THERE was high drama on Monday when Senator Ali Modu Sheriff returned to the national headquarters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja to resume duty as its national chairman.
Sheriff said he remained the party boss until 2018 based on a valid court order until court decides otherwise.
The party’s National Caretaker Committee led by former Kaduna State governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, had been working at the secretariat for the last two weeks.
After his three previous attempts to gain access into the Wadata Plaza Wuse national secretariat were rebuffed by policemen stationed to protect the office, he was finally allowed in at the fourth attempt.
He had initially stormed the office at about 7. 15am alongside former National Secretary and former National Auditor, Professor Wale Oladipo and Adewole Adeyanju, respectively; former Special Adviser to the president, Ahmed Gulak and former Minister of State (Finance), Yerima Ngarma, with tens of supporters but were prevented from entering the premises on each of the three occasions he tried.
Denied access, he left left his convoy and drove away in a single car.
It was learnt that he had intended to meet with the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, to find out why he would not be let in.
He returned to the party secretariat at about 11. 28am and his second attempt to go into the office was also resisted by the police.
When his convoyed was denied access the second time, Sheriff came down from his car and approached the most senior officer who was on guard at the gate but all his entreaties to the officer to let him in fell on deaf ears.
He was forced to take refuge under a tree.
Sheriff later made a third attempt to ride into the premises accompanied by Anambra State PDP chieftain, Chris Uba, Oladipo and Adeyanju but was again denied access.
As he tried to drive through the gate, policemen quickly formed a human barricade in front of the iron obstacle at the gate.
The embattled former party boss then ordered his driver to turned the car around and drove off to an unknown destination.
Before his departure at about 12.25pm, he was over heard saying he would return to the party secretariat.
True to his word, Sheriff returned and after a brief altercation with the policemen at the gate, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ciroma Bala, directed that the gate should be opened to allow his convoy in.
Addressing a press conference a short while later, he rubbished the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee which he said was a contraption alien to the party’s constitution.
He explained that he did not bother to come to the party secretariat before now because there was a contrary ex-parte order obtained from a Port Harcourt court which has now expired.
Acknowledging that the PDP was in crisis, he said the party must obey valid orders from the courts, saying that while the court processes were still on, there were a lot of illegalities committed in the party.
He said: “You are all witnesses to the effect that, while the court procedures are still going on, a lot of illegalities; in clear defiance of the law have been taking place in the party, under the guise of a contraption called caretaker Committee.
“I had hoped that, for once, the PDP, which have been accused of promoting impunity and declining lawful orders will purge itself, which informed my decision to obey the courts.
“Permit me to state that lawful pronouncements by courts, no matter how inconvenient they may be are to be obeyed, no matter one’s position. And no person should be seen to be above the pronouncements of competent courts of this country.
“Be that as it may, let me state for the avoidance of doubt, that, beyond the court orders, the PDP operates with a set of laws, which guides the conducts of our affairs.
“I therefore call on everyone to shun all acts that will tend to portray the party as being lawless. We must learn to obey our own laws first before we can hope to provide the desired leadership.
“Against this background, I hereby declare as null void and of no consequence whatsoever, any action taken by any person or group of persons, except by my leadership which is recognized by the law.
“After due consultations with serious minded stakeholders of the party and my lawyers, against the background that have remained committed to lawful procedures, l have come, fully armed with all the necessary court orders to resume as the National Chairman, as directed by a court of competent jurisdiction.”
Sheriff vowed to remain in office saying that he was not interested in becoming the chairman but was begged to take the position.
He said all governors of the party, the Board of Trustees (BoT) and National Executive Committee (NEC) begged him to take up the post and he was subsequently elected after scoring 69 votes during the NEC meeting called for the purpose.
The embattled party boss advised other members of the NWC who had willingly resigned following the Port Harcourt convention to resume work on Tuesday or they would be replaced by their deputies.
Sheriff immediately announced the setting up of screening committee for Edo State gubernatorial primary and named Senator Hope Uzodinma as its head.
He also announced that the cost of expression of interest and nomination forms was now N10million as against N16million for which they were being sold.
Similarly, he said as long as aspirants who may have purchased the forms did so by paying into the party headquarters’ account, the excess would be refunded to them.
When contacted, Makarfi who did not show up at the secretariat on Monday, told the Nigerian Tribune that his committee would give a comprehensive response on the matter on Tuesday.
Source – Tribune