Police officers Officers have taken over the Labour Party’s national secretariat in Abuja amid crisis in the party.
Earlier on Thursday, seven members of the National Working Committee, NWC, installed the National Vice-Chairman (South), Lamidi Bashir Apapa, as the acting chairman of the party.
Apapa purportedly replaced Julius Abure as national chairman.
Speaking after an emergency meeting, Apapa said the NWC members acted on the judgement of an Abuja High Court, which barred Abure from parading himself as LP’s National Chairman.
Apart from Abure, the court also restrained the National Secretary, Umar Farouk Ibrahim; the National Treasurer, Oluchi Opara; and the National Organising Secretary, Clement Ojukwu.
Apapa told journalists that the NWC also reviewed the suspension of party members and exco that had earlier been suspended by the party leadership.
However, Abure who addressed Nigerians in a video after the incident, maintaining that Apapa and his team are unknown to the Labour Party.
He alleged that they were impostors hired by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to cause crisis in the party with a view to jeopardizing its legal challenge against the outcome of the February 25 presidential election.
“Few minutes ago, the national headquarters of the Labour Party in Abuja witnessed a massive attack and was broken into by a detachment of the Nigerian Police and thugs believed to be working for the All Progressives Congress,” he said.
“A court of competent jurisdiction only yesterday ordered that I, Julius Abure remain the national chairman, and should not be restrained from performing my duties, it, therefore, baffles me why the Nigerian Police should allow itself to be used to perpetrate illegalities.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), which owns the Labour Party, has maintained that Abure is the party’s national chairman.
Joe Ajaero, NLC president who stated this in a statement on Thursday, described the court order suspending Abure as dubious and suspicious.
“We are alarmed by the decision of Justice Hamza Muazu of the High Court in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja via exparte to suspend from office the National Chairman, the National Secretary, National Treasurer and the Publicity Secretary of the Labour Party, Messrs Julius Abure, Alhaji Farouk Ibrahim, Clement Ojukwu and Opara respectively on unfounded/unproven and highly speculative and malicious allegations of corruption, perjury and forgery by elements whose interest in the party could best be described as doubtful or dubious,” he said.
“The court order according to Justice Hamza Muazu is to subsist “pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice for interlocutory injuction”.
“The ruling was sequel to a motion exparte filed along the substantive suit by eight so-called aggrieved members of the party including the Chairman of the party in Abure’s ward.
“We view the decapitation of the leadership of the party with great suspicion which cannot be far from the intent to weaken the party from within or distract it from its fight to reclaim its victories at the polls.
“In light of this, we urge the courts to exercise utmost caution in entertaining frivolous suits and spurious prayers from mercenary party members as they are capable of compromising the integrity of the courts. We similarly join the league of those who canvass against the casual use of exparte in light of the grieviouness of the injuries they quite often inflict.
“We also note that this extant court order does not only violate the principle of presumption of innocence, a cardinal pillar of our judicial system, it is an affront to justice itself. We find it curious that while ex-convicts continue to occupy ample space in the public service or space without let or hindrance, those yet to be found guilty are already being harangued or hounded are being debarred from holding office.
“Finally, the continued relevance of our courts cannot be divorced from the quality of their decisions or rulings. Accordingly, our courts are advised to refrain from taking decisions which portray them as having descended into the arena, or worse still, make them picketable.
“On our part, the grounds for suspending the quartet, either in the courtroom or outside it, are not there even as mischievous forces orchestrate evil. The quartet therefore remain executives of the party. In light of the foregoing, we invite the honourable court to review its decision forthwith.
“On the next adjourned date we are going to be in court in our numbers to listen to the Judge.”