The National Chairman of the Labour Party, Lawyer Julius Abure, has expressed interest in having the two court rulings interpreted, and the Nigeria Labour Congress, or NLC, has expressed interest in doing so yesterday.
Recall that a Benin High Court issued an injunction preventing anyone from deposing the party’s beleaguered chairman, and that an FCT High Court, a court with similar authority, issued an interim order preventing Abure from acting in the capacity of the party chairman.
Joe Ajaero, the trustee member of the Labour Party and National President of the NLC, declared that Abure still has the title of the party’s official chairman when addressing journalists in Abuja.
Although the NLC President had planned to embark on a visitation tour to the Labour Party national secretariat in Abuja on Monday, the visit has been put on hold as a result of other engagements.
Reacting to the allegation that the Acting National Chairman, Lamido Bashir Apapa, who before the crisis was the party’s National Vice Chairman, South, was sponsored to scuttle the court matter at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, the NLC boss said that it was the belief in many quarters.
He described the usurpation of the party’s chairman functions as undemocratic.
According to him, “Assuming the court has removed the substantive chairman, there will be a notice of meeting and we will get the court ruling or the order which will enable us to know whether it is an emergency situation to call for a meeting and the circular will go out for meeting. “And then in the meeting we may decide to replace him but an interim order does not mean that a chairman has been removed permanently. And if there was an interim order and before 24 hours somebody announced himself as the new leader, the person knows about that interim order.
“We don’t run our organization that way, so the person is not from our fold and can’t parade himself anywhere, and does not represent us. If there is the need for us to remove our chairman, under administrative rule, we decide who should be our chairman without prejudice to the position of a court or trying him on any offence, even if he is removed permanently, we sit down and decide who takes over.
“Somebody can’t tell me he is the (acting) chairman of the labour party, it is insulting. So we have to say you are our chairman and not for you to announce yourself. So it is so absurd and the people doing that should be properly examined.”
Comrade Ajaero further said, “Even if the executive of the party is to be dissolved, it is those of us who are trustees of the party that will be the last people to be held responsible and that is why I told you that I have the certificate.
“The Labour Party is not like other political parties, it is formed by the labour movement but open to other Nigerians to join and that is what is happening. So people can’t come from anywhere and announced themselves as our leader. We choose our leader.”
Asked if his position meant that the labour movement that owns the party does not recognize whoever is presiding now apart from Abure, he said:
“Abure remains the chairman, though there are two (court) orders which need interpretation. An order from Benin High Court and another order from the FCT High Court.
“The one from Benin is an order that says nobody should remove him, the other one from the FCT says he has been removed, sorry it is an interim order on him until the substantive matter comes up before the court. So it is an interim arrangement.”
“So, if you look at these two, we can only ask for further interpretation on the implications of these two rulings to enable us to take a further decision whether we want any of the deputies or whatever to cover duties not to take over from him within this period of the interim order.
“But as far as there are two orders, it’s like saying the status quo is still remaining. He is still there until there is an interpretation of that matter. If we don’t seek this further interpretation and somebody pronounces himself as a new leader, the person should be arrested and be prosecuted. After all this when we will know whether the person is a member of the party or not.”
On whether the labour movement will approach the court on the interpretation, he said “The same court will equally give us a further explanation on their pronouncement. We will find out whether the FCT High Court will have the capacity to set aside the pronouncement of the Benin High Court because to me these are courts of cognate jurisdiction.
“If you take the position of Benin High Court, Abure is still there, if you take the other one, Abure is restrained from performing his functions until the court meets. Whichever way, even if he is restrained from performing his functions, it doesn’t mean he has been removed as chairman of the party.”