By Peter OSSAI, Abuja
Solution Party, SP, Seeks INEC Registration
Barring any further adjournments, the two Federal High Courts in Lagos and Port Harcourt, which gave contradictory orders on the leadership crisis bedeviling the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, will make definite pronouncements on the matters before them.
Our correspondent reports that, the courts have given Tuesday the 7th and Thursday the 9th of June as date to rule on the applications before them, one of which gave legitimacy to the National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the leader, while the other recognized a Caretaker committee, put in place at the instance of some governors in the party, headed by Ahmed Makarfi.
When eventually ruled upon, the tension generated in the party since its botched convention in Port Harcourt on May 21st may be put to rest, paving way for the reconciliatory moves promised by each of the warring parties as the way forward.
It may be recalled that the convention of the party was put off by the Chairman of the Convention who is also the National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, citing plethora of court restraints, including a full judgment, to the effect that, certain national offices in the party will not be vacant for elections into them until 2017 and 2018.
Some members of the National working committee had approached the courts arguing that their tenures will not expire until 2017, and obtained judgment to that effect, and in another development, the federal High Court in Lagos had also ruled shortly before the botched convention that the offices of the national Chairman, National Secretary and National Auditor will not also be vacant until 2018.
Relying upon these and after due consultations on the necessity or not to go ahead with the convention, which was slated to be elective, senator Sheriff addressed a Press conference in the morning of the planned convention, putting off the exercise until the matters in the courts are addressed.
Sheriff who also received a letter from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, intimating him that they will not supervise elections into the offices cited by the courts at the convention, even if it had gone ahead, argued that, it will be better to play safe and project the PDP as law abiding by putting off the convention.
Apparently not impressed with Sheriff’s obedience to the court orders, Governors of the party, who have been scheming to hijack its operations invited people to the Sharks stadium in Port Harcourt, where they purportedly dissolved the National Working Committee, and put in place a Caretaker Committee, headed by former Kaduna State Governor, Ahmed Makarfi: knowing that there is no provision for a caretaker committee in the constitution of the PDP.
In a seeming judicial drama, another federal high Court in Port Harcourt, ostensibly not aware of the earlier ruling by a court of coordinate jurisdiction in Lagos, went on to confer recognition to the Caretaker Committee led by Makarfi, and restraining Sheriff from carrying out his official functions.
The decision has since been challenged by Sheriff to the effect that the Port Harcourt court was duely notified of the possible consequences of his orders to the integrity of the high Court in the matter, as well as the fact that Caretaker committee is an aberration in the PDP, and there was no convention in Port Harcourt as such.
While this drama was unfolding in Port Harcourt, a quasi political gathering was also taking place in Abuja which came up with the same caretaker committee contraption, with Senator Ibrahim Mantu as its caretaker Chairman. This group which sole agenda was to stop Sheriff from becoming Chairman, if the Port Harcourt convention were to hold, was equally laying claim to the party leadership.
Following these developments, there was so much apprehension amongst party members that, the PDP may be heading for an implosion, given that the crisis this time around poses real threats to its cohesion.
The Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase had in apparent fear of the breakdown of law and order, should all parties meet at the PDP secretariat cordoned off the office, but later went against his orders by allowing some party members to enter the building and held a meeting, even as non functional organs of the party.
But even before the court verdicts, legal luminaries gave it to sheriff for the mere facts that the courts had earlier ruled that his tenure subsists till 2019 and that there is no provision for a caretaker in the PDP constitution. This they also argue against the fact that the process that brought about the caretaker contraption was flawed as the convention at which they were purportedly appointed had earlier been put off. The court resort in Port Harcourt may as well be a face saving move, Ahmed Gulak, one of the lawyers argued.
In the meantime, against permutations that some new political parties may be in the offing as a fall back for some aggrieved party members, Solution Party, SP, has applied to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC seeking to be registere4d as a political party.
Our correspondent stumbled upon their letter of application and a draft constitution on Sunday evening, and reports that while there may be no visible hands behind SP, its interim leaders comprises of young technocrats, most of whom are still in government service.
A source in the new party told us that some of the governors in the embattled PDP have approached them for possible partnership in 2019, even as one of the south West Governors has pledged to pick the bills for the party’s registration and office accommodation.