- Says ‘they pounced on me, removed my cap’
- ‘He’s a young chap, he’ll never grow old’
- Apapa, Akingbade, Arabambi, others no longer represent LP – Abure’s faction
BY TIMOTHY AGBOR & BRIGHT JACOB
The crisis rocking the Labour Party took an interesting dimension on Wednesday as the warring factions almost engaged in fisticuffs at the Court of Appeal, venue of the Presidential Election Tribunal.
The factional National Chairman of the Labour Party, Lamidi Apapa, who was attacked at venue, said he would have been a dead man if journalists covering the proceedings had not been present.
While lamenting the attack on him, he said he particularly noted that it was a young man that removed his cap and cursed that he would never grow old.
“They pounced on me, removed my cap and I am very sure that if not that you people (journalists) were there, I would have been dead by now,” he said.
“As you can see, I have recovered my cap. But as for the person that removed my cap, he will suffer till the end of his life…I saw him. He is a young chap but he will never grow old,” he added.
Apapa, who said this while addressing newsmen shortly after he was released from protective custody by security operatives, explained that he was in court to assert himself as the Acting National Chairman of the party and to confirm the state of things on the petition the candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, filed to challenge the outcome of the 2023 presidential election, won by Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress.
According to the factional chairman, he knew there would be trouble before the court began its proceedings, especially when the Director-General of the Obi Presidential Campaign Organisation, Akin Osuntokun, refused to vacate a seat that was reserved for the party chairman.
“I went to him and asked to know in what capacity he was sitting on the seat. I told him that since I am in court today, I am the right person to sit on that chair,” Apapa told newsmen.
He disclosed that members of the presidential campaign council of the party had, at a meeting held the previous day, vowed to deal with him (Apapa) should he attend the court session on Wednesday.
He, however, debunked allegations that he collected N500million to scuttle Obi’s petition against Tinubu, saying they were only made up.
On reports that the LP presidential candidate said he did not know Apapa, the embattled factional chairman said Obi was a liar, insisting that he had been in the party for 21 years, had actively participated in all the campaigns the party held before the presidential election, and also flew back to Abuja with him (Obi) in the same aircraft on a particular occasion.
“I want to tell the whole world that he is a liar. I have been in the party for over 21 years while he is not even up to one year in the party.
“I have never taken any kobo from anybody and I have challenged anyone that has any evidence to bring it forward. Apart from money, what else does he (Obi) have that I don’t have?,” Apapa asked.
He accused Obi of refusing to respect the court order that suspended the Julius Abure-led executives of the party, maintaining that he was the authentic LP National chairman currently.
Apapa, Akingbade, Arabambi, others no longer represent LP – Faction
Meanwhile, the Labour Party has said its breakaway group, led by Lamidi Apapa, has approached a Kano State High Court, asking it to invalidate all the elections won by the party in the just concluded general election.
The faction also called on the Judiciary and all law enforcement agencies, particularly, the Police and the DSS, to note that “Samuel Akingbade, Lamidi Apapa, Abayomi Arabambi and everyone in that camp have ceased to be representing the Labour Party in whatever capacity.”
A statement issued by the acting national publicity secretary of the party, Obiorah Ifoh, said the suspended national legal adviser and a key member of the Apapa group, Samuel Akingbade Oyelekan, clandestinely sneaked out of Abuja to Kano State where he, in collaboration with some members of other political parties asked the court to invalidate all the elections won by the Labour Party, particularly the National Assembly elections in the 36 states and FCT, on the ground that Labour Party did not submit the register of voters to INEC.
According to him, this happened on Wednesday while the Presidential Appeal Tribunal was sitting in Abuja with all attention focused on it.
He said, “Akingbade, who presented himself as representing the Labour Party did not oppose the motion, thus forcing the helpless judge to reserve judgement for tomorrow (today).
“Though the party will appear before the court on Thursday to set aside the proceedings, we have earlier raised the alarm of the plots by the opposition parties to ensure that the Labour Party is reduced to the rubbles. Few weeks ago, we alerted Nigerians of plots to hijack the party and by extension, target all our cases in the tribunal.
“We have since produced evidence of the letters initiated by Akingbade to various tribunals asking for withdrawal of cases before them.
“We are using this medium to alert the judiciary and all law enforcement agencies, particularly, the police, DSS to note that Samuel Akingbade, Lamidi Apapa, Abayomi Arabambi and everyone in that camp have ceased to be representing the Labour Party in whatever capacity. This statement serves as a disclaimer on them and for the information of Nigerians.”