Senator Ahmed Makarfi has lost his position as the chairman of the caretaker committee of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Friday nullified the PDP National Convention in Port Harcourt that established his committee and described the process that led to it as an abuse of the court process.
Two out of the three member-panel, Justice B.G. Sanga and Justice A.B. Gumel, in their judgment said the convention disobeyed the court order and the court would not close its eyes on such illegality.
They thus upheld the judgment of Justice Ibrahim Buba and set side the judgment of Justice Muhammed Liman of Port Harcourt Federal High Court.
Delivering the lead judgment, Sanga said the PDP convention of May 21, 2016 did not follow the provisions of Article 47(3) of its Constitution in the removal of the Senator Ali Modu Sherrif-led National Working Committee.
According to him, no vote of confidence was passed on Sheriff or the committee as provided by the said article and the National Working Committee was not put on notice.
He stated that Justice Liman held in error when he said the appellant committed abuse of court process by postponing the PDP convention.
On his part, Justice Gumel, who is also the Presiding Judge of the court, stated that the preliminary objection filed by the PDP was incompetent.
He held that Sheriff and his executive could not be removed until August 2017, except the party held an election.
Gumel described the originating summons in the suit at the Federal High Court as over-reaching and ordered the parties to maintain the status quo.
The judges said that the convention disobeyed a court order and that the court would not close its eye to such illegality.
They upheld the judgment of Justice Buba and set aside the judgment of Justice Liman, which upheld the convention and its outcome.
The court awarded N100,000 to Sheriff, to be borne by Makarfi, the PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Inspector-General of Police and the Department of State Services.
Meanwhile, the third member of the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt, Justice T.S. Orji-Abadua, upheld Justice Liman’s judgment, saying the Port Harcourt convention was legal.
According to Orji-Abadua, the PDP national convention was in line with the 2012 amended Constitution of the party and not an abuse of court process.
The judge held that Sheriff had no powers to cancel the party’s national convention.
She said that Sheriff was only appointed in an acting capacity, pending election.
Justice Orji-Abadua said: “Going by Article 33(3) of the PDP Constitution, Sheriff does not possess overriding powers over the PDP National Executive Council and therefore, had no right to unilaterally cancel the May 21, 2016, convention.”
She further said that Sheriff erroneously and unwittingly absented himself from the May 21 convention after being screened, which prompted the party to invoke Article 31(1) of its Constitution and set up a caretaker committee.
Orji-Abadua also held that Article 47 did not make it mandatory for the PDP to pass a vote of confidence before removing its officers and, therefore, upheld the outcome of the convention and the caretaker committee.
Orji-Abadua stated that Sheriff had no powers to cancel PDP national convention.
She awarded a cost of N100,000 against Sheriff.
Meanwhile, the lawyer to the PDP, Oladeji Laminkanra, told correspondents that his client will go to Supreme Court to appeal the judgement.
Sheriff said in his reaction: “I will engineer a restructuring of the PDP such that characters like Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State cannot find a way through to attain any position of prominence in our party in the future.
“They have brought shame and agony through the application of their crude and godless politics which is at variance with the principles upon which our founding fathers built our great party. We must find a way to sieve things so that only men of character and integrity can come through for positions of responsibility at all levels of our political engagement in the country.
“We must urgently steer the ship of PDP clear of the path of infamy which Wike and Fayose has brought our party, making Nigerians to mistaken PDP as a training ground for thugs. That is the urgent task we have. We cannot continue to advertise thug brand and expect Nigerians to take us seriously.”
Senator Makarfi, who was toppled by the ruling, accused the ruling All Progressives Congress of masterminding the judgment to impose a single party regime in the country.
He said: “Two out of the three-man Justices of the Appeal Court gave a scanty judgment in favour of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff while one for Makarfi.
“The judgment has finally shown that the ruling Party, the APC, is out to create a one party state in the country.
“The Party is proceeding immediately to the Supreme Court to file an appeal against the ruling of today’s appeal court judgment.”