PDP crisis: Abuja court sacks Sheriff

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PDP crisis: Abuja court sacks Sheriff

PDP crisis: Abuja court sacks Sheriff
June 30
05:21 2016

A twist was yesterday added to the crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Apo, Abuja ordered factional Chairman Ali Modu Sheriff and other officers to refrain from parading themselves in those capacities.

Justice Valentine Ashi of Court 29, High Court of the FCT, Apo, restrained individuals “currently parading themselves as the national officers of the PDP on the basis of the purported amendment to the PDP constitution effected at a special convention held in Abuja on December 10 and 11, 2014.

By the amendment of 2014, effected on Article Article 47 Paragraph 6 of the PDP Constitution, the party amended the provision which says in case of any vacancy, the National Executive Committee (NEC) can appoint an Acting Chairman from the area or sone where the last occupant of the office comes from “pending when election is conducted” to reflect that where there is a vacancy, the Acting Chairman shall “serve the tenure of the officer”, who left before the expiration of the tenure.

Justice Ashi declared the 2014 amendment to the PDP constitution illegal on the ground that the party did not comply with Section 66(2)(3) of its constitution by not serving the National Secretary with a written copy of the proposed amendment two months before the convention, which the secretary was also required to circulate among state secretaries of the party a month before the convention.

The judge, who stressed the need for the party to strictly adhere to the provisions of its constitution, added that the insertion of the clauses in Section 66(2) and(3) was to deepen democracy in the party and that they constituted conditions precedent that must be first fulfilled.

The judgment was on a suit filed by a PDP member from Irele Local Government Area of Ondo State, Joseph Jero, against the PDP. The PDP was the sole defendant in the suit.

The plaintiff, Jero, invoked the jurisdiction of the court to interpret sections 221(d) and 223 (1)(a) of the Constitution, Article 47(6) of the PDP Constitution as well as section 85(3) of the Electoral Act with regard to the appointment of a caretaker or chairman of the party’s constitution.

The judge held that the process leading to the amendment of Article 47(6) of the party’s constitution did not comply the provisions in Section 66(2) and (3) of the party’s constitution.

Justice Ashi dismissed the argument by lawyers to the PDP, including Okere Kingdom to the effect that the appointment of the party’s chairman was an internal affair of the party in which the court should not dabble.

The judge held that although the issue was an internal affair of the party, the court had jurisdiction to determine whether the party complied with its own constitution and regulations.

Justice Ashi did not specifically mention Shriff in his judgment, but ordered that those, who became national officers of the party by virtue of the 2014 amendment to the PDP constitution, which the court has declared unlawful, should cease to parade themselves in those capacities.

After a thorough analysis of submissions by parties and evidence presented, Justice Ashi ordered that: “The purported amendment of Article 47, Rule 6 of the PDP, 2012 at a Special Conventions held on Wednesday and Thursday, 10 and 11 December, 2014 is unconstitutional, null and void as there was no compliance with mandatory provision of Article 66 (2) and (3) of the same constitution.

“By reason of the above, the purported amendment of Article 47(6) introduced to PDP Constitution on the aforesaid dates, are hereby set aside.

“All persons, individuals, officers, servants or agents of PDP parading themselves as the national officers of the PDP pursuant to the purported which has now been nullified are hereby restrained from further parading themselves in these capacities.”

The original provision provided that in the case of a vacancy, the executive committee of the party either at ward, state or national level, should appoint a caretaker or a chairman from the zone of the former holder of the office “pending the conduct of election.”

The amendment provision stipulated that the appointed caretaker or chairman should hold office “to serve the term of the (previous) officer”.

The amendment was made by the party to validate the emergence of Adamu Muazu as the Chairman of the party following the abrupt exit of his predecessor, Bamaga Tukur in 2014 and to sustain the emergence of former President Goodluck Jonathan as the presidential candidate of the party.

Sheriff, a former governor of Borno State, became the party’s chairman by virtue of the 2014 amendment, being from the same zone as Mu’azu.

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