The Supreme Court has fixed May 4 for the continuation of hearing in appeals concerning the ongoing leadership crisis of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The apex court gave the date on Thursday, after listening to counsel’s arguments in the appeals challenging the February 17judgement of the Appeal Court which confirmed former Borno State governor, Ali Sheriff, as leader of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
Mr. Sheriff’s challenger for leadership of the party, Ahmed Makarfi, had approached the Supreme Court after the ruling by the Port Harcourt Division of appellate court, starting the final phase of the judicial battle for the PDP leadership that has lasted almost a year.
The judicial struggle began on May, 17 2016 when a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court ordered the party to suspend its national convention earlier scheduled to hold on May 21 that year.
Contrary to that order, however, the PDP held its convention, amidst conflicting information from the Makarfi and Sheriff led factions of the party, respectively, regarding the said convention.
During the convention on May 21, Mr. Makarfi was elected leader of the caretaker committee of the party.
Shortly after that convention, however, loyalist of the Sheriff faction filed a motion before the Federal High Court, FHC, in Lagos, challenging the emergence of Mr. Makarfi as leader of the party.
Consequently on May 24, the court presided by Justice Ibrahim Buba nullified the emergence of the Makarfi-led leadership of the party, and reinstated Mr. Sheriff as leader of the party
After that judgement, other judgements emanating from separate divisions of the FHC, gave controversial rulings on the convention.
In February, however, the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt announced Mr. Sheriff leader of the party, paving the way for the suit at the Supreme Court.
On Thursday, at the commencement of hearing in Mr. Makarfi’s application, the counsel representing the Sheriff faction, Akin Olujimi, said his client (PDP) was not aware of any application, challenging the emergence of the current leadership of the party.
He, however, prayed the court to set aside the application, stressing that ‘the appropriate authorities to have made the said application have not decided to appeal.”
The counsel representing the second defendant in Mr. Sheriff’s appeal aligned with Mr. Olijimi’s submission.
The counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, said his client, the National Secretary of the party from Mr. Sheriff’s faction, Wale Oladipo, would want the court to set aside the application made by Mr. Makarfi’s counsel, Kanu Agabi, stressing that the appellant had no authorisation to have made the said application.
He also prayed the court to determine the application by the Sheriff faction, before hearing the main appeal by the faction led by Mr. Makarfi.
In his response, Mr. Agabi, a former attorney general of Nigeria, said the respondents should make the submissions written.
Mr. Olujimi had prayed the court to allow them make their submissions within a period of 21 days. So, after hearing the arguments of counsel, the panel of five justices, led by Mohammed Tanko, adjourned to May 4 for hearing of the appeals by the Sheriff-led faction.