Alleged Contempt: Sheriff Threatens To Jail Makarfi, Others

Ali Modu Sheriff, Ahmed Makarfi, PDP, PDP Crisis
PDP National Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff

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.

PDP, Ahmed Makarfi
Senator Ahmed Makarfi

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.‎

PDP Plans Reconciliation Ahead Of Ondo Election

PDP, INEC, Police, DSS, Court, Ondo Election, ReconciliationThe former national secretary of the PDP, Professor Adewale Oladepo, says they are setting up a 24-man committee to reorganize the party.

This is part of ongoing efforts by leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party  to put their house together, ahead of the Ondo governorship election.

Professor Oladepo stated this at a press conference in Abuja on the activities of the party in the last two weeks after the two factional leaders agreed to work together.

The former national secretary stated that the 24-man committee that will be inaugurated will not only reconcile the party, but will prepare it ahead of the Ondo state governorship election in November.

Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and his group had been in constant leadership tussle with the Makarfi-led caretaker committee  in the last five months.

The party’s attempt to elect principal officers in May and August 2016 to put to rest the leadership crisis failed.

But the Secretary of the Makarfi-led caretaker committee, Senator Ben Obi and the Deputy Chairman of Senator Sheriff-led faction told reporters at a joint press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, September 20, that all differences were being resolved.

It was also announced that the two group leaders had agreed to set up a joint committee that will reconcile other aggrieved members of the party.

Division became obvious in the party after it lost power to the All Progressives Congress in the 2015 general election. Its national convention held in Port Harcourt ended controversially, with the chairman of the party, Senator Sheriff removed.

After his removal at that convention, top leaders of the party set up a caretaker committee headed by Senator Makarfi.

However, Senator Sheriff continued to parade himself as the chairman of the party, saying the decision to remove him contravened a court order that had made the convention illegal.

The party has continued in division, with both men claiming the leadership position.

PDP Resolves Leadership Crisis

PDP Makarfi and Sheriff in crisisIt appears the leadership crisis rocking the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nigeria may be coming to an end, as the factions of Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff have agreed to sheath their swords.

The Secretary of the Makarfi-led caretaker committee, Senator Ben Obi and the Deputy Chairman of Senator Sheriff-led faction told reporters at a joint press conference in Abuja on Tuesday that all differences were being resolved.

The two group leaders have also agreed to set up a joint committee that will reconcile other aggrieved members of the party.

Division became obvious in the party that lost power to the All Progressives Congress in the 2015 general election when a national convention held in Port Harcourt ended controversially, with the chairman of the party, Senator Sheriff removed.

After his removal at that convention, top leaders of the party set up a caretaker committee headed by Senator Makarfi.

However, Senator Sheriff continued to parade himself as the chairman of the party, saying the decision to remove him contravened a court order that had made the convention illegal.

The party has continued in division, with both men claiming the leadership position.

The situation deepened when the party produced two governorship candidates in two states ahead of elections that will hold later this year.

There have been conflicting court judgements affirming both Senator Sheriff and Senator Makarfi as leaders of the party, a situation that the judiciary leadership said it would investigate and punish judges that had delivered the judgements, if they were could guilty.

‘Hold, Don’t Hold’, Courts Rule On PDP’s National Convention

Court on PDP National ConventionTwo different judgements have been made by two different courts in cases related to the planned Peoples Democratic Party’s National Convention scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt on August 17.

The latest in the rulings, a declaration issued by a Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, suspended the convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

Justice Okon Abang issued the order on Monday after a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had asked the party to go on with the national convention as planned.

He said the suspension of the convention was in the interest of justice to both factions in the party in a suit pending before him and also to curb the excesses of some parties in the suit and to serve as a disciplinary action against those treating the court with levity.

‘Secretly Obtained Court Restraint’

This judgement came hours after the Port Harcourt court restrained the police, the Department of State Services and the electoral body from interfering or stopping the Port Harcourt convention.

The injunction, which was gotten from the court by Senator Ben Obi, also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to supervise the convention.

The court on Monday restrained the Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Director of the Department of State Security Service, (DSS), the Director DSS Rivers State and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from interfering in the conduct of the party’s convention.

‘Baseless Request’

The presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Watila, in the interlocutory injunction also directed the security agencies mentioned in the suit to provide adequate security for the event and also asked INEC to be present.

Justice Abang said his action was also as a result of the interim order obtained in the Port Harcourt court.

The judge held that Senator Obi ‘secretly went to Port Harcourt’ to obtain the said order when he knew he was a party seeking to be joined in the legal action filed by the Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff’s faction.

Sheriff’s faction had filed a case with the court to stop the Port Harcourt convention days after another court upheld his leadership of the PDP.

“Any court of coordinate jurisdiction which makes it a habit to grant ex parte injunctions against decisions made by a sister court is on its own,” he said.

In the case, Senator Sheriff had challenging the legality of the planned PDP convention and requested that the court should stop it on the grounds that it was being organised by a body not known to the law.

After suspending the convention, the court adjourned to the August 16 of for continuation of hearing.

PDP Leadership Crisis

Leadership crisis had deepened in the opposition party in May, after some members of the party removed Senator Sheriff as the party’s chairman and set up a caretaker committee to organise another convention where its principal officers would be elected.

After his removal, Senator Sheriff has continued to lay claims to the leadership of the party, saying that a court had issued an order suspending the convention before it was held.

He has obtained a court ruling upholding his leadership.

On Sunday, however, Senator Sheriff said he had received recommendations from the party’s reconciliation committee, but said he had also made his own demands which he would stand on.

Part of his demands, he said, was for the planned national convention to be shelved while arrangements should be made to hold a convention in Abuja that will be transparent.

After the court in Port Harcourt gave its ruling on Monday, the Ahmed Makarfi’s faction published a statement welcoming Party leaders, delegates, members, supporters, invited guests and observers to the planned National Convention.

In the statement by the Chairman, Publicity Sub-Committee of the National Convention Committee, Onyema Ugochukwu, said that the scheduled National Convention was mainly to elect officers of the Party drawn from the six geo-political zones of Nigeria to fill in the vacant positions that occurred following the Dissolution of national officers due to the expiration of their tenure at the last National Convention on May 21, 2016.

Senator Sheriff has said that the Tenure of the party’s chairman he took over from would end in 2018.

The Makarfi faction believes that the successful outcome of the August 17 National Convention will usher in fresh leaders that will manage the affairs of the opposition party that lost power to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 election after holding power in the centre for 16 years.

They claimed that the party’s fresh leaders would “rescue Nigerians from confusion and strife that the APC led Government has imposed on all of us”.

National Peace Committee, Buhari Discuss Nigeria’s Peace

Muhammadu-BuhariThe National Peace Committee for the 2015 General Elections, headed by former Head of State General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd), has held a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

At the meeting held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Tuesday, talks were focused on how to sustain the peace that Nigeria had got after the general election.

The committee had brokered the signing of the peace accords between President Buhari and his predecessor, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, ahead of the March 28 presidential poll.

Addressing reporters after the meeting, which lasted for about an hour, the catholic Bishop of Sokoto State, Bishop Matthew Kukah, said the peace committee had a role to still nurture the peace which Nigeria had got following the general elections.

The meeting is coming barely three days after former President Jonathan, had paid a secret visit to President Buhari at the residence.

Present at the meeting were General Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III and President of the Christian Association of Nigeria Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.

Also in attendance were Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Cardinal John Onaiyekan, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mrs Priscilla Kuye and Senator Ben Obi.


Analyst Commends Air Traffic Controller For Grounding Governors Flights

An Aviation Analyst, Charles Aligbe, has commended the unnamed Air Traffic Controller in Benin, for the  ‘professional courage’ in calling back a chattered helicopter boarded by the Governor of Edo state, for flouting aviation rules.

Governor Adams Oshiomhole with some of his aides were on their way to Awka, Anambra State in the chartered OAS helicopter when the aircraft was recalled to Benin Airport. The chopper’s pilot, Captain James Manahash, was alleged not to have paid aerodrome and landing fees and also not file a passengers manifest.

Speaking on Channels TV’s, Sunrise Daily, Aligbe applauded the Air Traffic Controller for having the courage to insist on due process despite the governor’s presence.

He blamed the Pilot, saying the “air traffic controller in Benin should be commended for courage because he exhibited professional courage by insisting that what should be done, should be done”.

Amaechi’s Plane

Arguing that it is important for every pilot to present manifesto of passengers on board, the aviation expert explained that Governor Amaechi’s pilot did not do follow the right procedure, just like Governor Oshiomhole’s pilot.

Noting that the Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal’s aircraft was also at the Akure Airport at the time Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s plane was grounded, Aligbe claimed that the Pilot conveying the Speaker did the proper thing by typing the manifesto (including the names of all passengers) and sending it to the appropriate authority while Amaechi’s pilot did not indicate the names of his passengers.

He revealed that while presenting Amaechi’s manifest, the names of passengers was written as “Governor and others”.

He warned Nigerians to separate politics from professional issues and check if people are doing the appropriate thing.

FG Grounds Oshiomhole’s Helicopter

A mild drama ensued on Friday in Benin City as a helicopter conveying Edo state Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, to the burial ceremony of Senator Ben Obi’s wife in Awka, Anambra state, was grounded for about an hour at the Benin airport by officials of the Nigerian Airport Management Authority (NAMA).

The helicopter belonging to OAS Helicopter had picked up the Governor at the Government House premises but was ordered to immediately land at the airport for clearance.

Aviation authorities contacted the pilot of the aircraft, James Manahash, shortly after take-off and ordered him to return to Benin, the Edo state capital.

The pilot was reportedly asked to go and pay some dues he should have paid before take-off.

After landing, Governor Oshiomhole who had instructed the pilot to return, left the chartered aircraft after waiting for about an hour and drove away in his official car in anger because the pilot could not get the aviation officials’ to proceed on his flight.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Kassim Afegbua who briefed journalists afterwards, said the Governor had to cancel his trip after being delayed for an hour and left for his village, Iyamho.

Mr Afegbua said it is worrisome that governors are no longer respected adding that they will not be provoked by the actions of NAMA.

Channels TV correspondent in Benin city however sought to get NAMA’s reaction on the matter but all efforts to see the Air Space Manager was unsuccessful as NAMA officials prevented our crew from entering NAMA’s premises, claiming they needed to get tags to let our crew in, yet they refused to provide the tags.

In his reaction, the coordinating general manager, Aviation Parastals, Yakubu Dati, said there is nothing political about the action.

He insisted that the decision was taken because the pilot failed to file the mandatory flight plan and passenger manifest and refused to do so as demanded by the aviation officials.

This is coming barely over a month after Rivers state-owned bombardier aircraft which was meant to convey Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, was prevented from leaving the Akure Airport because the pilot allegedly failed to declare the flight manifest.




Southeast leaders meet on national security

Political leaders of the southeast region on Sunday, converged at Enugu government house, Enugu state, to brainstorm over issues that collectively affect the zone.

Briefing journalists after the over three hours closed door meeting, the Anambra state governor and chairman South-East governors forum, Mr Peter Obi, disclosed that constitution amendment, security and other issues of common interest were top on agenda of discussion.

The Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial zone, Dr Chris Ngige and the presidential adviser on inter party affairs, Senator Ben Obi, also revealed that state creation was also part of the issue discussed in regards of the ongoing constitution amendment by the national assembly.

Senator Ben Obi noted that the contributions of the southeast governors in remaining focused in promoting the unity and welfare of the zone is highly commendable.

The meeting had in attendance governors of the southeast region, members of national and state assemblies, traditional rulers among others.