Confusion As Abure, Apapa Differ Over Appeal Court Ruling On LP Chairmanship
The leadership crisis in the Labour Party (LP) has grown worse following confusion over who the authentic national chairman of the party is.
Following a court ruling on Thursday, both Lamidi Apapa and Julius Abure, who are factional leaders of the party are claiming to be the chairperson of the LP.
Apapa, who spoke in Abuja at a press conference, said the judgement of the court of appeal in Owerri, Imo state capital, had affirmed him as the authentic national chairman of the party.
He said the court also sacked the Julius Abure-led faction and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise governorship candidates produced by his faction for the November 11 election.
“ You will recall that on April 5 the FCT High Court restrained Abure and others from parading themselves as national officers of the party,” Apapa said.
“As a result, the party appointed the Deputy National Chairman Alhaji Lamidi Apapa as the acting national chairman of the party pursuant to its constitution.
“Sequel to that the party under my leadership wrote to INEC changing its date of primary election earlier scheduled by Abure from April 15 to April 16.
Apapa said while Abure was under a restraining order, he went ahead to conduct primary elections in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa states ahead of the governorship poll.
Apapa said his faction conducted primaries on April 16 making it two primaries conducted by the LP in the states.
“Peeved by the primary conducted by me, a candidate who participated in the Abure primary took my candidate to court whilst maintaining that Abure’s candidates were the authentic ones,” he said.
“The case was frantically defended, and the Federal High court, Owerri Division, declared the primaries conducted by me as the authentic candidate as Abure was under a restraining order as at the time he screened candidates and conducted his primaries.”
Apapa said the court recognised him as the authentic chairman of the party.
Also, speaking on Lunchtime Politics, a Channels Television programme on Thursday, Monday Mawah, a counsel to the LP, said the court of appeal in Edo did not affirm Abure as chairman of the party but ruled that his suspension by his ward was illegal.
“What happened a few minutes ago is that the court of appeal in Owerri sitting in Abuja affirmed all the candidates that emerged from the Lamidi Apapa-led primaries in Imo – it includes Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa,” Mawah said.
“What happened in Edo state is not an end to the case of LP and there is more to it. The court just confirmed that.
“The court in Edo did not uphold Abure as the national chairman of LP. The court only set aside the suspension of Abure by his ward.”
Mawah said a trial court had restrained Abure from parading himself as the LP chairman when he conducted the screening exercise for the gubernatorial hopefuls.
However, reacting to the claim, Obiora Ifoh, spokesperson of the Abure-led NWC of the party, said the ruling of the appellate court did not favour the Apapa-led faction.
“The attention-seeking camp of Lamidi Apapa had earlier today as usual misinformed the public by twisting the clear judgment of the appellate court,” Ifoh said.
“It is therefore important to state that neither the Federal High Court Owerri nor the Court of Appeal Owerri, which sat in Abuja today made any orders in the matter other than for lack of locus standi against the plaintiff (Basil Maduka).
“Consequently, the status quo remains with Senator Athan Achonu as the validly nominated candidate of the Labour Party for the 2023 Imo governorship election.
“In his lead judgment, Justice Abadua, while nullifying the earlier suspension and all actions taken against Abure and the party arising from the purported suspension, affirmed the decision of the High Court of Edo State and held that one man cannot suspend the national chairman of Labour Party in line with Article 13 and 17 of the Constitution of the Party and the extant Electoral Act of 2022 particularly when the appellant has been described by the party as unknown.”
Ifoh asked party members to distance themselves from the Apapa-led group.