The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) crisis may deepen as the Ali Modu Sheriff’s camp is set to initiate contempt proceedings against the caretaker committee headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi at the Federal High Court in Lagos, it was learnt Tuesday.
The party’s National Secretary Prof Wale Oladipo and Deputy National Legal Adviser Bashir Maidugu said the caretaker committee remains illegal and lack powers to run PDP’s affairs.
Sheriff, Oladipo and National Auditor Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju had obtained an order of interlocutory injunction restraining PDP from conducting any election into the offices of the national chairman, national secretary and national auditor which they occupy, pending the hearing and determination of their substantive suit pending before Justice Ibrahim Buba.
But, while the order was subsisting and the suit pending, the caretaker committee was appointed.
Oladipo, in a statement Tuesday, described the caretaker committee as a group of lawbreakers.
According to him, it was “very wrong” for the committee to take over PDP’s headquarters (also known as Wadata House).
He said: “Sherrif is out of the country and will be back tomorrow (today). The law breakers are in Wadata deceiving themselves. The law will take its course in the next one week.”
Maidugu said the caretaker committee was acting in defiance of subsisting court orders.
“It should be noted that the orders granted by the Federal High Court in Lagos has not been vacated and no appeal has been determined on same. There is an enforcement order granted by the FCT High Court in pursuance of her judgment of the 18th of May 2016
“The Makarfi committee is simply illegal. It was constituted in violation of the two high court rulings,” he said.
Sheriff and Oladipo, through their lawyer Ajibola Oluyede, yesterday sought to move their motion to set aside the order made by Justice M. Liman of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt on May 23, which recognised the caretaker committee.
They are also praying the court to strike out PDP as plaintiff because the caretaker committee lacks the powers to invoke the party’s corporate personality. The defendants are also challenging the court’s jurisdiction.
According to Oluyede, the proceedings were stalled because the plaintiff was not ready with a response to the three applications, which he said were served on them five days ago.
The motion to discharge the order was filed on May 26 and will lapse Thursday (June 9).
Oluyede said the “invasion” of the PDP national headquarters Tuesday by “the illegitimate caretaker committee is an illegality” and will be brought to Justice Buba’s attention when the case comes up Thursday.
The case before Justice Liman was adjourned till June 16 for hearing of all applications and the originating summons.
Sheriff, in a statement Tuesday by his Special Adviser on Media, Inuwa Bwala, said: “Our attention has been drawn to the activities at the National secretariat of the PDP to the effect that some individuals masquerading as leaders have handed over to Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi under a contraption called ‘caretaker committee’.
“We state as a matter of fact that going by proceedings still pending in the courts to the effect that Senator Ali Sheriff remains the National Chairman, whatever transpired was null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
“Sheriff has not mandated anybody, nor was his authority obtained by Uche Secondus, who has been parading himself as acting on behalf of the National Chairman.
“While we await the verdicts of the courts, we wish to state that Senator Ali Modu Sheriff is and remains the National Chairman of the party, until otherwise declared by the courts.
“We allowed the charade to go on at the secretariat without any form of challenge in strict obedience to careful pronouncement on the matter, but we must also state that there is no gathering of groups or individuals, however powerful, such groups or individuals may be, that can be said to take precedence over the law.
“For the avoidance of doubts, we state categorically that what took place at the PDP secretariat on Tuesday June 7, 2016 was a total disregard to court orders and an extension of the impunity for which the party has been accused of and which has taken the party to where it is today. The public should disregard all the actions and pronouncements.”