FREEPRESS – The National Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party in Abuja, on Tuesday, agreed to set up a Standing Disciplinary Committee for its erring members.
The need to set up the committee was said to be the outcome of what a source described as “fierce arguments” by members of NEC following the 14-month crisis in the party, which ended recently with the judgment of the Supreme Court.
Before the NEC meeting was held, members of the party’s Expanded National Caucus, National Caucus and the Board of Trustees had met.
Our correspondent gathered that decisions reached at these three meetings were brought to the NEC and debated by members before conclusions were reached.
Apart from the disciplinary committee, the NEC also agreed to set up a Standing Reconciliation Committee.
Spokesperson for the party, Dayo Adeyeye, said these were part of the decisions taken at the 74th NEC meeting, which was held at the party’s national secretariat.
It was gathered that majority members of the NEC voted for the establishment of the two committees, especially disciplinary committee.
The members, according to some members of NEC, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, insisted that the former National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, and his followers be sanctioned for the roles they allegedly played in the 14-month crisis that rocked the party.
Freepress had reported on Tuesday that the national leadership of the party was under pressure to sanction Sheriff and his group.
Apart from Sheriff, those likely to be drawn before the proposed committee, include a former National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo; the Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, and the acting National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Bernard Mikko.
It was gathered that some members of the past National Working Committee also played important and what a prominent member of the party described as “strategic roles in the Sheriff camp.”
Some of the identified members were said to have started making overtures to the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led national caretaker committee.
Apart from that, they were said to have attended the Expanded National Caucus meeting of the party on Monday night in Abuja.
Though Adeyeye was not specific about those to be invited by the disciplinary committee when it is inaugurated, he alluded to the fact that the last crisis necessitated the need to set it up.
He said, “People know that this party was rocked by very terrible disciplinary issues which nearly brought the party down completely.
“NEC decided to set up standing Disciplinary and Reconciliation committees; and the National Caretaker Committee has been directed to establish and inaugurate these committees immediately.”
The former Minister of State for Works did not say when the two committees would be inaugurated.
He also said that the meeting agreed that the party should hold its national convention on August 12, at Abuja.
He, however, stated that the convention would be non-elective.
Adeyeye said this was because the party needed to give the statutory 21 working days notice to the Independent National Electoral Commission, adding that the party members also needed a reasonable notice.
He said this would not be possible because the tenure of the present members of the caretaker committee would expire on August 16.
It was however gathered that the convention would extend the tenure of the caretaker committee and might also fix a date for the national convention, where new national officers would be elected.
He said, “We took a decision on the national convention. So, the prolonged litigation of the national leadership tussle ended only last week on July 12 when the Supreme Court gave judgment in favour of the National Caretaker Committee, leaving barely one month for the conduct of proper elective national convention.
“Taking into account the relevant statutory notice that we need to give to INEC and the requirements of the PDP Constitution 2012 (as amended), practically, it is going to be impossible to have an elective national convention before August 16 because we need to give certain statutory notices to INEC.
“And our own has some special provisions that we have to meet and there’s no time to meet up with those provisions.
“Therefore, NEC took a decision that in view of all the circumstances, NEC invoking the powers conferred on it, decided to convene non-elective national convention on August 12, 2017 in Abuja.”
On the removal of state caretaker committees, Adeyeye said those that were sacked by Sheriff, when the Court of Appeal gave a judgment in his favour on February 17, had been directed to return to office.
The PDP spokesman added, “All state caretaker committees and state parallel executives, set up after the Court of Appeal judgment of February 17, 2017 at Port Harcourt, had been removed and replaced by the duly elected officials in the affected states.”
Adeyeye disclosed that the meeting took a decision on constitution amendment, which he said would affect those to be elected at the national convention later in the year.
Meanwhile, Sheriff has said he was not invited to any of the four meetings.
Sheriff, who was reacting to some reports that he was absent from the caucus meeting, appealed to members of his camp not to leave the PDP.
He said this through the former spokesmen for his National Working Committee, Bernard Mikko, adding that he would address a world press conference on the way forward, after studying the Supreme Court judgment that removed him from office.
Mikko stated that Sheriff was neither in the country nor invited to the meeting at Wadata Plaza on Monday evening.
He said, “However, he will address a world press conference on the way forward after we have received and studied the full judgment of the Supreme Court and analysed its import on our democracy.
“We therefore appeal to all our loyal supporters nationwide not to defect as we are still committed to bringing the party back to the grass roots.
“We assure them that we will not only give them a voice, but they will also be heard. We will collaborate with global anti-corruption networks to bring all corrupt politicians in Nigeria to book, including the PDP members having criminal cases bordering on dishonesty and malfeasance.”