After several failed attempts to gain access into the national secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ali Modu Sheriff, yesterday was allowed into the Wadata Plaza building and he announced he would remain party chairman till 2018.
Addressing a press conference, shortly after taking over, Sheriff said the ex parte injunction issued by a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt that barred him from acting as chairman had lapsed after 14 days.
He announced that the Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee was null and void because it was set up by an illegal convention.
The party, he also said, had set up a committee to organise governorship primaries for Edo State under the Chairmanship of Senator Hope Uzodinma .
Warning members against paying a nomination fee which he said had been reduced to N10 million to the Markarfi-led Caretaker committee, Sheriff said whoever paid to the committee would not be considered.
“There is only one PDP, if anybody goes to buy a form from any omnibus body called caretaker committee they are on their own. PDP has spoken, PDP has only one party and we say our form is N10 million and we say they should go and pay the amount into the party account. If anybody goes and buys from some other body, he is on his own.
“The only people that would be screened are those who show evidence that they paid their N10 million for the form and show to the chairman of the screening committee. People have the right to do whatever they want, I am not forcing anybody.
“In PDP we have agreed that our form is N10 million and payment should he made to the party’s account . Those who said they paid N16 million, to whom was it paid? Did they pay into the party’s account? Fees for nomination forms are not paid into state party’s accounts but to the national party’s account. If the candidates paid to the national party account and present their evidence to the chairman of the screening committee, Sen. Hope Uzodinma, that he was misled to pay N16 million, the balance of N6 million will be refunded,” Sheriff said.
He was also very emphatic on the fate of all members of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) supporting the caretaker committee, pointing out that what they did amounted to a resignation from their positions.
According to Sheriff, the party would give them till today to change their minds and should they fail to embrace his leadership, the party would replace them with their deputies.
Some members of the immediate past National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP had late last month endorsed the dissolution of the NWC as well as other decisions taken at the party’s national convention held in Port Harcourt.
This was contained in a statement jointly signed by the immediate past Deputy National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus and six others.
The statement noted that in the absence of the then National Chairman of the party, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, Secondus presided over the convention in accordance with Sections 33(1)(a), 35(1)(a) and 35(3)(b) of PDP Constitution.
The former NWC members said that as products of the party’s national convention, they accepted without equivocation, all decisions and resolutions of the party at its convention on May 21 in Port Harcourt.
The statement had read in part: “The decision of the national convention dissolving the NWC merely re-echoes our undeniable decision as members of NWC to give up our tenures for congresses and convention to be held in May 2016.
“The National Caretaker Committee, constituted by the National Convention on May 21, is fully within the powers of the National Convention, under Section 33(5)(e) of the party’s constitution.
“We recognise the Sen. Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the PDP and offer the committee all our support and cooperation.”
Other former officers who signed and endorsed the resolutions were the Deputy National Secretary, Mr. Solomon Onwe; National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwon; National Women Leader, Amb. Kema Chikwe, National Youth Leader, Abdullahi Maibasira; National Financial Secretary, Bolaji Anani, and National Treasurer, Alhaji Buhari Bala.
Meanwhile, Markarfi’s Caretaker Committee has reserved its comments on the takeover of the party by Sheriff till today.
Speaking in a telephone interview, the national publicity secretary, Dayo Adeyeye , said his committee would study the trends of events until today when the facts would have become very clear.
Men of the Nigeria Police Force had earlier yesterday prevented Sheriff from gaining access to the secretariat.
Accompanied by former PDP national secretary and national auditor, Wale Oladipo and Adewole Adeyanju respectively, and dozens of youths, Sheriff had arrived at the secretariat as early as 7:25 a.m.
But on getting to the gate, he was prevented from entering by a team of policemen deployed to man the gate. Not satisfied, Sheriff made a series of telephone calls apparently in a bid to gain access to the secretariat but eventually had to leave the secretariat for an unknown destination.
Deputy Police Commissioner, Chiroma Bala, who led the team of policemen to stop Sheriff from entering the secretariat of the PDP did not mince words in telling him that there was no permission to allow the former PDP national chairman access to the secretariat.
At a time, Sheriff was heard telling the police officer that the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, was not opposed to his gaining access to the secretariat because, according to him, he Sheriff, remained the substantive chairman of the party.
As the exchange between Sheriff and the police officers continued, the crowd of youths that accompanied him to the secretariat kept beating drums and chanting pro-Sheriff songs.
After two and a half hours of a failed attempt to persuade the police to allow him enter the secretariat, Sheriff left the location at exactly 9:35 a.m.
When Sheriff came back about 12 noon for a second attempt at gaining access to the secretariat, he met a similar brick wall. As he made his way towards the gate, the policemen quickly formed a line to block his movement.
Sheriff then said the IGP had given him permission to enter the secretariat, but the policemen informed him that the gate would not be opened for him until all the young men he brought were sent away.
Disappointed again, Sheriff left the scorching sun and moved to take cover under one of the trees around the secretariat. After 25 minutes of consultation with his men under the tree, Sheriff left with his convoy of cars without announcing his destination.
It was later discovered that he went to the PDP presidential campaign office located along Shehu Shagari Way in Maitama, Abuja where he easily gained access.
His last and successful attempt was at 1:20 p.m. At that time, the team of policemen had been withdrawn from the gate. (The Guardian)