According to reports, the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has announced what it called “general amnesty” for its members who it said participated in the crisis that engulfed the party in the last 14 months.
It said while it would overlook the sins committed by those set of people, it nevertheless warned that anyone who participates in fresh plot against the former ruling party would not be forgiven.
The Chairman of National Caretaker Committee of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, stated this in an interview with reporters in Abuja on Thursday.
The former governor of Kaduna State was reacting to a question on whether the party would sanction the sacked National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, and those in his camp who took the party to court over the outcome of its May 21, 2016 national convention.
Apart from Sheriff, some of those in his camp were the party’s former National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo; Sheriff’s deputy, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, and the acting National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Bernard Mikko.
Makarfi, who described the last 14 months as very worrisome for the party, however, said there was no need punishing those who made the party to experience the setback.
Speaking through the spokesperson for the caretaker committee, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye, Makarfi called on those with pending cases against the party at state levels, to withdraw them.
Adeyeye, a former Minister of State for Works, said the PDP would provide a credible alternative to the ruling All Progressives Congress ahead of the 2019 general elections.
He stated, “No, we won’t punish anyone for what had happened in the past. Our doors are open for everyone, including those who are not members of the PDP.
“It is general amnesty for all. It is when you begin to commit fresh sins or causing fresh troubles that we will then look at it.
“We want to appeal to everybody, those who have cases in courts, to withdraw them in the interest of the party. You can see that everybody is happy because of the outcome of the case.”
Adeyeye alleged that the APC had failed the people, saying Nigerians were looking for a party that would offer solutions to current challenges.
He stated, “APC is a monumental disaster. People are looking for alternative and now the Supreme Court has restored their hope. We will provide the alternative platform.
“As we can see now, 2019 election will be a walkover in our favour. APC will begin to see virile opposition henceforth.”
In his reaction, Sheriff said he was not sure that Makarfi could be calling for amnesty for him and his group, adding that until he was sure that the former governor made the call, he would not respond.
Sheriff, who spoke through Ojougboh, said, “He said that he was going to grant us amnesty? Are we criminals? No, he couldn’t have said that.
“Let’s wait and see. If he said that, then you would hear from me tomorrow. We are not criminals and how can someone be talking of amnesty?”
While pouring encomium on the members of staff of the party who are still being owed backlog of salaries, Adeyeye said that the party would make sure that their outstanding salaries “are paid.”
Earlier, Makarfi, while speaking when some former PDP ministers paid the members of the caretaker committee a courtesy visit, said opposition to the APC government would have died if the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of Sheriff.
Makarfi stated, the “APC is even afraid of holding NEC meeting not to talk of national convention. Maybe, the party is afraid that doing so could lead to its disintegration and that it could scatter.”
He said the PDP leadership would meet on Monday and Tuesday next week where decisions would be reached on when to call a NEC meeting.
Makarfi added that the party would also set up committees to resolve crisis in some states, especially in the South-West.
He promised to engage the sacked national chairman of the party and its group in discussions on how to bring unity into the party.
The former ministers, however, regretted that the crisis in the party would have been avoided if their objection to the appointment of Sheriff had been heeded.
The Chairman of the Former Ministers Forum, who is also a former Minister for Special Duties, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki (SAN), who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said the party must not allow the euphoria of the Supreme Court judgment to mislead it.
He said, “If we are now telling Nigerians that we have realised our mistake, we must shed the toga of impunity. We must make sure that things are done in a transparent manner and there must be inclusiveness.”
Also, the PDP caucus in the House of Representatives boasted on Thursday that the party would retake the Presidency from the ruling APC in 2019.
It said the Wednesday’s judgment by the Supreme Court, which resolved the leadership crisis in the PDP, had set the stage for the party to begin full preparations for the 2019 elections.
The members celebrated the court decision at the National Assembly shortly before the start of the day’s plenary.
The jubilant members of the House, who were led by the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, described the judgment as a “victory for democracy.”
Speaking for the group at a news conference attended by many of them, Ogor said, “By this turn of events, we can tell you that there is vacancy in Aso Rock.
“We are moving into Aso Rock in 2019. We earlier issued a notice to quit, but now, we can assure Nigerians that in 2019, PDP will move into Aso Rock.”
Ogor added that the members would quickly heal the wounds of the crisis by acknowledging that there was “no victor, no vanquished.”
He said, “For democracy to thrive, there must be virile opposition; the type the PDP will give to confront the inconsistencies of the APC in the past two years.
“For over two years, the APC has only succeeded in taking two steps forward and six steps backward.”
Meanwhile, Sheriff has said he is still in shock over the judgment of the Supreme Court, which removed him from office on Wednesday.
Sheriff said he was still waiting for his lawyers to brief him on the details of the judgment.
His reaction was sent to one of our correspondents on Thursday by his erstwhile deputy, Ojuogboh, and the former spokesperson for his faction, Mr. Bernard Mikko, in Abuja.
Mikko, who signed the statement, said Nigerians should continue to pray for the country.
The three-paragraph statement said, “We received with shock the 12th July judgment of the Supreme Court on the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party.
“We still await the written judgment of the highest court from our lawyers, who will fully brief us on the details of the judgment. In the interim, we ask all members and supporters to remain steadfast in prayers for Nigeria.
“Meanwhile, we continue with our avowed demands that the party must be given back to the owners at the grassroots to always elect their party officials and those to contest elections for them at all levels. Internal democracy must be institutionalised in the party.”
Sheriff was removed by a five-man panel of justices of the Supreme Court, which also recognised the Makarfi-led national caretaker committee as the authentic leadership of the former ruling party.
In a related development, the Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jibrin, on Thursday, said he would have resigned if Sheriff had won at the Supreme Court.
Jibrin, who expressed joy with the victory of the Makarfi committee, in a statement issued in Kaduna on Thursday, added that the judgment came at the right time for the party to put its house in order before the next general elections.
“I would have resigned as PDP BoT chairman if Sheriff had won,” he said.