The Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt has ruled that former Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu-Sheriff is the authentic National Chairman of thePeoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Two of the three-man panel of Appeal Court Justices ruled in favour of Modu-Sheriff, holding that the Ahmed Makarfi PDP National Caretaker Committee was illegal and cannot act on behalf of the party.
After losing the 2015 general election, the then PDP National Chairman, Adamu Muazu resigned his position and the party needed to appoint an acting National Chairman from the same geographical zone as the former Chairman pending when a national convention would be held to elect a substantive chairman.
Modu-Sheriff was then appointed, being a chieftain of the party and also from Borno State, which is in the same North East zone as Bauchi State where Muazu hails from.
Later In May 2016, the party organized a National Convention where it was expected that a new National Chairman would be elected. However, Modu-Sheriff later said that the proposed convention had been cancelled and would be held at a later date.
But some members of the PDP, comprising mostly of governors elected on the party’s platform, said that the convention actually held and that Modu-Sheriff had been removed as National Chairman.
They also announced the formation of a National Caretaker Committee,headed by Makarfi, which was saddled with the responsibility of organizing an election to fill vacant positions in the party.
This move split the PDP into two factions; the Modu-Sheriff and the Makarfi factions.Subsequently, both factions initiated separate court cases in different courts, each claiming to be the authentic leadership of the party.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had declared Modu-Sheriff the authentic PDP National Chairman, while another federal high court in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, ruled that the Makarfi-led caretaker committee was the authentic PDP leadership.
The protracted leadership crisis is believed to have played a part in the poor performance of the PDP in the Governorship elections that was held in Edo and Ondo States in September and November 2016 respectively.
Friday’s Appeal Court judgement is expected to put the crisis to rest and set the self-acclaimed biggest political party in Africa on the path of progress once again.