard of the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as Senator Ali Modu Sheriff has asked Justice I. Liman of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt to discharge an ex-parte order restraining him from continuing in office as the party’s national chairman.
In a motion on notice, Sheriff insisted that he remains the party’s chairman, describing the National Caretaker Committee, headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfik as a group of “usurpers” and a “contraption” that was set up in defiance of valid court orders.
According to certified court processes made available to reporters in Lagos yesterday through his lawyer, Ajibola Oluyede, Sheriff is praying the court to hold that he is the only person that can preside over a convention or meeting where party leaders could be chosen.
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PDP sued Sheriff, Prof. Adewale Oladipo (who was PDP National Secretary), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Department of State Services (DSS) before Justice I. Liman.
The judge had also restrained Sheriff and Oladipo from parading themselves as the chairman, national secretary or members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP until the suit is determined.
But, Sheriff and Oladipo, in a motion on notice dated May 27, said those who sued them in PDP’s name lack “the authority and locus” to institute the suit on the party’s behalf.
According to them, Justice Liman made the order on May 24, which is 12 days after Justice Ibrahim Buba of the court’s Lagos Division had restrained the party from conducting elections into offices of national chairman, national secretary and national auditor.
Sheriff and Oladipo are praying the court to hold that by a community reading of Section 223 of the 1999 Constitution and Articles 33(1) (a) and 35(1) of the PDP Constitution, they are empowered to chair and preside over the party’s convention and all meetings through which available national offices can be filled.
They said: “The illegal contraption they call ‘caretaker committee’ was set up in violation of three different orders made by different judges of the court in suits numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/1443/2016, FHC/L/CS/613/2016 and FHC/L/CS/637/2016.
“The so-called caretaker committee or any other person acting under its authority is an aberration under the PDP Constitution and was constituted in breach of the mandatory provisions of Section 223 and 224 of the 1999 Constitution and has no capacity to institute this action in the name of the PDP,” said Sheriff and Oladipo.
They urged the court to dismiss the suit filed against them for being an abuse of court process.
“In our humble submission, in view of the fact that persons behind the institution of this action were appointed in defiance of valid orders of this honourable court, this action is tainted with illegality and it is trite that no cause of action can be founded on illegality,” they said.
According to them, PDP is a corporate entity and can only be “invoked” by the National Executive Committee (NEC), of which they (Sheriff and Oladipo) are principal officers.
According to Sheriff and Oladipo, the PDP NWC, which is still under their control, did not instruct anyone to file the action on the party’s behalf.