NLC Storms Labour Party’s Headquarters, Demands Sack of National Chair, Abure

•It’s an unlawful break, criminal, party reacts 

•Says labour leadership politicised, lost direction

Chuks Okocha, Onyebuchi Ezeigbo in Abuja and James Sowole in Abeokuta

Hundreds of workers under the auspices of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), yesterday, stormed the national headquarters of the opposition Labour Party (LP) in Abuja to protest the continued stay in office of the national chairman, Mr. Julius Abure.

The workers, led by leaders of NLC, drove to LP office at 9.30am, chanting anti-Abure slogans.

But in a reaction, the party described the development as an unlawful break-in and entry, while accusing the NLC president, Joe Ajaero, of being possessed and driven by greed.

The protesters said it was time for the embattled national chairman to quit office, alleging that he has committed several illegalities.

Abure was accused of planning to hold an illegal national convention, where he hoped to stage a comeback to the chairmanship position after the expiration of his tenure.

NLC also accused the Abure-led executive of perfecting plans to sell party positions to the highest bidders by charging a whooping N30 million for nomination forms.

There were initial skirmishes between the workers and policemen deployed to maintain order at the party headquarters, when the protesters moved to pull down the entrance gate. But it was later resolved and the protesters were restrained by their leaders.

Some of the protesters carried placards with various inscriptions, such as, “Abure Must Go”, “Away with corrupt leaders in Labour Party”, “INEC, Stop this illegality now”.

Addressing the protesters, Deputy Chairman of NLC’s Political Commission, Professor Theophilus Ndubuaku, said the labour movement had come to the place to express their displeasure at the actions of the LP leadership.

Ndubuaku stated, “We agreed that the party should go and hold an inclusive convention, but what we now saw was a plan to hold a national convention we don’t even know who are going to attend.

“When elected members at the National Assembly tried to call him to order, he insulted them. NLC also raised concern and he told Ajaero to resign and come and contest.

“The NLC Political Commission invited Abure in writing twice for dialogue, but without reasons, he declined attendance. All we are saying at this stage is for Abure to leave our party alone.

“Let him go and establish his own party if he so wishes.”

Ndubuaku accused Abure of ignoring major stakeholders of the party, including NLC, by scheduling a convention without their knowledge.

NLC said Abure was acting as a sole proprietorship by seeking to single-handedly organise a national convention without the consent and input of other key stakeholders. It accused Julius Abure of deploying all manner of subterfuge to undermine the efforts of NLC to reposition LP as the number one political party in Nigeria, including shunning invitations to meet with the NLC Political Commission.

The labour union alleged that Abure had in April 2023 tried to unilaterally extend his tenure in office by two years. It said Abure’s action was in contravention of the consent judgement delivered by Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court on March 20, 2018 as part of the resolution of the crisis that bedevilled the party.

However, reacting, the leadership of LP said the unlawful break and entry into its national headquarters by NLC and the destruction of its property was a criminal act, a misplacement of priority, and an action in bad fate.

The party alleged that Ajaero’s greed and inordinate ambition had pushed him into losing every sense of discretion and decency in his recent conducts, be it in his affairs with the workers or even the government.

In a statement by National Publicity Secretary of LP, Obiora Ifoh, the party wondered how Ajaero would lead a band of lawless persons, known to have partisan interests in other major political parties, such as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC), against a recognised independent political party.

The statement said, “Ajaero’s continuous claim that NLC owns the Labour Party is not in any way supported by either the Electoral Act or the Constitution. For his information, a political party is owned by those who are card carrying or financial members of the party.

“We are aware that more than 90 per cent of the members of the NLC have not met this condition and, therefore, cannot claim to be the owners of the party.

“The constitution also provides that no organisation can own any other organisation. The NLC, as an organisation, can, therefore, not claim the ownership of the Labour Party.

“Today, Nigeria is witnessing the worst economic strangulation ever in the history of Nigeria. Issues, such as poor workers’ wages, high inflation and  insecurity, with Nigeria turning to a  Hobbesian state, yet after a year of his assumption of office, Ajaero has chosen to ignore all these national challenges.

“It would interest you to know that Ajaero’s NLC is yet to successfully picket any federal government establishment. His attempt to extend his rascality to Imo State was met with a higher and brutal force.

“Unfortunately for us in Labour Party, we do not command any force, unlike the NLC that is now encouraging militancy within its ranks.”

LP also stated, “By its own constitution, the NLC cannot even call for a picketing of any establishment without a directive of its NEC, but what we saw was a political committee acting out an illegal script by Ajaero.

“The committee has no legal right to call an action in the nature of picketing or breaking and entering into a political party, which most of them are not even members.”

The statement added, “The present NLC leadership is politicised. It has left its primary responsibilities of defending Nigerian workers and has delved deeply into partisan politics and this is a bad omen for the working community.

“We have earlier advised Ajaero to emulate leadership of Ayuba Waba, Olaleye Quadri, and Festus Osifo, who had or currently passing through similar route and still maintains working relationship with the party.

“We are, however, reviewing today’s criminal actions and disruption of activities in our national headquarters with our legal department for further actions.

“What we saw today appears to be a personal vendetta against the national chairman, Julius Abure, who they called several unprintable names, including labelling him a thief. We are certainly going to take a legal action on matters bothering on libel.”

Factional National Publicity Secretary of the party, Comrade Abayomi Arabambi, also condemned the invasion of LP’s secretariat by the NLC leadership.

Speaking at a news conference, Arabambi said, “The leadership of Labour Party is worried by the recent developments going on in the party following the announcement of the date for the National Convention of the party.

“We are worried by the move by the Nigeria Labour Congress, led by Comrade Ajaero, to forcefully take over the Labour Party, which they have done today like a coup d’état in order to overthrow our party leadership to hurriedly install their puppets as Acting National Chairman, Acting National Secretary in order to allegedly, pursue his presidential ambition in 2027, which can never and shall not be possible in Labour party.

“The Joe Ajaero NLC is aware that there was a leadership tussle in our party, which is purely our internal affair, which is before the Supreme Court. We then wondered why this haste to predetermine the outcome rather than proceeding to the court to joined as necessary parties.

“Joe Ajaero needs to urgently explain to Nigerians why he is passing a vote of no confidence against Julius Abure even now that the Court of Appeal has lifted the restraining order.

“We might have our internal wrangling, which is normal for a growing party like ours, but it will then be out of place for NLC to latch on this and completely destroy the party and install its puppet as National Chairman of LP.”

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