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p38 for planning Only the courts will resolve PDP crisis – Barr Maidugu Deep resentment in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have continued to tear…

p38 for planning

Only the courts will resolve PDP crisis – Barr Maidugu

Deep resentment in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have continued to tear the party apart, with two contending national chairmen, Sen Ali Modu Sheriff and Sen Ahmed Makarfi, in various courts seeking legitimacy. In this interview, the embattled legal adviser of the party, Barr Bashir Maidugu, said the outcome of the litigations would address impunity and make the party stronger.

Hamza Idris & David Abiola

Sen Ali Modu Sheriff has declared the Edo primary election of the PDP, conducted by the Sen Makarfi-led caretaker committee as null and void, and had gone ahead to put machinery in place for a parallel election. Don’t you think this is another minus for your party?

First and foremost, you know you cannot put something on nothing. The Makarfi committee that purportedly conducted the election is an illegal entity because it is a product of illegality.

How?

I have been saying this in different fora and I am saying it again that the committee was created as a result of the purported convention in Port Harcourt. Before then, there were judgments that clearly said there was no vacancy to be filled in the PDP. They all heard the judgments. There are two cases instituted by the national secretary and the national auditor at the Federal High Court in Lagos. Again, we, the national deputy officers, also instituted another case at the Abuja High Court which passed a judgment that 18 offices were not vacant. I have a copy of the judgment if you want me to give it to you.

When a court makes a declaration, I think the most reasonable thing to do is to respect the directive. However, the organizers of the convention in Port Harcourt refused to heed to the court ruling and therefore produced the Makarfi committee to run the affairs of the PDP for three month. This is illegal and therefore the committee cannot constitute any primary on behalf of PDP. The only legal entity known to the law is the Sherriff-led national executive.

How can you say Sheriff’s leadership is legal when Makarfi was at the INEC after the convention, and was recognized as chairman of the PDP?

No, he wasn’t recognized. Nobody recognized him at the INEC. In fact, INEC did not even monitor the so called Port Harcourt convention because of the court order.

On what legal backing is Sheriff standing as chairman after the Port Harcourt convention told him to go?

The PDP problem was essentially caused by misunderstanding. First, Sheriff succeeded Mu’azu, who was elected in 2014. And usually, the chairman is elected for four years, which means Mu’azu’s tenure will expire by 2018. However, he resigned after the 2015 election, and there must be a replacement from his own zone (North-East) to complete his tenure. Then came Sherriff, who is from Borno State.

But the arrangement when he came on board in February was that he will organize a convention in May…

I am one of those who opposed Sherriff initially, but after he became the chairman, we had no reason not to work with him because doing so is as good as disrespecting the party.

Do you think the courts can resolve the impasse?

Yes, depending on the acceptance of members of the party. The truth is that we have the PDP governors who formed a very powerful bloc; the National Assembly caucus, which is also a powerful bloc; the Board of Trustees (BoT), also a powerful bloc. And we have the state chairmen and other national officers. Now, if all of them can sit down, negotiate and agree on a way forward, everybody will sacrifice for the party.

But it’s clear that PDP governors are no longer with Sheriff.

Well, I cannot say they’re not with him.

Why did Sheriff go to Port Harcourt for the convention and then shelved everything midway when he realized the governors were not with him?

He aborted the Port Harcourt convention principally citing the court judgment. Again, as somebody who does not have immunity, his continuous supervision of that convention would mean that he is contravening court judgment, which will amount to contempt.

Why is he making appointments when there are cases in the courts?

Five members of the National Working Committee (NWC) resigned their appointments and purportedly handed over their offices to the Makarfi-led committee. They are the national deputy chairman, Prince Uche Secondus; the national organizing secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Mustapha; the national women leader, Mrs. Kema Chikwe; the national legal adviser, Mr Victor Okon; and the national youth leader, Mr Abuldullahi Maibasira.

There is a provision in Section 35 and 47(6) of the PDP constitution that says if anybody resigns, his deputy should take over and act in that capacity, pending the appointment of a substantive qualified person into that position from his zone. So, in light of that, the chairman and secretary wrote and directed that I, as the deputy national legal adviser, should act as the legal adviser. Other deputies were equally directed. What Sheriff did was not new appointments; it was just regularization for the fulfilment of the constitution of PDP.

What confidence do you have that Sheriff and those of you in his camp would survive the turbulence when other senior officers have moved to Makarfi?

Well, the truth is that all of us, at the end of the day, would have to agree to move the party forward. I don’t know the shape it will take, but we must agree if we have to make any reasonable impact in subsequent elections.

The national headquarters of your party has been sealed off by the police, meaning that no activity can take place there. Is this the kind of opposition you will offer?

The headquarters was closed because of disagreement. Remember, there are four different court cases and the moment the courts pronounce judgment or rulings, the victorious faction will just move into the Wadata Plaza.

Don’t you think by going to the courts the PDP stalwarts have shot themselves below the belt?

It is normal for things like this to happen at this stage of our national development. We’re evolving and our democracy is maturing.

Some are saying the PDP will not recover from the shock of defeat…

No, it’s not a question of defeat; it’s just about doing the right thing. Personally, as a lawyer, a senior one for that matter, I will not involve myself in any illegality. As far as I know, what we are doing (in the Sheriff Camp) is perfectly legal. But, if the courts decide otherwise, then we will go with the court decision.

What do you make of the allegation that Sheriff is basically working for the APC?

This is an actionable accusation and I think it is something they need to prove. It’s not enough to accuse somebody without fact. The most important thing is for you to produce evidence that what you are saying is the truth and so far, we have not seen any.

Edo: APC chides PDP over Obaseki

From Usman A. Bello, Benin

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State said that the attack on its gubernatorial flag-bearer, Mr Godwin Obaseki, by the state’s chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dan Orbiih, was baseless.

The APC, therefore, called on the people of the state to ignore what it called “the ranting of Orbih” who was calling for the probe of Obaseki over unfounded allegation of fraudulent practice.

In a statement signed by the publicity secretary of the party, Godwin Erhahon, the APC said that Obaseki was not being investigated by the EFCC or any law enforcement agency for any alleged fraud.

The statement said: “Rather, it is Chief Orbih who was recently interrogated by the EFCC over the scandalous disbursement of federal government’s N700million for the rigging of last year’s presidential election in Edo State. He is only attacking Mr Obaseki as a way of diverting public attention from his cases with EFCC.”

Sherrif remains PDP chairman – Rep Agbonayinma

From Usman A. Bello, Benin

A member of the House of Representatives, Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma, representing Egor/Ikpoba Okha Federal Constituency, said that Senator Ali Modu Sheriff remains the authentic national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Agbonayinma, who said this in Benin, weekend, said that the crisis in the PDP was unnecessary, adding: “Until there is a contrary court judgment setting aside the subsisting court ruling, Ali Modu Sheriff remains the chairman of our great party.

Agbonayinma, who picked the Sherriff’s faction nomination and expression of interest forms for the governorship election for Edo State, promised to back down if there was a contrary ruling before the faction’s primary poll scheduled for Wednesday, June 29, 2016.

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