Tinubu’s minister fuelling crisis in our party, LP alleges



The leadership of the Labour Party has accused the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, of having an alliance with the Lamidi Apapa faction to stir a crisis in the party.


The development is coming barely one week after two legal counsels claiming to be representing the Independent National Electoral Commission turned up at the appellate court in Lagos.


INEC had on February 28 declared LP candidate Amobi Ogah, as the winner of the Isiukwuato Umunneochi Federal Constituency election with 11,769 votes as against the 8,752 votes bagged by Onyejeocha.


A National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, Abia State capital, however, nullified the election of the LP candidate.


Delivering judgment in the petition tagged EPT/AB/HR/8/2023 in Umuahia, a three-member panel of the tribunal ruled that Ogah did not comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act.


Ogah argued that the acceptance of the ministerial appointment of Onyejeocha as minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was a clear sign that she had abandoned her petition.


But the tribunal, in its ruling, dismissed the submission of the lawmaker.


Confusion, however, arose on Thursday when two legal counsels showed up, each holding a letter of authority to speak on behalf of INEC, after the case came up for hearing in Lagos, forcing the hearing to be adjourned.


Addressing journalists on Wednesday at the party secretariat in Abuja, LP National Youth Leader, Kennedy Ahanotu, claimed they had intelligence that the minister and the LP splinter group were behind the drama.


Ahanotu, who was flanked at the conference by the National Publicity Secretary, Obiora Ifoh, and National Legal Adviser, Kehinde Edun, further alleged they had no doubt she was working in league with some expelled members of the party.


He said, “The leadership of the Labour Party wishes to inform Nigerians on yet an unholy alliance between the Minister of State for Labour, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, and some expelled members of our party led by Chief Lamidi Apapa, whose purpose is to ensure that crisis is sustained perpetually in our party.


“One may begin to wonder what connects the minister and the Labour Party that she will go to the length of instigating and funding crisis within the party. We are, however, aware that the former lawmaker is fighting a personal and proxy war against the party.


“Onyejeocha has been in the national assembly since 2007 until the February 25 general election when she was defeated by Amobi Ogah by a very wide margin. Her loss to Amobi Ogah was a pill too hard to swallow; hence, she has vowed to use all her connections to ensure that the election declared by INEC is upturned in her favour.”


Explaining what led to the confusion that saw two counsels show up at the appellate court last week, Ahanotu stated that they suspected foul play when INEC failed to deliver the letter it wrote to the firm of the first lawyer, Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN) to withdraw from the case.


The member of the LP National Working Committee also noted that though the legal firm of J. O. Asoluka was meant to take over officially, the letter was allegedly delayed deliberately to frustrate Ogar’s appeal case.


 “The desperation by lawyers from the firm of Yunus Ustaz Usman to insist on representing INEC, even when the firm had already written to INEC withdrawing its services, stoked our curiosity. But the embarrassed Usman has completely distanced himself from the action.


“On further investigation, we realised that INEC failed to release this letter written on the 17th by the firm of Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN) withdrawing from the case. The letter only surfaced after the unfortunate incident at the Appeal Court. So we are wondering if there was any threat from high places against officials of the INEC preventing them from making the letter public.


“We also took special note of the presence of the Apapa-led splinter group, which attempted to hijack the representation of the party at the court. How did this splinter group come into the scenario and who got them involved? It is a known fact that this group has evolved as meddlesome interlopers and has severally worked against the larger interest of the Labour Party, even when the Supreme Court has refused them recognition,” he stated.


Reacting via a statement, Special Adviser on Media to the minister, Gabriel Emameh, urged Labour Party to concentrate on resolving its internal crisis and leave Onyejeocha alone


While describing the allegation as a hatchet job, Emameh stated that a high-ranking former federal parliamentarian, who has been in the business of making laws for the country for 16 years would not stoop so low to have anything to do with the opposition party.


He said, “Ahanotu has forgotten so soon that the crisis in the Labour Party started even before the inauguration of the party’s Presidential Campaign Council in 2022. Why Ahanotu and his gang believe that Honourable Onyejeocha is the source of the army of problems that have ripped LP inside out is not just arrantly illogical but obsessive and demonic.


“Despite all the pre-election posturing, it was all too clear to every discerning mind that the Labour Party was a fantasy house built on sand, of which its loss at the Presidential poll has continued to expose its rotten underbelly.


“Robbed of her victory to return to the 10th Assembly, by LP’s Amaobi Ogah, the learned judges of the Abia State National and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal saw through the heist and returned her as duly elected. As a strong believer in the rule of law and the sanctity of the courtroom as well as the judiciary as the citadel of justice, she is optimistic that Daniel will also come to judgment at the Appeal Tribunal.


“My honest and sincere counsel is that the LP should face up to the pervasive leadership crises in the party, look inwards and reinvent itself and allow the honourable minister to focus as she is too busy to be distracted.”


Also, reacting via a statement, the spokesman for the Apapa faction, Abayomi Arabambi, debunked Ahanotu’s claim, saying there was no dalliance between them and the minister.


This was even as Arabambi stressed that the minister also has the right to seek legal redress if she suspects she has been robbed of her mandate.


He said, “The LP dispels the allegation of alliance between the party and the Minister of State, Labour, and Employment, as purportedly stated in the Ahanotu’s concocted piece. We urge Nigerian citizens to feign ignorance of such a statement in the form of character assassination against a true democrat and a true citizen, who (Onyejeocha) is fighting to reclaim her mandate.


“The LP has no relationship with the minister, neither did the party go against any Nigerian seeking redress in the courts of law. For the records, we need to educate the crops of baby charge and bail lawyers on Julius Abure’s payrolls on the issue of qualification. We submit that the issue of qualification of a candidate as it relates to its sponsorship by a political party is both a pre-election and post-election.

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