The Labour Party’s National Working Committee (NWC), led by Alhaji Lamidi Apapa, has shed light on the recent Benin Appeal Court judgment, emphasizing that the ruling did not reinstate embattled Mr. Julius Abure as the National Chairman. Instead, the court solely nullified Abure’s suspension by his ward executives.
This clarification comes in response to the judgment rendered on Monday in the appeal marked CA/B/93/2023, initiated by Lucky Shaibu, a prominent figure within the party. The appellate court, presided over by three justices, unanimously upheld the earlier decision of a state high court, which invalidated Abure’s suspension by his ward executives.
The backdrop to this legal dispute dates back to March when a faction of LP Ward 3 in Esan north-east Local Government Area of Edo state, led by Shaibu, orchestrated the suspension of Abure. The Federal High Court in Benin had previously ruled against this suspension before the plaintiffs proceeded to the Appeal Court.
Clarifying the implications of Monday’s judgment, Barrister Akingbade Oyelekan, the National Legal Adviser of the Labour Party aligned with Apapa’s leadership, released a statement on Wednesday.
Oyelekan said: “The judgement of the Benin appeal court of Monday, August 14, 2023, that Julius Abure and his OBIDIENT people are joyfully promoting and celebrating, is mere propaganda to deceive members of the Labour Party and the Nigerian public.
“If not, Nigerians should tell Abure to publish the content of the judgement, and show it, where the judgement specifically says he has been re-instated as the National Chairman of the LP in Nigeria.
“There is nothing like that. What Abure took to the appeal court in Benin, is about the issue of his suspension by his ward in his local government. And, the court has ruled against that suspension,” he said.
According to him, so by the content of that judgement, Abure has only been reinstated as a card carrying member of the party.
“That does not concern, or involve his criminal case with the Abuja high court, where he is being restrained from parading himself as the national chairman of the party, pending the determination of his criminal accusation issues with the court.
“How does the judgement of the appeal court in Benin about his suspension from his ward, relate at all with his criminal case with the Abuja FCT high court.
“They are two different issues and they are not related at all. As far as his criminal case with the law is concerned, Julius Abure remains restrained from acting as the official national chairman of the Labour Party in Nigeria.
“Until the same Abuja high court vacates the order, or a higher court of co-ordinate jurisdiction (That is, the appeal and the supreme courts) rule against the decision of the lower court, no Jupiter on earth can save Abure from the mess he has put himself.
“Yes! the judgement of the appeal court of Benin, might have brought him back as a member of the party, but he remains restrained and suspended by the judgement of the FHC/appeal court in Abuja,” he added.
Oyelekan said that Alhaji Lamidi Apapa, who he said was validly nominated by the NWC of the party to take over from Abure, remained the official acting National Chairman of the party in the country.
In a related statement by Comrade Abayomi Arabambi, the LP National Publicity Secretary reiterated that Abure remains restrained as National Chairman By the FCT High Court Order Of 5th April, 2023.
Arabambi said that until the Abuja order was vacated, Abure had been restrained from parading himself as national chairman even with the Court Of Appeal Sitting In Benin nullifying his suspension as a member of Labour Party LP from Ward 3 Arue In Edo State.
Also clarifying the Appeal Court judgement, Arabambi described the narrative after the court pronouncement on Monday in Benin as false and deliberate plan to misinform the public.
According to him, the Court of Appeal judgement in Benin only nullified Abure’s suspension as a member of the Labour Party and not affirming him as the National Chairman.
“In Order to set the records straight, the matter of the Court of Appeal in Benin nullifying Abure Suspension AS A MEMBER of the Labour Party LP from his Ward 3, Arue in Esan North East LGA Edo state has nothing to do with Abure’s Suspension as National Chairman which is based on the FCT High Court Restraining Order of 5th April, 2023 bothering on Abure’s Criminality.
Arabambi said: “The Acting National Chairman of Labour Party LP Alhaji Lamidi Bashiru Apapa wishes to make this clarification for public information that, THERE ARE TWO (2) DISTINCT AND SEPARATE ISSUES INVOLVED IN THE ABURE SAGA for the benefits of the doubt in setting the records straight.
“The matter of Suspension of Julius Abure as a member of the party by the ward 3 Exco which the court of Appeal in Benin nullified in it’s judgement of today Monday 14th August, 2023 hinges on Abure’s membership of the Labour Party LP for which the court nullified Abure’s suspension and that matter DOES NOT BOTHER on Abure’s chairmanship of the party.
“The matter of Abure’s suspension as the National Chairman of Labour Party LP BOTHERS ON CRIMINALITY for which the FCT High Court on 5th April, 2023 GRANTED a RESTRAINING ORDER on Julius Abure and others from Parading themselves as National Chairman and Executives of the Labour Party LP pending in Court of Appeal sitting in FCT, Abuja SUIT NO: CV/2930/2023
“This matter bothers on the Nigeria Police Force Criminal Investigation Department, FCID Investigation and Forensic Audit Report that indicted Julius Abure As National Chairman, Umar Farouk Ibrahim As National Secretary, Ojukwu Clement as National Organising Secretary and Mrs Oluchi Opara as National Treasurer for: Forgery, Perjury, Impersonation and Criminal Conspiracy with financial malfeasance to the sum of over four hundred million naira (N400,000,000.00).”
According to him, this was the basis upon which the FCT High Court Order restrained Julius Abure for which the Nigeria Police Force Criminal Investigation Department, FCID arrested Abure June 16 and granted bail conditions.
He said that Abure was arrested over illegal and unlawful substitution of validly nominated party’s candidates in Ebonyi and Edo States.
“The Nigeria Police Force Criminal Investigation Department, FCID has procured a warrant of arrest for the Prosecution of Abure and others in the court in the days ahead for which the Labour Party LP has demanded same for their prosecution.
“The Court of Appeal Benin division today only ruled on Julius Abure suspension while the FCT High Court Restraining order remains in Force with Alhaji Lamidi Bashiru Apapa as Acting National Chairman of Labour Party LP pending the determination of the SUIT NO: CV/2930/2023.”