In a dramatic turn of events, the ongoing crisis within the Labour Party regarding its recurring leadership struggle has escalated further. The Court of Appeal in Abuja, which had relocated from Owerri, Imo State’s capital due to security concerns, has declared null and void all off-season governorship primary elections conducted by Julius Abure, the National Chairman of the party.
Notably, the Court’s verdict has directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to promptly acknowledge and publish the names of governorship candidates from Imo, Bayelsa, and Kogi states as determined by the National Working Committee led by Lamidi Apapa.
The appellate court ruling also resulted in the dismissal of Senator Athan Achonu’s candidacy for the impending Imo State governorship election.
Lamidi Apapa, addressing the media in Abuja, emphasized that the court’s decision underscores Abure’s lack of legitimacy as the party chairman during the period when the primaries were held. Apapa further pointed out that the Federal High Court’s injunction preventing Abure from assuming the role of LP chairman remains in effect.
Apapa clarified, “The situation in Edo State primarily involves civil matters. The local Excos in Edo attempted to suspend him, leading to a court case, yet they lacked the authority for such suspension, particularly at the ward level. On the other hand, the FCT court order relates to criminal matters and pertains to the state versus Abure. Nobody is exempt from the law. This distinction between civil and criminal matters is crucial.”
He continued, “The FCT order remains unaltered, and that’s why the Court of Appeal upheld that Abure conducted the primaries while the restraining order was in place, a situation that persists to this day. This is the differentiation between the two situations.”
Apapa expressed openness to reconciliation and highlighted that the party’s 2023 presidential candidate, Peter Obi, acted contrary to the court’s judgment during a recent mega rally in Benin City.
However, in response, Julius Abure dismissed the developments as “fake news.” He conveyed, “Let me share our official response to this report. Senator Athan Achonu remains our candidate. The lower court stated it lacked jurisdiction from the outset and ordered the maintenance of the status quo.”
Abure elaborated on the appeal, stating, “We pursued the appeal because, despite denying jurisdiction, the lower court judge made certain comments. Our intention was to preclude any potential challenges based on those comments. Today, the Appeal Court deemed the appeal unnecessary due to its earlier jurisdictional denial. Neither the Federal High Court nor the Appeal Court ruled in their favor. They seem accustomed to propagating misinformation.”
Additionally, Umar Farouk, the LP National Secretary, refuted claims linking Abure to the appellate court’s judgment. Farouk clarified, “The report’s claims were inaccurate. The judgment did not mention Abure anywhere. The ruling contained no reference to him whatsoever. Someone has deliberately distorted the judgment. This information is unequivocally incorrect.”
The Labour Party’s internal strife continues to unfold, with legal and factional disputes complicating the party’s leadership and candidacy landscape. As the situation evolves, the party’s future trajectory remains uncertain.