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Supreme Court Reserves Judgment Over PDP Leadership Tussle

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The Supreme Court on Monday reserved judgment on appeal challenging the affirmation of Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff as National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, who presided, reserved the judgment after counsel to parties adopted their written addresses.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that Sen. Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee of the party had on March 16, filed the appeal against Sheriff’s position.

The Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt on Feb. 27 declared Sheriff as the legitimate national chairman of the party.

Earlier, the five- panel of justices dismissed the application filed by Sheriff to stop the apex court from hearing Makarfi’s appeal.

At the resumed hearing, Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), counsel to Sheriff argued that Makarfi’s appeal was an abuse of court process.

According to him, Makarfi fails to seek the leave of court before filing the application.

Olujimi also submitted that the Makarfi’s faction seized to be recognised following the court of appeal’s judgment.

He said his client, who was the legitimate national chairman of the party had not authorised anybody to file the appeal on behalf of the party.

In the light of the arguments, Olujimi prayed the court to dismiss the appeal forthwith.

Chief Wole Olanikpekun (SAN), however, prayed the court to disregard the argument advanced by Sheriff’s counsel, adding that the submissions were baseless.

In his ruling, the CJN held that all valid appeals before the court on the matter must be heard.

“The rules mandate the appeals to be filed within three months in this court after the appeal court judgment.

“ The application in question was so filed within the period and as such is deemed filed,’’ he said.

NAN reports that the dismissal of Sheriff’s application by the court paved the way for the adoption of the written addresses by counsel to parties.

Counsel to Makarfi in adopting his client’s address argued that the lower court erred in law to have affirmed Sheriff as the national chairman of the party.

He said that Sheriff was not elected at convention of the party, but was nominated to act as the chairman of the party within a specified period.

“My Lord, it is known to all party members including Sheriff that his tenure to act had long expired before Makarfi was made to head the caretaker committee to oversee the workings of the party.

“I therefore pray the court to re-write this wrong precedence set by the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt and upturn the decision.

“The election of officers of political parties is strictly the prerogatives of the political parties and not that of the court,’’ he said.

On his part, counsel to Sheriff urged the court to discountenance Olanipekun’s submission, adding that Sheriff was duly made the acting chairman of the party.

He argued that the party’s convention that had the power to elect a new chairman and other officers of the party in Port Harcourt never held as planned.

Olujimi further said the decision of the lower court was apt as no official step within the party machinery had removed Sheriff from office. (NAN)

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