There was pandemonium at the Labour Party (LP) headquarters on Wednesday, when some state chairmen of the party chased the Lamidi Apapa led faction of the national working committee (NWC) away from the national headquarters of the party in Abuja.
The internal wrangling within the LP took a turn for the worse last week when a faction, aided by regular policemen stormed the party’s National Secretariat located at Utako, to take control of the building.
The group, made up of seven members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Party, installed the National Vice-Chairman (South), Lamidi Bashir Apapa, as the acting chairman of the party, replacing Julius Abure.
They said they were acting on the judgement of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court which restrained Julius Abure from parading himself as the National Chairman of the party.
On Friday however, the 36 state chairmen of the party forced their way into the party’s headquarters, insisting that Abure remained the party’s leader.
But speaking to Journalists, on Wednesday in front of the office gate, High Chief Kehinde Rotimi, chairman of LP in Kwara State and the chairman of all the chairmen forum, LP Nigeria, said him and his colleagues had arrived for a meeting but were locked out of the party’s secretariat and that when the Apapa-led faction arrived, they (the state chairmen) also refused to let them in, forcing everyone to remain outside,
When the Apapa group made attempt to force their way in, the state chairman who are more in number over powered them and forced them to flee in their vehicles.
“We have been here for quite some days now, for screening of some of our gubernatorial candidates for the forth coming election in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo State. We were at the screening yesterday when we learnt that some people brought themselves to this office yesterday to do screening for candidates when we heard that, we said that that is an aberration because they do not have the locus to do that. And I am a member of a screening committee where we screened so many candidates yesterday, so I do not know how they manipulated one or two candidates to come here yesterday and impersonated some of the candidates so that’s why we came here. On getting to our secretariat, we wanted to hold a meeting and we discovered it was under lock and key. So we met some DSS men and some vigilantes groups, some thugs and miscreants and they said they asked them to lock the Secretariat. So in the course of discussing that, the legal committee led by Apapa came around and were trying to engage us, and their thugs were almost attacking us and we resisted every temptation to cause commotion and crises because we know the case is in Court, any thing in court you don’t discuss it and we don’t want to commit contempt of court and that’s why we now said okay, what do we do, let’s stay here. So they could not enter, we too, could not enter.
“But we know by tomorrow, every legal process will be completed and I know that by the time the court gives the normal ruling, because when you accuse someone of an offense, especially criminal offense, the person must be heard according to session 36 of the Nigerian constitution. In this case, you accuse four principal officers of the party of a very serious offense but they have not been heard by the court, the next thing we are hearing is, they should stop parading themselves as officers of LP. And we are part of the chairmen council, which is a very integral part of NEC who have the final authority to rectify any decision taken by the party. We have not met and we told them, go and wait for the court to decide, they don’t want to do that, they are are taking laws into their hands. Everyday they keep coming here when they discovered we tracked for an assignment, they came here quickly to come and cause trouble.” He stated.
Speaking further Rotimi said, “Okay let even say the truth, if you are barring the chairmen and maybe two or three others from entering the Secretariat, the state chairmen were not barred. They are not covered by that order. So, we have a right to enter our Secretariat. So that means these people have some other ulterior motive. They have been calling our chairmen to come and support them but we refused, we say this is not right”
Reacting to the incident, LP former Youth leader, Anslem Eragbe who was suspended by the NWC said they were by this saying that they were merely acting in accordance with the party’s constitution and lamented the bad treatment given to the interim national chairperson, Apapa.