Makarfi’s group to dump PDP, Sheriff for new party.

As the leadership crisis rocking the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) continues to fester, indicators have emerged in the direction that suggest that the Sen. Ahmed Makarfi-led leadership is planning to abandon the party for Sen Ali Modu Sheriff and his allies for a new party.

It was gathered that the option of leaving PDP for Sheriff is one of the cards on the table for the Makarfi group following the inability of both factions to reconcile.

It was also learnt that the group is leveraging on the continued support it still enjoys from all the major organs of the party to make the exodus that would leave Sheriff with just an empty shell of the party.

However, the deputy national chairman to Sheriff, Cairo Ojougboh, said that the Makarfi group is free to go if they want. Ojougboh who noted that they have been hearing of such moves by Makarfi camp, added that if they exit it would allow for the rebuilding of the party which has been ravaged by acts of impunity.

The leadership crisis rocking the PDP has culminated in the legal dispute over the governorship candidate of the PDP in Ondo State, a scenario which threatens the chances of the party retaining the state, which it currently governs.

Series of reconciliation attempts have failed as both factions, despite an agreement of its leaders, Makarfi and Sheriff, to resolve their differences and forge a common front.

A PDP source in Makarfi’s camp said admitted that they in Makarfi camp are getting weary of the antics of Sheriff, he added that it was becoming apparent by the day that a reconciliation between both camps won’t happen in the nearest future.

The party source noted that just like in the Edo governorship election, the events surrounding the Ondo governorship election is clear indication that the Sheriff camp won’t back down until they decimate the PDP.

“I can tell you that the option of leaving the party for Sheriff and his camp has come up in some party circles. It has been muted but not aggressively adopted yet. We are still looking at it. We cannot continue to be held down by few disgruntled elements who are being used by the party in power to undermine us ahead of 2019,” the source said.

Another source said “For some of our party members, the PDP brand is too big to be left to Sheriff. But reality is also setting in by the day that Sheriff and his loyalists are not ready for genuine reconciliation. You can see that they keep shifting the bar at every turn. So the idea of leaving the party for them and forming our own will gain more converts, especially now that some people are trying to form a new party and the APC is having serious problems. But we will have to deliberate on it very well.

Attempts to get the party’s spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye, to react to the issue was not possible as he didn’t pick calls placed to him nor respond to text message sent to him. But Ojougboh, said that the Makarfi group are free to go if they want to do so, stressing that it would afford them the opportunity to rebuild the party.

He said “It is free entry and free exit. If they say they want to leave let them leave so that we can rebuild the party. The interesting thing is that some of them want to go but some of the governors are insisting they will stay back that is what is happening now. I don’t know why governors Ayo Fayose of Ekiti and Nyesom Wike of Rivers want to kill PDP.”

He added “The entire grassroots across the country have said they don’t want to leave the party and that they want to remain in the party under Sheriff. We went to former Vice President Alex Ekwueme and he told us that until the people causing impunity leave the party he will not have anything to do with the party.”

Meanwhile, with six days to the Ondo State governorship election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has rejected calls by the Makarfi PDP-led for the postponement of the polls because of a pending legal dispute surrounding the governorship candidate of the party.

The Sen Ahmed Makarfi-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the Ondo State governorship election pending the determination of the suit before the Supreme Court.

The party justified its call for postponement of the polls against the backdrop that INEC is a party to the suit before the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, adding that the commission is well aware of the steps taken by certain parties to the suit to frustrate the course of justice.

The party in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, further claimed that the recent invasion of the homes of justices of the Supreme Court, and the arrests and harassment of several judges by men of the Directorate of State Services, are compelling judges to refrain from furthering the course of justice by unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against them.

The party also stated that several mischievous actions by Messrs Biyi Poroye, Jimoh Ibrahim and their legal team led by Mr. Ben Nwofor (SAN), including unsubstantiated allegations of corruption and disregard for the justices of the Court of Appeal to disruption of court proceedings and flagrant abuse of Court processes has frustrated the case.

The Court of Appeal Panel led by Justice Ibrahim Salauwa had on Friday adjourned sine die over appeals by Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) against a judgment given by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Justice Ibrahim Salauwa had stated that the decision to adjourn was taken in the face of a petition written against the panel to the Chief Justice of the Federation (CJN) and chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) alleging acts of corruption, bias and breach of oaths of office amongst others.

Furthermore, the respondents had filed a motion at the Supreme Court in which the justices of Court of Appeal Panel were named as co-respondents in their personal capacities. But Makarfi’s PDP, in its statement yesterday said “The indefinite adjournment is a consequence of the latest of several mischievous actions taken by Messrs Biyi Poroye, Jimoh Ibrahim and their legal team led by Mr. Ben Nwofor (SAN).

“These actions, ranging from unsubstantiated allegations of corruption to outright disrespect and disregard for the Justices of the Court of Appeal to disruption of Court proceedings and flagrant abuse of Court processes, are all designed to achieve one aim – stall proceedings and ensure that the legitimate candidate of the party is prevented from contesting the November 26th, 2016 gubernatorial election in Ondo State.

“This outright bullying and intimidation of justices of the Court of Appeal is enabled by the recent invasion of the homes of Justices of the Supreme Court, and the arrests and harassment of several judges by men of the Directorate of State Services. These actions are achieving the desired effect as judges are now compelled to refrain from furthering the course of justice by unsubstantiated allegations of corruption. We are aware that this is only a part of a much bigger plan to use all available resources of state to prevent the legitimate candidate of the party from running for and winning the Ondo State Gubernatorial Election.

“We are aware that this is part of the plan to use the judicial process, security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to rig the election in favour of the ruling party (APC) before the election day. We call on all well meaning Nigerians to urge the All Progressives Congress (APC) led federal government to desist from the use of organs of the Nigerian State as a tool with which to subvert the will of the Nigerian people. At this point, we must urge all Nigerians to hold the Federal Government, INEC, APC and the Jimoh Ibrahim group for any consequences of the dangerous games that they have chosen to play with the Nigerian people.

“The judiciary is seen as the last hope of the common man. When the freedom and independence of the judiciary to further the course of justice is tampered with, people often resort to self help. The current situation must not be allowed to deteriorate to that point. We call on INEC to postpone the election pending the determination of the suit before the Supreme Court. We make this call against the backdrop of the fact that INEC is a party to the suit before the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court and is well aware of the steps taken by certain parties to the suit to frustrate the course of justice.

“We also make this call against the backdrop of the fact that INEC postponed the Edo State Gubernatorial Election and recently postponed the Rivers rerun elections without any cogent or visible reason. We urge the justices of the Supreme Court to stand fast in the face of this existential threat to the independence of the judiciary and democracy itself. We urge the justices of the Supreme Court to remember the maxim “Justice delayed is justice denied” while determining the issues before it.

“We use this opportunity to ask our teeming members and supporters in Ondo State and across the country to remain calm. We believe that there are men and women of integrity in the judiciary who will ensure that this act of injustice does not stand.”

INEC’s director on Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said “The circumstances surrounding the postponement of the Edo Election was quite clear. It was because the institutions saddled with security said they could not guarantee security at that time not just in Edo but across the country. That scenario has not arisen at this time. We are going ahead with preparation for the election. The basis for postponement of elections are clearly spelt out in the electoral act. We cannot postpone an election because of internal conflicts of a party. Moreover, we are aware that other parties too like AD and APC have legal issues too. For now we are going ahead with preparation for the Ondo election.”

Similarly, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff has kicked against the call for the postponement of the governorship poll. In a statement in Abuja yesterday, Ojougboh declared that such a call by the “so called National Caretaker Committee of the party is “malicious, shortsightedness, offensive and irresponsible”

The Sheriff faction urged INEC, the judiciary and the members of the public in general to discontinuance the call for postponement as contained in the statement issued by PDP’s national publicity secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye.

Sheriff declared that as a matter of fact the party under his leadership was fully ready for the Saturday’s poll in Ondo State and was confident of the party’s candidate, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim who has been busy campaigning in all the nooks and crannies of the state, winning the election

According to him,”our attention has been brought to the malicious, shortsightedness, offensive and irresponsible statement issued by the illegal National Caretaker Committee as represented by Dayo Adeyeye. The Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, entire judiciary and indeed the members of the public in general should discontinuance the statement on the Ondo state poll completely. We also want to draw the attention of the public to the evil intention and plans of the illegal Caretaker Committee not only to kill the PDP but also to bury it as they have announced to the whole nation that by January next year they would been in a new party, what else are they saying here again? We will not allow them to kill the PDP.

“We hereby state categorically that PDP is beyond destruction, we are calling on them to leave PDP alone and allow us to face the task of rebuilding the party. We are reinstating here again and again that we are ready for the Ondo poll, come November 26th, there is no cogent reason for INEC to do otherwise.”

Meanwhile, PDP staff members at the national headquarters, Abuja, who are loyal to Makarfi’s faction yesterday decried the incessant petition and blackmailing of the Nigerian judiciary by Sheriff in an attempt to delay prompt dispensation of justice to resolve the current leadership crisis in the PDP.

The staff under the auspices of “Staff Welfare Forum” in a press statement on yesterday, said, “The latest attempt by the Senator Ali Modu Sherriff warring group speaks volume of who is actually working in cohorts with the ruling party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) to destabilize the PDP and create a one party state in the country.”

A statement signed by the chairman Ngozi Nzeh, further said, “We have been following all the events and issues surrounding our great party, the PDP after the humbling outing in the 2015 General Elections and the subsequent leadership crisis following the May 21, 2016 National Convention of the party in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. It is sad to say the least how some of our party leaders are working tirelessly with a view to decapitate and destroy the PDP. This is not acceptable and must stop immediately.”

The national secretariat staff of the party declared that they are all in support of the resolution of the May 21, 2016 National Convention of the party in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, establishing the National Caretaker Committee, headed by Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, saying that any member of the party no matter how highly placed working against the convention resolution must tread softly or face the party’s disciplinary committee which has the power to invoke the extant rules and take necessary actions against such erring members.

“The former national chairman of our party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff was only appointed by the 68th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party to complete the tenure of the North East which began with Dr. Bamanga Tukur in 2012 and ended in March, 2016. Senator Sheriff was even given additional 3 months because his appointment came towards the end of the four years tenure of the North East. So, the claim by Senator Sheriff to remain as chairman after the expiration of the tenure of the 2012 Working Committee is anti-party and he and all his cohorts should be treated as enemies of the party.”

The staff declared their unflinching loyalty and total support to the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee saying that the committee is the only authentic product of the National Convention of the PDP which is the highest decision making organ of the party in accordance with the constitution of the party (2012 as amended) in Part X, Section (2), which says…”The National Convention shall be the supreme and controlling authority of the party within the limits prescribed in this constitution and it shall be the principal representatives, policy making and administering body of the party.

“We are therefore perplexed, astonished, amazed, startled and wonder how Senator Sheriff and co, stood the constitution of the party on its head, maintaining that he remains the chairman of the party after the convention of May 21st, 2016. Any judgment he parades in his favour after May 21st, 2016 is nothing but a ‘black-market’ judgment procured through the windows of the court. We are also wondering how Senator Sheriff could seat down as an individual and appoint deputy national chairman, national secretary , national auditor and converting some former deputy officers of the party to substantial officers and still cry impunity when he is the one actually impugning the PDP with reckless abandon without recourse to the party’s constitution.”

The PDP staff members, therefore called on the chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), Chief Justice of the Federation (CJN) and the entire Nigerian judiciary as the third estate of the realm to live up to its responsibility to save Nigeria’s democracy and treat the PDP leadership matter before them with utmost urgency and dedication that it requires, especially to enable enough time for the PDP to campaign with other political parties in the election and participate actively in the Saturday, November 26, 2016 gubernatorial election in Ondo State saying…”Justice delayed is justice denied.”

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