Appeal Court nullifies PDP convention, upholds Sheriff as chairman

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Ali Modu Sheriff
Ali Modu Sheriff
Ali Modu Sheriff
Ali Modu Sheriff

The Appeal Court in Port Harcourt on Friday nullified Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) National Convention held in the Rivers capital in 2016.

The court also nullified the National Caretaker Committee of the party constituted at the convention, and held that Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff remained the National Chairman of PDP.

Two out of the three-member Appeal Court, Justice B.G. Sanga and Justice A. Gumel, in their judgment said the Port Harcourt convention on May 21, 2016, was an abuse of court process.

Delivering the lead judgment, Sanga said that PDP did not follow the provisions of Article 47(3) of its Constitution in the removal of the 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 Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, 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 Mohammed Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, and set aside the judgment of Justice Mohammed Liman of Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, which upheld the convention and its outcome.

The court awarded N100, 000 to Sheriff, to be borne by the nullified national caretaker committee’s Chairman, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, the PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Inspector-General of Police and Department of State Service (DSS).

Meanwhile, the third member of the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt, Justice T.S. Orji-Abadua, upheld Justice Mohammed Liman’s judgment, saying that the Port Harcourt convention was legal.

According to her, 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 Ali Amodu Sheriff had no powers to cancel the party’s national convention.

She said that Sheriff was only appointed to 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 theMay 21 convention after being screened, which prompted the party to invoke Article 31(1) of its Constitution and set up a caretaker committee.

She 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.

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