The crisis rocking the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) does not appear to be abating, even with the judgement of the Court of Appeal.
The National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has asked the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to jail his rival Senator Ahmed Makarfi, and some of his loyalists over what he described as ‘contempt of court’.
The former Borno State Governor and the PDP National Secretary, Professor Wale Oladipo, accused Senator Makarfi and others of flouting the order of the court which was delivered on February 17, 2017.
The Appeal Court had in addition to pronouncing Sheriff as the PDP National Chairman, ruled that the removal of the National Working Committee was wrong while the constitution of the caretaker committee was illegal.
Apart from the former Kaduna State Governor, Senator Sheriff also listed three other prominent leaders of the party as those to be jailed by the appellate court.
Others named as alleged contemnors are the two other members of the sacked National Caretaker Committees, Senator Ben Obi (secretary) and Mr Dayo Adeyeye (publicity secretary), and a former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode.
In the suit with APPEAL NO: CA/PH/349/2016, Sheriff asked the court to commit the four persons to prison for one year over the alleged contempt.
Apart from the four contemnors, he also listed a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Emeka Ihedioha; a former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana; Chairman, Board of Trustees of the party, Senator Walid Jibrin; and an aspirant to the office of the party’s national chairman, Mr Bode George, as alleged contemnors.
Close Down Factional Secretariat
The PDP National Chairman, however, did not pray the court to commit Ihedioha, Gana, Jibrin and George to prison.
Rather, he asked the court for an order restraining them from “proclaiming or otherwise holding out to the public that the first to third alleged contemnors are national officers of the PDP for any purpose whatsoever”.
Listed as defendants in the case are the PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Department of State Services (DSS).
Senator Sheriff and Professor Oladipo asked the court to stop Senator Makarfi and his group from parading themselves as national officers of the party.
They also asked the court to direct the IGP and the DSS to close down the factional secretariat being operated by the Makarfi group.
Apart from that, the duo prayed the court not to transmit the records of the court proceedings to Markarfi and his group, saying they didn’t have the permission of the party to get it.
Defy Court Order
Oladipo, who signed an affidavit in support of the claim, stated that on February 17, “soon after the judgment was delivered, the alleged contemnors proceeded to address the media and to comment negatively, contemptuously, disparagingly and contumeliously on the findings and order of the court set out above.
“Rather than accept that the justice of the matter as determined by this honourable court was as expressed in the findings, holdings and order set out above, the fourth to eighth alleged contemnors made statements encouraging the first to third respondents to defy the order of the court and flout the purpose of the court’s judgment delivered on the 17th of February 2017,” he said.
The PDP National Secretary claimed that it was on this basis that the alleged contemnors placed notices in newspapers, where they convened a meeting of what they called “PDP stakeholders.
“The said meeting was held on Monday, February 20, and was attended by the fourth to eighth alleged contemnors, who made further statements encouraging the first to third alleged contemnors to defy the holdings and order of the court”.
Purpose Of The Judgment
The motion on notice for the committal of the alleged contemnors was filed by eight lawyers, led by a former Minister of Justice, Akin Olujimi, who was joined by two other Senior Advocates of Nigeria – Dr. Alex Izinyon and B. E. Nwofor – among others.
“The actions of the alleged contemnors, as shown in the affidavit in support of this application, have the effort of flouting the purpose of the judgment of this Honourable court, which purpose is to properly regulate the exercise of powers by the alleged contemnors against the applicants and first respondent; avoid any further anarchy, lawlessness and deepening crisis capable of heating up the Nigerian polity; and establish the requirements of the rule of law and due process in the administration of justice.
“Although the alleged contemnors were not parties to the action in court, it is our humble submission that they have a responsibility to ensure that they do not aid and abet the disobedience of the judgment order or treat the said judgment with disdain and disrespect,” the lawyers stated.
Senator Markarfi and the other faction of the party are believed to have filed an application seeking for stay of execution of the judgment and leave for appeal.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of Sheriff’s case, which was filed on February 24, 2017.