Barely four hours to the commencement of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, armed policemen has sealed off the Venue of the convention, sources confirmed.
It was gathered that all roads leading to the Old Presidential Lodge and the Deputy Governor Lodge are now blocked with Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC).
The sources added that the Rivers State Government House is “partially sealed”.
They claimed to be obeying Abuja Court Order, which INEC said it had not seen as at yesterday’s night.
NEWSVERGE reports that Justice Okon Abang, of a Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, had suspended the convention stating that the suspension was in the interest of justice to both factions in the party in a suit pending before him and also to curb the excesses of some parties in the suit and to serve as a disciplinary action against those treating the court with levity.
In another ruling, Justice Ibrahim Watila of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, had restrained the police, the Department of State Services and the electoral body from interfering or stopping the Port Harcourt convention.
The injunction, which was also gotten from the court by Senator Ben Obi, also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to supervise the convention.
The court on Monday restrained the Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Director of the Department of State Security Service, (DSS), the Director DSS Rivers State and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from interfering in the conduct of the party’s convention.
Meanwhile, the Abuja Judge held that Senator Obi ‘secretly went to Port Harcourt’ to obtain the said order when he knew he was a party seeking to be joined in the legal action filed by the Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff’s faction.
Sheriff’s faction had filed a case with the court to stop the Port Harcourt convention days after another court upheld his leadership of the PDP.
“Any court of coordinate jurisdiction which makes it a habit to grant ex parte injunctions against decisions made by a sister court is on its own,” he said.
In the case, Senator Sheriff had challenged the legality of the planned PDP convention and requested that the court should stop it on the grounds that it was being organised by a body not known to the law.
After suspending the convention, the court adjourned to the August 16 of for continuation of hearing.
Leadership crisis had deepened in the opposition party in May, after some members of the party removed Senator Sheriff as the party’s chairman and set up a caretaker committee to organise another convention where its principal officers would be elected.
After his removal, Senator Sheriff has continued to lay claims to the leadership of the party, saying that a court had issued an order suspending the convention before it was held.
He has obtained a court ruling upholding his leadership.
On Sunday, however, Senator Sheriff said he had received recommendations from the party’s reconciliation committee, but said he had also made his own demands which he would stand on.
Part of his demands, he said, was for the planned national convention to be shelved while arrangements should be made to hold a convention in Abuja that will be transparent.
After the court in Port Harcourt gave its ruling on Monday, the Ahmed Makarfi’s faction published a statement welcoming Party leaders, delegates, members, supporters, invited guests and observers to the planned National Convention.
In the statement by the Chairman, Publicity Sub-Committee of the National Convention Committee, Onyema Ugochukwu, said that the scheduled National Convention was mainly to elect officers of the Party drawn from the six geo-political zones of Nigeria to fill in the vacant positions that occurred following the Dissolution of national officers due to the expiration of their tenure at the last National Convention on May 21, 2016.
Senator Sheriff has said that the Tenure of the party’s chairman he took over from would end in 2018.
The Makarfi faction believes that the successful outcome of the August 17 National Convention will usher in fresh leaders that will manage the affairs of the opposition party that lost power to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 election after holding power in the centre for 16 years.
They claimed that the party’s fresh leaders would “rescue Nigerians from confusion and strife that the APC led Government has imposed on all of us”.