The ongoing crisis within the Labour Party surrounding its long-standing leadership dispute has taken a new turn.
On Thursday, the Court of Appeal, originally scheduled in Owerri, Imo State capital but moved to Abuja due to security concerns, made a significant ruling. The court declared invalid all the off-season governorship primary elections organized by the party’s National Chairman, Julius Abure.
Moreover, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been instructed by the court to promptly acknowledge and release the names of governorship candidates from Imo, Bayelsa, and Kogi states. These candidates were selected by the National Working Committee led by Lamidi Apapa.
The Court of Appeal’s decision also had an impact on the political landscape of Imo State. Senator Athan Achonu’s candidature for the upcoming governorship election was dismissed by the appellate court.
Lamidi Apapa, speaking to journalists in Abuja, emphasized that this court ruling reaffirmed the fact that Abure was not the legitimate party chairman during the conduct of the primaries. This landmark decision has introduced a fresh layer of complexity to the Labour Party’s internal struggles and has set the stage for potential shifts in the upcoming elections.
Adding to the unfolding developments, Lamidi Apapa drew attention to an important legal aspect. He mentioned that the Federal High Court’s directive, which prohibits Julius Abure from assuming the role of the Labour Party (LP) chairman, has not been overturned or nullified. This persistent legal constraint continues to impact Abure’s standing within the party’s leadership structure.
“The Edo State matter more or less has to do with civil matters. The Excos in Edo suspended him and they went to court because of that, and they don’t have the right to suspend him. I’m talking about the ward level.
“But the FCT (court) restraining order has to do with criminal matters and is between the state and Abure and nobody is above the law. That’s the difference between a civil matter and a criminal matter.
“The order of FCT 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, the restraining order was in place and up till today the order is still in force. That’s the difference between the two.”
Expressing a willingness to seek reconciliation, the factional leader revealed his readiness for dialogue. He also pointed out a notable instance where the party’s presidential candidate for the 2023 election, Peter Obi, reportedly went against a court ruling during the party’s grand rally held earlier in the week in Benin City.
“From the look of things, you will also agree with me that the day before yesterday, our principal and Abure went to Owerri despite the court order against them that Honourable Ikenga was the right person for Imo State. He went ahead and raised up somebody’s hands, somebody who had been asked not to go ahead by the judgment of Imo State. Today, it has also been reaffirmed by the Appeal Court. I don’t know what he will do again, whether he will reaffirm that again.”
Providing further insights, Umar Farouk, the National Secretary of the Labour Party (LP), indicated that the ruling did not make any reference to Abure, shedding light on a significant aspect of the court’s decision.
“That report was wrong. There was where in the ruling where Abure was mentioned. Nothing was in the judgment. Somebody somewhere just twisted the judgment. It is wrong,” Farouk stated.