The National Working Committee of the Labour Party says it has investigated the alleged N40 million fraud levelled against its National Chairman, Julius Abure, and found him not guilty.
While disclosing that its decision to sack the Ogun State chapter of the party and its excos was made with diligence, the NWC said it had given Abure a clean bill of health to continue in office.
The embattled LP chairman has been accused of diverting the proceeds of party nomination forms into his private transport company account.
The corruption allegation was raised in a petition addressed to the LP National Executive Committee and presidential flag bearer, Peter Obi, by the axed National Publicity Secretary of LP, Abayomi Arabambi.
The petition, which was made available to The PUNCH, was written by his lawyers Kaiser Oghenetejire & Co.
Arabambi, who claimed that he was illegally removed through a coup orchestrated by Abure and the National Secretary, Umar Farouk, stated that the chairman grossly violated the provisions of the party Constitution by enriching himself fraudulently and denying candidates their tickets.
His petition partly read, “Julius Abure, the National Chairman of Labour Party diverted over N40,000,000 from sales of party nomination forms into his private transport company account with Access Bank Plc as payments thereby grossly violating the provisions of the Labour Party constitution 2019 as amended by enriching himself fraudulently and thereafter denied the candidates tickets after collecting their monies.”
Arabambi alleged that Abure had on different occasions’s’s defrauded aspirants and candidates on the platform of the party and called on the party to investigate the allegations.
He cited the case of a candidate for Lagos West Senatorial seat, George Gabriel Chiadikaobi, who paid N2.5m into the party’s account in Lagos and another N2.5m into Abure’s business account in August and another Lagos-based House of Representatives candidate, Umeadi Emmanuel Azubike, who paid N3m and N1m respectively on July 6.
According to him, Abure brought in four thugs with improvised arms or pistols who he initially thought were members of the Department of State Services to harass him when he came to present the evidence of the chairman’s fraudulent activities during Thursday’s NWC meeting at Barcelona Hotel Wuse 2 Abuja.
“Julius Abure’s actions constituted a coup d’etat that amounted to suspending the Labour Party’s constitution for the implementation of draconian decrees rather than the party’s constitutional provisions as regards his illegal suspension and removal as the National Publicity Secretary and also the Ogun State Executive Council.
“Abure pleaded with me to conceal the details of how he embezzled N40 million which belongs to the Labour Party but I refused to do so. That was why I was illegally removed.
“I called for a financial Audit investigation of all the labour party’s accounts to be conducted immediately to ascertain the extent of financial malfeasance and impropriety perpetrated through illegal transactions from sales of party nomination forms and expression of interest,” he told our correspondent.
A livid Arabambi also vowed to contest his illegal removal as LP image maker in a competent court to test the Labour Constitution.
Efforts to reach the embattled national chairman proved abortive as of the time of filing this report.
But LP National Secretary, Umar Farouk, told our correspondent to ignore the ranting of the suspended publicity secretary and other allegations raised by enemies of the party.
Defending the party chairman, Farouk stated that there was nowhere in the petition that Abure was indicted of collecting the alleged fraudulent proceeds directly.
While describing it as a watery report, the secretary disclosed that it was an attempt to distract the Labour Party from winning the 2023 elections.
He said, “In politics, one cannot run away from various allegations from people who are not really in tune with the progress of the party. But I can tell you categorically that the NWC has passed a vote of confidence on the leadership of the national chairman.
“Every part of that allegation has been reviewed and we have seen nothing financially wrong in what the allegation claims. It is just watery. I can assure you that the party will also challenge the action from the appropriate court of jurisdiction.
“In the said allegation, nowhere was the name of our chairman mentioned except in the heading. All the subsequent narration in the report was just watery and mere allegation.
“We are not going to be distracted. People are feeling that we are not strong but this action we are taking is making us stronger. We are not afraid to take decisions as long as it is in line with the Constitution of the party and the candidate.
“We are also not unaware of people coming into the party to cause chaos. Some miscreants will go and say things that are not really happening at the party. Things like money being shared or stolen by certain people. If you have proof of such a report, come out and tell us you are a member, this is your membership card and what actually transpired.
“So many people are being sponsored in the party to cause issues that are not there. We are moving forward as our slogan says. Forward ever, backward never.
“For now, the national chairman, Barrister Julius Abure, has the backing of the entire NWC and NEC members.”