Labour Party Crisis Deepens, Suspends Treasurer for Accusing Chairman of Fraud

Labour Party Crisis Deepens, Suspends Treasurer for Accusing Chairman of Fraud

•Says it only generated N1.2bn from form sales 

•Oparah reacts, says action premeditated

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The national leadership of the Labour Party, yesterday,suspended its National Treasurer, Oluchi Oparah, for six months over allegations of financial misappropriation against the National Chairman, Julius Abure.

The party, which dismissed the allegations against Abure as untrue, however, said contrary to Oparah’s claims, it only realised the sum of N1.2 billion from the sales of forms in the 2023 general election.

But in her reaction, said her suspension was premeditated, because as a member of the national leadership of the party, she was not given fair hearing.

Addressing a press conference on behalf of the leadership of the party, the National Publicity Secretary, Obiora Ifoh, the National Legal Adviser of the party, Kehinde Edu and other members of the party leadership said Oparah erred for not appearing before the committee investigating her allegations.

The party, in a statement late Tuesday, had directed the national treasurer to appear before a committee by 10 am to answer questions of misappropriation against the national chairman, Julius Abure.

But by noon, yesterday, the party addressed a press conference that Oparah had been suspended for six months.

According to Ifoh, “At the meeting held Tuesday evening  February 13, 2024 in Abuja, in exercise of its powers as contained in the Party’s Constitution with the intention of a fair hearing, the NWC extended an invitation to the National Treasurer to appear before it on Wednesday (Today) February 14, 2024 by 10am (12 hours) to discuss the recent development.

“The party regrets that the National Treasurer shunned the invitation by the disciplinary committee, to clear herself and her actions. We see this as an afront to the party leadership and millions of our members, who are watching on how their party’s image, which they have laboured hard to build is trolled by one ingrate.

“The disciplinary committee has however recommended  to the National Executive Council of the party through the National Working Committee that Ms Oluchi Opara be suspended from the Labour Party for a minimum of six months. This suspension is with immediate effect,” he stated 

Ifoh described the national treasurer as a mole, saying, “Ms Oluchi Opara, a key member of the executive turned to be a mole in the house and has continued networking with the expelled members of the party leadership.

“It may surprise you to know that the text of the Press conference by Ms Opara was actually written for her since November 2023 by the camp of the dissident former members, a copy she tendered in one of our December NWC meeting.

“The leadership of the party made series of efforts to dissuade her from not pulling down the roof of the home she has lived in for 10 years as the longest serving Treasurer in history of political party in Nigeria,” he stated.

On the allegations bordering on abuse of office and misappropriation of party’s funds, he said Abure took over the rein of the party in 2021 after the death of the former Chairman, Alhaji A. Abdulsalam in December of 2020 and a  former Deputy National Chairman, Mrs Maria Lebeke, emerged the acting national chairman.

He said Abure as the National Secretary later emerged as national chairman four months after the death of the late chairman.

“Ms Opara alleged that Abure forged signature of the late chairman two months after his death to withdraw huge sums of money but her memory was so short to remember that Abure only emerged as the Chairman about four months after the demise of the former Chairman. She also forgot in a hurry that she and the late chairman exclusively operated the accounts of the party.

“When Abure assumed office, it dawned on him as the Chief Accounting Officer of the party to build a proper accounting method, which never existed throughout the eight years (as at 2022) of Ms Opara’s service as the Treasurer of the party.

“Real reason she was made a Treasurer is a discussion for another day but we dare her to present a single document of the party’s financial records from 2014 to 2021.

“The problem this NWC has with her was the insistence that a proper financial record be kept. The party has grown from portfolio party to a dinosaur party it has become in the last one year and there arose a need to do the proper thing.

“She also alleged that the party amassed a whooping N3.5 billion naira from sale of forms from the 2023 election. We wished that was true but the truth is that the party realised only N1.2 billion only from not just sale of forms but also from other sources including membership cards, donations amongst others.

“The party through the campaign bodies and support groups realised another N800.000.000, a fund solely managed by the Campaign Organisation, not the party.

“The party accounts have been properly audited up till June 2023 and have since been submitted and received by INEC. It may surprise you to know that not many political parties have submitted their 2022 audited accounts.

“The allegation that audited account was doctored is a matter of libel, which we have taken note. She will be made to give further clarification as how banks transactions are falsified as auditors only work with evidences of transactions emanating from statements from the banks,” Ifoh stressed.

He explained that after the 2023 general election, “the Labour Party was marked for total annihilation by the system for daring to upstage the status quo of the political class and up till today, the battle over the soul of the LP has continued to intensify.”

National Legal Adviser, Kehinde Edu, on his part, justified the suspension, stating that the party has no luxury of time.

But Oparah, while reacting said she got letter of summons at 9.2pm on Tuesday to appear in Abuja and face a panel at 10am and that she  missed morning flight to Abuja and by noon on Wednesday, she  been suspended.

“A meeting of the leadership was summoned and my name removed from the platform. I later received a letter of summons to appear before a panel at 9.24  the next day at 10am. 

“I don’t live in Abuja. The letter of summons was delivered to me on Tuesday to appear on Wednesday, mind you, I don’t live in Abuja

“I missed my flight and a meeting supposedly slated for Wednesday at 10am and at noon, I have been suspended. This is Premeditated This is just to cover up the national chairman. The last has not been heard of this matter,” she told THISDAY.

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