Sheriff, Makarfi in hot exchange as PDP peace pact collapses

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Few days after reaching an understanding to bury their differences, the two factions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have renewed hostilities.

Ali Modu Sheriff
Ali Modu Sheriff

The cause of the latest crisis is the decision of Ali Modu Sheriff, national chairman of the party, to replace staff of the PDP secretariat who were not cooperating with him.

Sheriff had declared their jobs vacant and gave them a seven-day ultimatum to return the property of the party in their possession.

But Ahmed Makarfi, caretaker committee chairman, asked the old staff to ignore Sheriff’s threat.

“His threat against our hard working staff should therefore be ignored and treated with utmost contempt coming from a lawless impostor,” said Dayo Adeyeye, the publicity secretary, who responded on behalf of the Makarfi group.

On Thursday, Sheriff and Makarfi signed an undertaking with the PDP national reconciliation committee, led by Seriake Dickson, governor of Bayelsa state, to cease fire.

They both pledged to work together for the restoration of genuine peace to the party.

But on Sunday, Sheriff described Makarfi committee as illegal, saying with the pronouncement of the court of appeal in Port Harcourt, on February 17, “such a group is not supposed to be in existence”.

He appealed to the media not to refer to Makarfi group as a faction of the PDP and insisted that the group was illegal.

Sheriff also warned Makarfi and his group to stop interfering in the affairs of the party.

“Makarfi should behave himself. He should not interfere in our business, because we are not interested in his private business,” Sheriff said in a statement issued on his behalf by Cairo Ojuogboh, his deputy.

“Any further careless statement from him will force us to reconsider our earlier peace agreement.

“We have already employed staff who are running the bureaucracy efficiently. If Makarfi so desires, he should keep the old staff, just as he is doing now.

“We have had enough and enough is enough of this.”

He added that his faction was preparing to complete state congresses, where necessary, and “working hard” on the planned national convention.

“We will not be distracted by inconsequential issues from our set objective to return the party to the grassroots,” he said.

“We must prevent anybody with the agenda of killing the party, especially those, who were brought to the party by those, who have already decamped to other parties.”

Sheriff warned the old PDP staff, who still have the party’s property in their possession, to return them immediately.

“They should return them within the seven days grace or we will be left with no other option than to hand them over to the police,” Sheriff said.

But the Makarfi group which described Sheriff as “a lawless impostor”, urged the staff and party stakeholders to ignore him.

“We went out of our way few days ago to reach accommodation with them even when some of our top leaders had serious misgivings about any type of talk with them given their unreliability,” Makarfi said.

He said his committee showed its goodwill, while Sheriff-led national working committee (NWC) demonstrated their “bad faith”.

“We have always known that Sheriff and his co-travellers especially, Cairo Ojuogbo, were never men of honour with whom one can reach any agreement,” he said.

“But we tagged along to avoid being accused of unnecessary intransigence.

“Since the leopard cannot change its spot, it is now very clear that no agreement or political solution can be reached with these bunch of people with huge integrity deficit.”

He described Ojougboh as an impostor and a rabble-rouser in a “non-existent NWC”, saying Sheriff does not have the constitutional requirement to constitute an NWC.

“His threat against our hard working staff should therefore be ignored and treated with utmost contempt coming from a lawless impostor,” he said.

“For the education of Sheriff and his cohorts, our appeal at the supreme court is already on.

“To that extent, the position and status of the national caretaker committee remains completely unaltered.

“Since they cannot comprehend even very simple matters, we will use a simple analogy.

“If a governor loses at the election petitions tribunal and at the court of appeal, does he cease to be a governor even when his appeal is pending before the supreme court?

“Would the civil servants then refuse to serve him?”

He explained that the position of the law was that he would remain the governor.

He added that all government employees would continue to service his government until otherwise determined by the supreme court.

Makarfi added that his committee members had tried strenuously to reach Dickson to report “this deliberate violation of the truce” but that they were not able to get through to him.

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