Tony Ita-Etim, Port Harcourt
A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Monday, declared that the May 21, 2016 National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,
was duly constituted, declaring that the dissolution of the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee by that convention were valid.
In his judgment on the suit filed by the PDP against Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and others, Justice Abdullahi Liman declared that the appointment of the Caretaker Committee of the PDP to oversee its affairs was legal and in line with the provisions of the PDP constitution.
Justice Liman said that Article 31 (1) of the PDP constitution vested the powers to convene a national convention on the National Executive Committee of the party.
The court held that pursuant to the constitution of the party, the former Acting National Chairman had no powers to unilaterally postpone the properly constituted national convention on a day all delegates had converged on Port Harcourt, the host city.
He described the action of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as most unconscionable, pointing out that the former Acting National Chairman participated in all the processes leading to the National Convention, only to make a U-turn at the final minute after he was screened and disqualified.
The court ruled that after Sheriff was disqualified following his screening, the only option that was left to Senator Sheriff was to have gone to the venue of the National Convention to seek the opinion of delegates whether they were prepared to go on with the convention or not.
According to Justice Liman, the absence of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff from the convention did not visible from the process as his powers were not usurped.
The court declared that under Article 35 (b) of the PDP constitution, in the absence of the Chairman, the Deputy Chairman was empowered to preside over the National Convention.
It therefore ruled that the May 21st, 2016 PDP National Convention was properly constituted and the decisions taken at the convention, valid.
The Federal High Court further ruled that in line with Article 33 (2) of the PDP constitution, the National Convention of the party is supreme and can exercise the powers to dissolve the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee of the party.
On the issue of the abuse of court process claimed by the Former National Acting Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the court held that the plaintiffs in the case in question are not the same in the cases mentioned by the defendants, noting that the plaintiffs suit only centres on the National Convention.
The court noted that five days to the National Convention, the Former Acting National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff had through his counsel’s dissociated himself from one of the suits they filed via proxies.
Justice Liman emphasized that there was no suit challenging the conduct of the National Convention in Port Harcourt and that no injunction sought to stop the convention.
Addressing journalists after the judgment, Counsel to the PDP, Dejo Lamikanra (SAN) said that the judgment settles all the contending issues concerning the PDP. He said with the judgement, the decision of the National Convention to appoint a Caretaker Committee stands and that Senator Ali Modu Sheriff was duly sacked.
In his remarks, Secretary of the Caretaker Committee, Senator Ben Obi declared that the Caretaker Committee will now settle down to carry out the responsibility bestowed on it by the National Convention.
Counsel to Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, Mr. John Martins Abu commended the court for its judgment.