Fresh rumble in LP as faction holds national convention

Barring a last-minute change of plan, the Julius Abure-led faction of the Labour Party (LP) will today hold the national convention of the party in Nnewi, Anambra State. Concerned stakeholders said the move will open a new vista in many crises of the troubled party, JOHN AKUBO reports.

The national convention of the crisis-ridden Labour Party (LP), holding at Nnewi, Anambra State, today, will surely worsen the internal crisis among various tendencies and factions, instead of providing an opportunity for the stakeholders to resolve their differences.
The meeting ought to go into history as the first major gathering of the members of the party after the 2023 general elections where stakeholders will address the future of the LP amid leadership crisis, defection rumours and merger talks trailing it, among others. But lack of consensus about holding what some members described as a “secret” convention will subject its outcome to another round of crisis.
However, a faction of the party led by Lamidi Apampa is questioning the motive of the meeting when the matter of the rightful leadership of the party has not been determined by the Supreme Court, stating that any outcome from it would be illegal.
The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has also kicked against holding the convention, insisting that the Julius Abure-led faction cannot organise an acceptable convention of the party.
Obi/Datti campaign spokesman, Yunusa Tanko, also disclosed that the presidential candidate of the party in the last election, Peter Obi, has urged the party leadership to consider shifting the contentious national convention to a later date for all aggrieved parties to have a meaningful and wider consultation.

Investigation by The Guardian also revealed that the meeting, which ought to be held at Umuahia, Abia State, was at the weekend shifted to Nnewi, Anambra State, because Abia State governor, Alex Otti advised the party leadership to consult widely and shift the convention for three weeks.
It was also gathered that many stakeholders were not happy with the planned convention as they were not carried along, hence the crisis.
The National Assembly caucus of the party, NLC and members of the Obidient Movement got wind of the convention via a leaked letter addressed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the change of venue from Abia to Anambra State.
The leaked letter, it was learnt, prompted NLC to picket the LP secretariat on Wednesday and called for the removal of the party chairman, Julius Abure.

Party sources alleged that executive members of the party led by Abure are bent on returning themselves, hence the secrecy and the stringent measures like the rule that a member must have spent 2 years in the party before he or she can contest.
A stalwart of the party, who would not want his name in print said, “Stakeholders are not happy that the convention is shrouded in secrecy. It was only when the letter to INEC was leaked that LP members in the House of Representatives were aware of the convention. There was no consultation.
“When Abure met Obi, he told him to go and consult widely. The convention was first billed to be held in Benin on March 29. Then it was moved to Umuahia, Abia for March 27, but Abia State governor, Alex Otti was dissatisfied with their consultation and asked them to postpone it for three weeks for better organisation and consultation, they now moved the venue to the village of the Organising Secretary, Clement Ojukwu.
“Political parties are some of the critical stakeholders in engendering democratic tenets anywhere in the world. But that is the challenge here. Stakeholders are angry that the consultation was not properly done. People were not carried along. It was the leaked letter that brought the convention to the attention of the public.”
The soul of LP currently held by Julius Abure as national chairman has been in contention since the conclusion of the 2023 general election, in which its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, lost to the incumbent, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The strong inroads made into the politics of the country in that election have given way to disorder and confusion.
The crises started with a faction led by Apampa who claimed to have taken over the leadership of the party after FCT High Court issued a restraining order for Abure to stop parading himself as national chairman of the party.
Last week, the crisis assumed a new dimension when the leadership of NLC under Joe Ajaero, called for the resignation of Abure. This was after members of the labour union picketed the national secretariat of the party and passed a vote of no confidence in Abure.
They brandished different banners and chanted solidarity songs, accusing Abure of “financial rascality” and contempt of their president, Joe Ajaero. They were, however, prevented from gaining access to the party secretariat by security operatives posted to the area to maintain order. The commando-style invasion lasted four days.
In an open letter supporting their position and signed by the chairman and secretary of the NLC political commission, Titus Amba and Chris Uyot respectively, Abure and the NWC of the party were accused of proposing a “secret” national convention in Umuahia, the Abia State capital on March 27 that will re-elect the embattled chairman to continue running the LP as ‘sole administrator’.
Describing the planned convention as illegal, they called for Abure’s resignation as party chairman and the immediate constitution of a caretaker transition committee to organise a legitimate and all-inclusive national convention for the party.
Among other things, the NLC also alleged that Abure had in April 2023 tried to extend his tenure in office unilaterally by two years, but was stopped at the instance of the LP presidential candidate, Peter Obi, who insisted that the right thing be done.
Without hesitation, however, the leadership of the party fought back to dismiss NLC allegations in a statement, at the weekend, signed by the national publicity secretary, Obiora Ifoh.
Abure said, “What we saw was a show of shame, a show of rascality, abuse of office and abuse of the law of the land. NLC under Ajaero is not above the law and the law precludes Ajaero and the leadership of NLC from taking the law into their hands. Where they besieged the office, broke the fence, destroyed the gates, unlawfully took possession of the secretariat and destroyed properties worth millions of naira. Properties stolen including monies made for the payment of salaries and other official purposes. This is unfortunate.”
On the purported convention in Umuahia, the party stated that “The NEC met in April 2023 in Asaba and granted the permission that the convention must hold in one year. We have been planning for the convention since then. We communicated with INEC as requested by the law. We have also informed all the stakeholders including NLC. I have discussed the issue with Ajaero on several occasions.
“NLC on their own has written to INEC on several occasions on the need to hold the convention. We are surprised that the same NLC is the one that is asking that the convention should not hold again. He has ulterior motives and we will not allow him to hijack the party.”
Recall that the leadership of the NLC on April 6, 2023, declared that the embattled Abure remained the national chairman of the LP contrary to their new position. What has changed between then and now, is already beating the imagination of many political analysts.
The labour union stormed the party secretariat shortly after the Federal High Court issued an order restraining Abure, the party’s secretary, Farouk Ibrahim and two others from acting as national officials and passed a vote of confidence on them.
Meanwhile, on their part, national publicity secretary of the Apampa faction, Abayomi Arambabi in a telephone interview with The Guardian attributed their anger against Abure to some fraudulent activities that included forgery already verified by the police, saying it was based on that he was restrained by the FCT high court before the April 5, 2023 convention.
“He also perpetrated some forgery against the court, where he forged the seal of a judge, forged the Commissioner of Police signature and stamp and manufactured his own single treasury account receipts, which he submitted to INEC in line with Section 33 of the electoral act over substitution via sworn affidavit of withdrawal in court.
“These were the evidence we placed before Justice Muazu of the FCT Federal High Court and he concluded that in view of all the indictments, even for the fact that the seal of that court was also forged he was restrained.
“Unfortunately we entered that secretariat, because Abure vacated it for us in compliance with that order but Ajaero led some NLC political thugs to take over that secretariat from us by force after we occupied it for two weeks.
“Ajaero came on April 17, 2023 led the NLC to invade the secretariat and referred to us as rodents that they came to fumigate the secretariat against the rodents and directed all the affiliates of NLC to look for us and pick us and bring to him in Abuja for punitive measures as if he is the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“They did not obey that order until over a year when the court of Appeal set aside that order and the Apampa led NWC now filed a motion for stay of execution to counter that judgement and also filed an appeal through our lawyer Chief Ogu Onoja (SAN)” He said after they achieved that feat, they did not know that Abure had entered an agreement with the Ajaero to come and help him to disobey the court order for him to stay illegally.
“Now our argument is, why is NLC approbating and reprobating at the same time? While NLC now has the audacity to say Abure committed forgery, why will they now be saying Abure committed fraud?
“They were never a party to that matter, it was the Apampa faction that was pushing that matter until when we got police to conclude the investigation where they directed the Attorney General to prosecute Abure.
On the purported convention, he said: “The aim is to ambush the judgement of the Supreme Court, which we have submitted ourselves before. I now question their rationale. Abure has submitted himself to our appeal in the Supreme Court.
“You wanted to go ahead and do the convention with Abure before, it is illegal. We are not in support of the convention by Abure, I want to make that point clear because it is illegal.”

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