The factional leader of the Labour Party, Lamidi Apapa, on Friday, gave the legal counsels representing the presidential candidate of the party, Peter Obi, a deadline of 48 hours to brief him on the ongoing election petitions tribunal.
Apapa’s ultimatum is coming hours after the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ruled in his favour as the acting national chairman of the party.
In his ruling, Justice Hamza Muazu disclosed that he will go ahead to hear the substantive matter.
The matter has been adjourned to Friday, May 19, for further deliberation.
An excited Apapa, who recently held a parallel meeting of the National Executive Council in Bauchi, spoke on the ruling in a viral video shared on Twitter.
He said, “I am so pleased that justice has taken place today. There is no doubt that I am now in charge. It has now been confirmed by the court that I have the right to be in charge until another order takes place.
“As of today, I am the acting national chairman of the party and any other person that parades himself as the chairman is doing so illegally.
“I want to invite all the lawyers that are in charge, representing Labour Party at the election tribunal, to give me updates in the next 48 hours because I am the one in charge and the one in the driver’s seat.”
Recall that the court had stopped the embattled chairman, Julius Abure, and three others from parading themselves as executives of the party.
After Abure’s suspension, Apapa who was then the national vice chairman for the South was declared the acting chairman of LP.
Reacting to the report, Acting National Publicity Secretary of the party, Obiora Ifoh, warned that the ruling should not been seen in the light of a substantive judgment by the court.
While saying they will appeal the ruling, he claimed Abure remains the national chairman of Labour Party pending the final determination of the matter.
“Today’s sitting is not for judgment as Apapa’s group is peddling in their usual way of misinforming Nigerians but purely for the purpose of determining the jurisdiction of the court.
“However, we have appealed the ruling immediately because we know we will not get justice from the court,” he said.
Meanwhile, Abure has also reacted to Friday’s ruling, saying he has no option other than to appeal before the end of the day.
The suspended chairman stated this when he received a delegation of Civil Society Organisations and supporters of the party who paid him a solidarity visit at the National Secretariat in Abuja
He said, “We have obeyed the court restraining order and by today, the court gave a ruling, assuming jurisdiction. I need to make it abundantly clear that the substantive matter has not started. There was a preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the court and the court today assumed jurisdiction.
“For me, I am ready to go for an appeal. In the next few hours, we will be submitting our notice of appeal to the court and we will move all the matter from that court and take it to the court of Appeal. I believe that I will get justice in the Court of Appeal. Because this same court in FCT in 2023 in the case of Suleiman vs APC did the same thing and the Law Report decided by the Supreme Court made it very clear that the court has no jurisdiction over such matter.
“Labour party is a democratic institution and you don’t use coup d’etat to grab leadership. You don’t use the back door to take over the leadership of the party. That is what Apapa and co tried to do. Though we understand them because they have been paid by their paymasters, if you look at the statement they made today, they are talking about the tribunal.”
Abure also shed more light on his travail and how cracks within the party became a full blown crisis in Labour Party.
He also blamed Apapa and the factional National Publicity Secretary, Abayomi Arabambi, for the present woes of the party.
He said, “Whatever they say is about the tribunal, and it is no longer news that these disgruntled Labour Party members have been paid to truncate the cases in tribunal. They are only satisfying their paymasters and so we urge all our members to disregard them.
“The party was a small party and because we want to have numbers, we accommodated all form of charlatans and dubious people into the party. These are people who didn’t offer anything to the party. Apapa scored zero in Oyo state in the Presidential election. Arabambi who is claiming to be the Publicity Secretary scored zero in Ogun state in the presidential election. They even supported other candidates from other parties. In Edo, I scored 79 percent of the votes in the presidential election. I ensured that APC and PDP did not get 25 percent in that election.
“I want to reassure you that we are in control and I remain the national chairman. I assure you that we continue to provide leadership. Our cases in court, we will continue to defend them. Our House of Reps and senatorial cases, we will continue to defend to the end and our presidential election tribunal we will defend to the end. No amount of distraction will stop us from attaining our aspirations.”