The leadership crisis rocking the labour party (LP) took a twist on Thursday as an Appeal court has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise the candidates for Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo governorship elections that emerged from the primaries conducted by Lamidi Apapa faction.
The Court of Appeal in Owerri, Imo State, sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, sacked Julius Abure, and recognised Lamidi Apapa as the National Chairman of the Labour Party.
The court also dismissed the governorship candidature of Senator Athan Achonu of Imo State, and others belonging to the Abure-led LP faction.
Addressing journalists in Abuja after the ruling, Apapa said the candidates that emerged from the Abure-led primaries are merely wasting their time.
He said, “You will recall that on the 5th of April, 2033, the FCT High court restrained Abure and others from parading themselves as National Officers of the party and as a result the party, appointed the Deputy National Chairman (Alhaji Bashiru Lamidi Apapa) as the Acting National Chairman of the party pursuant to its Constitution.
Sequel to that the party under the leadership of Alhaji Apapa wrote to the INEC changing its date of primary earlier scheduled by Abure 15th to 16th of April, 2023.
“Notwithstanding the fact that he was under a restraining order, Abure still went ahead to conduct his primaries for Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa on 15th of April, 2023. On the other hand, the Lamidi Apapa led faction conducted his primaries for IMO on 16th of April, 2023 and as such there were two primaries conducted by the Labour Party in these states.
Peeved by the primary conducted by the Apapa faction, a candidate who participated in the Abure primary took the Apapa candidate to court whilst maintaining that Abure candidates were the authentic candidate as he is the authentic chairman of the party. The case was frantically defended, and the Federal High court, Owerri Division, declared the primaries conducted by Apapa as the authentic candidate as Abure was under a restraining order as at the time he screened candidates and conducted his primaries. Thus, the court recognized Alhaji Lamidi Apapa as the authentic Chairman of the party.
“Dissatisfied with the FHC judgment, Abure candidates, including the winner of his primaries appealed against the judgment to the court of Appeal. The court of appeal this morning affirmed the judgment of the Federal High Court that Abure’s conduct was contemptuous as he was under a restraining order when he conducted the said primaries.
And that restraining order is still in force even at the time this judgment was delivered.”
Also speaking, Lamidi Apapa explained that last week ruling by an Appeal court in Benin, which reversed the suspension of Abure was on a different case, saying that the “The order of FCT Court has not been vacated and that is why on the basis of that the Appeal court reaffirmed that by the time he conducted his primary restraining order was in place and up till today the order is still in force.”
Speaking about chances for reconciliation, Apapa said that his faction is ready for a truce, adding that: “What I want everybody to know is that nobody’s above the law. Anybody who is above the law should not be in politics because it’s a creation of law and where you are disobeying the law that provides you the authority, then you are not supposed to lead the people. So, like I said, we are ready for reconciliation but not at our own expense.
“A reconciliation but that will recognize the truth and obey the law of the land, not one that will encourage illegality. We are prepared for reconciliation at that point.” (Nigerian Pilot)