Sheriff seeks jail term for Makarfi, others, alleges contempt of court

By Tom Amakri, Port Harcourt

The court affirmed National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has asked the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to jail his arch rival, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, and some of his loyalists.

Apart from Makarfi, Sheriff also listed three other prominent factional leaders of the party as those to be jailed by the appellate court.

Sheriff and the National Secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, accused Makarfi and others of flouting the order of the court, which was delivered on February 17, 2017.

The court, in the judgment, had pronounced Sheriff as the national chairman of the party while it also upheld that Oladipo remained its national secretary.

Apart from Makarfi, others named as alleged contemnors are the two other members of the sacked National Caretaker Committees, Senator Ben Obi (secretary) and Mr. Dayo Adeyeye (the interim publicity secretary).

He also listed a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, among the alleged contemnors.

Sheriff, in suit number APPEAL NO: CA/PH/349/2016, asked the court to commit the four persons to prison for one year over the alleged contempt.

Apart from the four named above, the PDP national chairman also listed a former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha; a former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana; Chairman, Board of Trustees of the party, Senator Walid Jibrin; and an aspirant to the office of the party’s national chairman, Chief Bode George, as alleged contemnors.

However, he did not pray the court to commit Ihedioha, Gana, Jibrin and George to prison, rather, he asked the court for an order restraining them from “proclaiming or otherwise holding out to the public that the 1st to 3rd  alleged contemnors are national  officers of the PDP for any purpose whatsoever.”
Listed as defendants in the case are the PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Inspector-General of Police and the Department of State Services.

The duo asked the court to stop Makarfi and his group from parading themselves as national officers of the party.

They also asked the court to direct the IGP and the DSS to close down the factional secretariat being operated by the Makarfi group.

Apart from that, they also asked the court not to transmit the records of the court proceedings to Markarfi and his group, saying they didn’t have the permission of the party to get it.

Oladipo, who signed an affidavit in support of the claim, stated that on February 17, “soon after the judgment was delivered, the alleged contemnors proceeded to address the media and to comment negatively, contemptuously, disparagingly and contumeliously on the findings and order of the court set out above.”

He added, “Rather than accept that the justice of the matter as determined by this honourable court was as expressed in the findings, holdings and order set out above, the 4th to 8th Alleged Contemnors made statements encouraging the 1st to 3rd respondents to defy the order of the court and flout the purpose of the court’s judgment delivered on the 17th of February 2017.”

He said it was on this basis that the alleged contemnors placed notices in newspapers, where they convened a meeting of what they called “PDP stakeholders.”

He stated, “The said meeting was held on Monday, February 20, and was attended by the 4th to 8th alleged contemnors, who made further statements encouraging the 1st to 3rd alleged contemnors to defy the holdings and order of the court.”

The motion on notice for the committal of the alleged  contemnors was filed by eight lawyers, led by a former Minister of Justice, Akin Olujimi (SAN), who was joined by two other SANs – Dr. Alex Izinyon  and B. E. Nwofor – among others.

The lawyers said, “The actions of the alleged contemnors, as shown in the affidavit in support of this application, have the effort of flouting the purpose of the judgment of this Honourable court, which purpose is to properly regulate the exercise of powers by the alleged contemnors against the applicants and 1st Respondent; avoid any further anarchy, lawlessness and deepening crisis capable of heating up the Nigerian polity; and establish the requirements of the rule of law and due process in the administration of justice.

“Although the alleged contemnors were not parties to the action in court, it is our humble submission that they have a responsibility to ensure that they do not aid and abet the disobedience of the judgment order or treat the said judgment with disdain and disrespect.”

Markarfi and the other faction of the party are believed to have filed an application seeking for stay of execution of the judgment and leave for appeal.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of Sheriff’s case, which was filed on February 24, 2017.?

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