THE National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Sheriff, has applied to the Supreme Court seeking to stop the appeal lodged by the National Caretaker Committee of the party led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi over the recent Port Harcourt Division Court of Appeal judgment.
The Caretaker Committee is appealing the judgment which ordered the party to revert to status quo ante May 21, 2016, effectively restoring Sheriff-led National Working Committee (NWC) as the authentic national leadership of the party.
But Sheriff has now applied to the Supreme Court for the withdrawal of the appeal filed in the name of the National Caretaker Committee.
The appeal with number SC.133/2017 was filed on February 27, 2017, in the name of the PDP.
In their motion filed by Sheriff’s counsel, Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi (SAN), on March 16, 2017 for discontinuance of the appeal before the Supreme Court, Sheriff and his National Secretary, Prof Wale Oladipo, argued, among others, that no ground of law supported the appeal.
The motion stated that more by virtue of the Court of Appeal’s judgment, Makarfi and other members of his faction were not the alter ego of the party and such were incompetent to institute any legal process in the name of the party.
It argued that Makarfi, the Secretary of the caretaker committee, Senator Ben Obi and the National Publicity Secretary of the group, Dayo Adeyeye could continue to act in any capacity as the representative of the party.
The court paper read in part, “More importantly, however, the persons who have instigated the filing of the appeal and instructed lawyers to act for the appellant (namely Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Senator Ben Obi, and Mr Dayo Adeyeye, who continue to style and parade themselves as the ‘National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party’) do not have the authority or power to do so.
“Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Senator Ben Obi and Mr Adeyeye, who seek to hide behind corporate veil of the PDP are, in fact, doing so in furtherance of disregard of the judgment of the lower court which clearly amounts to exposing the administration of justice to disrepute and public odium as evidenced by their utterances against the justices of the lower court after the delivery of the judgment of the lower court.
“The corporate personality of the appellant can only be invoked by its legal alter ego, vide the National Working Committee/National Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, consisting of the first and second respondents (Sheriff and Oladipo) and other officers represented by them, not Senators Ahmed Makarfi, Senator Ben Obi, and Mr. Adeyeye who are not officers of the appellant (the PDP) at all, as confirmed by the judgment of the lower court.”
Oladipo deposed to an affidavit filed in support of the motion, stating that a letter had been written to Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), to stop acting as counsel for the PDP, adding that the duo of Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Dr Alex Iziyon (SAN) had been appointed in his (Olanipekun’s) stead.
The affidavit stated in part, “The appropriate alter ego of the appellant and its moving minds (as authorised by the Constitution of the party and confirmed by the judgment and express order of the lower court, which required that parties revert to status quo as at the May 27, 2016, have now directed that a notice of discontinuance of this appeal be filed and instructed Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Dr Alex Iziyon (SAN) to act as counsel for the appellant (PDP) to effect the will of the appellant as expressed in the said notice of discontinuance.
“Copies of the constitution of the appellant and letters of instruction to Prince Fagbemi (SAN) and Dr. Iziyon (SAN) are attached hereto as Exhibits AS 12, 13 and 14 respectively.
“I also know that as a fact that a letter was also written to Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) requiring him to stop acting as counsel for the Peoples Democratic Party as he was never authorised by the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party appeal.
“The said Senators Makarfi, Obi and Mr Adeyeye have so demonstrated disrespect for the judicial process and rejudged the proceedings before this honourable court by their utterances.
“I know as a fact that the Peoples Democratic Party has not authorised anyone, including Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) to file any appeal against the judgment of the lower court delivered on February 17, 2017.”
Those listed as Respondents to the appeal by the Makarfi-led faction’s PDP are Sheriff, Oladipo, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Inspector-General of Police and the Department of State Security (DSS).