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To many Nigerians, especially, the lovers and supporters of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, there is a question on their lips; how did the Labour Party find itself in this sophisticated messy crisis.?
The crises are hydra-headed and multifaceted dragging the party, which was the cynosure of eyes a few months ago into a bottomless pit.
Labour Party which emerged as the third force in the build-up to the 2023 elections after a former Anambra state governor, Peter Obi picked the presidential ticket has been enmeshed in a leadership turmoil.
The self-inflicted crises have started threatening to uproot the party from the foundation which might affect the presidential’s petition of the party already before the Election Petition Court.
Barring any last minutes resolution of the crises, the Labour Party which gave the ‘big brother’ parties – All Progressives Congress and the People’s Democratic Party sleepless nights during the last election is being overwhelmed by the internal wrangling.
Remarkably, the Labour Party broke the jinx as the no-go areas such as Lagos, and Abia ab initio, were dared and conquered.
In South West, the party won in Osun, Lagos, the home-based of the Jagaban of Borgu, the APC candidate, Bola Tinubu during the presidential election and won the Abia governorship election.
The Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, is challenging the results of the 25 February election in 21 of the 36 states in Nigeria.
PLATFORM TIMES gathered that Obi won 11 states as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But, the crises seem to be threatening to consume the hard-earned victories in the eleven states declared by the INEC following the court orders.
The latest development in the party was that the Labour Party now parades three national chairmen.
While Julius Abure claims to have come back after his suspension, deputy national chairman of the party (south), Lamidi Apapa insists that he is the authentic chairman and to worsen the matter, a former Deputy Chairman of the party, Callistus Okafor, has asked the Supreme Court to pronounce him the substantive chair of the party.
Okafor made the shocking disclosure, saying, both Julius Abure and Apapa are “fake” chairmen.
He said Apapa, the acting chair could not emerge in illegality, as his “emergence would have been better if there was no consent judgment”.
He added that with the consent judgment, Abure is an illegal LP chairman.
Okafor said: “I am the only acting national chairman of the Labour Party. Every other person parading himself as such is fake. Lamidi Apapa and Abure are both fake”.
“Let everybody know that I approached the Supreme Court of Nigeria on Thursday, May 18, and prayed to the apex court to declare Abure’s LP chairmanship claims, illegal.
“I have drawn the attention of the court to the fact that the acting secretary of the LP, based on the party’s constitution, cannot emerge as the Chairman.
“I have also asked the supreme court to declare null and void and of no effect, whatever Abure has done in his so-called capacity as the chairman of the LP.
“I specifically drew the attention of the honourable justices of the apex court to the fact that Abure has conducted an illegal convention and primaries for LP which he has no legal power to do.
“I have also asked the court to recognise my party’s membership list because the list is with me and could be verified.”
APC’s Remote Control of Labour Party Uncovered
PLATFORM TIMES gathered that the crisis rocking the Labour Party was linked to the handiwork of the APC.
In fact, in one of his Twitter posts former aide to former president Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri had claimed that the Labour Party platform was provided remotely for Peter Obi to contest for presidency by APC candidate, Bola Tinubu.
Omokri who claimed further that Tinubu used. one of his long-time friends, and backed it up with pictures of three men, asking Nigerians to guess who it could be.
Pat Utomi and two others were in the picture shared by Omokri, claiming that a powerful plan was made for Obi to run against the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and followed it with a lot of funds.
Omokri made a jest of Obi of being the candidate of Tinubu without him knowing.
But, the Labour Party and Obi had denied working for anybody.
It was also raised that the APC might have penetrated the Labour Party through the suspended National Acting Publicity Secretary, Abayomi Arabambi to destroy the petition against the victory of Tinubu.
A source in the party hinted to PLATFORM TIMES that a copy of the party’ register is with the APC which it intends to tender before the tribunal against the petition of Obi.
There was a hot argument recently on whether there was a purported letter written by Arabambi group asking the court to dismiss Obi’s petition.
The Abure’s faction, acting on the Intel, wrote the court, warning against any letter asking the tribunal to strike out the petition.
The allegation, the other faction has denied.
Who Owns the Labour Party Petition
Three factions are laying claims to the party. This development, PLATFORM TIMES observed might jeopardize the chances of Obi at the tribunal.
From the findings, Obi prefers Abure but does not trust both Apapa and Okafor and had been supporting Abure as the chairman.
According to the Electoral Act (amended), political parties are empowered to sponsor petitions at the tribunal and not the candidates.
While the candidate can be a party to the petition. The case of the New Nigeria Peoples Party in Ogun State where the governorship candidate failed in his bid to change the counsel of the party.
The tribunal in the state ruled in favour of the party and insisted that the party owns the petition.
Abure, Three Others In Forgery Scandal
April 5, the crisis bedeviling the Labour Party became messier as the Federal High Court in Abuja issued an order restraining the Labour Party’s National Chairman, Julius Abure, the party’s Secretary, Farouk Ibrahim, and two others from acting as the party’s national officials.
The Federal High Court also extended the order to the National Organising Secretary, Clement Ojukwu, and the Treasurer, Oluchi Opara.
Abure and other party leaders were accused of forging several documents from the FCT High Court to carry out substitutions before the last general elections.
According to the ex-parte application argued by one James Onoja, Abure and his team forged receipts, seals, and affidavits from the Court.
The Judge then ordered that the four individuals cease acting as national officers of the Labour Party forthwith.
On May 5, in a counter move, Abure and three others approach the Edo State High Court sitting in Benin City praying the court to restrain the LP from implementing the suspension issued by some of its party members till the determination of a motion on notice.
In an ex-parte motion, Justice Emmanuel Ahamioje issued a restraining order, while ruling in an ex-parte application filed by George Igbokwe (SAN).
Abure and three others against Labour Party and two others, the claimants, among other relief, sought and prayed for an order of interim injunction “restraining Labour Party (third defendants) from acting or executing and/or implementing the purported notice of suspension issued by the first and the second defendants over the subject matter of this suit, pending the determination of the motion on notice.
Accordingly, I hereby make an order of interim injunction restraining the Labour Party from acting on, executing, and implementing the purported notice of suspension issued by the first and the second defendants over the subject matter of this suit pending the determination of the motion on notice.”
Apapa Takes Over Party Leadership
Twenty-four hours after the FCT High Court granted the ex-parte order, restraining Abure and three others, a faction of the party sacked the embattled national chairman.
The faction held an emergency National Working Committee (NWC) meeting presided over by the Deputy National Chairman of the party (South), Mr. Lamidi Apapa
Apapa, expectedly, declared that he was in charge since a court had restrained Abure and three others from parading themselves as national officers of the party.
Swiftly, the faction reinstated the Executive Council members from Ogun, Rivers, and Gombe earlier sacked by the Abure-led faction.
During the meeting, Lamidi also reversed the suspension of Eragbe Anslem as the National Youth Leader and Yomi Arabambi as the National Publicity Secretary.
However, in an earlier statement, the embattled Abure said that thugs broke into LP national headquarters and chased away workers.
According to him, a detachment of the Police accompanied the thugs believed to be working for the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“The invaders who are armed reportedly pulled down the fences, burglaries, doors, and window to have access to our Secretariat and in the process sacked workers and party members who were at the Secretariat.
“Though, I was out of town information has it that the agenda of the invaders was to inaugurate an illegitimate executive which has been chosen for them by their sponsors. This incident is coming days after a similar invasion in our Imo state Secretariat which up till now is still being occupied by the agents of the Imo state government.
“Labour Party is only a political party which is contesting for power. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has conducted the election and ranked us third, a position we have rejected and have approached the Tribunal to contest. That is our only offense.
“We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari to call his party, the APC to order and also rein them in from using unorthodox means to suffocate political structures in Nigeria.
Director General of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council, Akin Osuntokun, has blamed the judiciary for the crisis currently rocking the opposition party.
He said the judgment by Justice Hamza Muazu of a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court ordering LP’s National Chairman, Julius Abure, and others to stop parading themselves as officers engendered the infighting.
Osuntokun maintained that the judge had the option of retaining the chairman, while the case goes on, adding: “But he rather chose an option, showing that he was setting the party up for crisis.”
He reiterated that Abure enjoys the support of all members, deploring anti-party activities of the factional chairman, Lamidi Apapa.
“Nothing is going on (in the Labour Party) other than the crisis of the judiciary. It is a judge, the judiciary that made a judgment that is now responsible for creating a crisis in the Labour Party.
“There was a judge here, who in his discretion, said Abure, who has been chairman from the primaries of the presidential candidate, for the governorship, candidates for the National Assembly and State of Assemblies, should no longer parade himself as chairman, what do you make of that?
“Look at who and who brought the case to him? The judge is a Nigerian. He should have made a more logical position at his discretion.
“Does it mean that if a clerk brings a matter to the court against the Labour Party, he would pass judgment based on that?”
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