LP Crisis: Ex-deputy national chairman lays claim to chairmanship
• Describes Abure, Apapa as illegal occupants
The ongoing leadership crisis in the Labour Party (LP) took a new twist at the weekend, as a former Deputy National Chairman of the party (South), Callistus Okafor, declared that both the suspended National Chairman, Julius Abure and the acting National Chairman of the party, Lamidi Apapa, are “illegal occupants of the seat.”
Okafor, who claimed that he remained the authentic National Chairman of the party, said he got the post by virtue of his position as Deputy National Chairman of the party, when the late National Chairman, Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, was in office.
Speaking in Abuja, Okafor claimed that Abure, who has been restrained from parading himself as party’s National Chairman by a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, was an acting National Secretary, when Abdulsalam, died in 2020.
While applauding the decision of the court, Okafor further alleged that Abure announced himself as National Chairman without recourse to the provisions of the party’s constitution, following Abdulsalam’s demise.
Speaking on his case where he went to court to nullify the LP’s national conventions of October 9, 2018; June 10, 2019; and March 29, 2021, where new executive officers were elected, Okafor said: “Both Abure and Apapa are all illegal occupants of the seat. Abure, as acting National Secretary, can never be a National Chairman of the party unless there is a dissolution and a new convention took place.
“Apapa that took over can also not preside over any meeting because he is illegal.”
Okafor further expressed concerns about the recent developments within the party and the potential impact it could have on the upcoming legal battle to challenge the results of the 2023 presidential election.
He blamed Peter Obi for allowing the crisis in the party to fester for long.
Recall that on Thursday, seven members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, announced the replacement of the suspended chairman of the party, Julius Abure with the National Vice-Chairman (South), Lamidi Bashir Apapa, as the acting chairman of the party.
The NWC members based their decision on the judgment of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, which restrained Julius Abure from parading himself as the National Chairman of the party.
But, Okafor warned that the crisis could undermine the credibility of the party, which could ultimately harm Obi’s legal case.
He, therefore, urged the former Anambra State governor to take swift action to resolve the crisis and prevent it from escalating any further.
Okafor said: “Obi did not handle my case very well. He was busy doing his campaigns and may be delegated incompetent hands to go and sort out the problem. People he delegated did not do that job very well
“Anytime there is trouble, only a roundtable will solve it, and such discussions must not come with threats.
“What is happening now occurred because Obi, as a leader, delegated incompetent people to go and sort out this problem. Instead of sorting out the problem, they were busy threatening and boasting of what they can do. Today, the party is paying dearly for it.
“Instead of Peter Obi concentrating on his case at the tribunal, they want him to come down and start dealing with Abure issue? No.
“Nevertheless, the Abure issue, if care is not taken, will affect Obi, because Abure is not the party’s National Chairman. The constitution of the party made it clear that the acting National Secretary cannot become the Chairman in the absence of the Chairman.”
The former Deputy National Chairman, however, highlighted the importance of unity within the party and called on all members to put aside their differences and work towards a common goal.
He also warned that any further in-fighting within the party could lead to irreparable damage and could ultimately cost the party and its candidates the election.
“Nigerians, all Labour Party members, all Obidients, should maintain peace. Nobody should take laws into his hands.
“We have the courts. I have been patiently waiting for court judgment over the crisis in LP, because it is the hope of the common man. Peace is what we must maintain,” Okafor stressed.