By Ifeanyi Iheakanwa
August 26 (Newshour.com.ng) – A political analyst of Imo state origin, Osinachi Precious Mbaoma, has set the records straight on the position of the Appeal Court which upheld Chief Ikechukwu Joseph Ukaegbu as the authentic governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Imo state.
Mbaoma said that the Owerri Appeal Court sitting in Abuja which gave the ruling on Thursday, did not in any way, rule against itself or had a parallel judgement as being peddled by some people.
He said what the Appellate Court did was to hear the case of one of the aspirants, Basil Maduka, who filed a suit against LP, INEC and Ukaegbu, asking the court not to recognize Ukaegbu as the candidate, and recognize him instead.
The court, according to him, looked into the matter of different primaries held in Imo and discovered that the primary that produced Ukaegbu was the only authentic primary, because, according to him, it was conducted under Alh. Lamidi Apapa who emerged legally as the Acting National Chairman of the party by the resolution of a quorum of the NWC following the restraining order of FCT High Court on Abure, his Secretary, Organizing Secretary and Treasurer.
Hear him, “So many discussions are being held about the happenings in Labour Party. Unfortunately, some have been deceived with propaganda and they believe those false narratives. I’m here to clear the air and set the record straight.
“Anyone claiming that there is a parallel judgment of the court of appeal on chairmanship has been misled. The appeal court didn’t rule against itself. The judgment from appeal court in Edo is very different from the judgment of appeal court in Owerri sitting in Abuja.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Abure and his people should provide the CTC of the Edo appeal court judgement to the public. At best, Edo appeal court judgement only reversed the suspension of Abure by his ward excos who earlier suspended him from the party as a member based on his anti party activities in the state.
“Edo matter has absolutely nothing to do with chairmanship. The restraining order by the FCT High Court on Abure stands till today, and that’s the court order that incapacitated Abure and 3 others and withdrew their powers to act as party executives.
“It’s on record that the FCT High Court restrained Abure and 3 other members of NWC on the 6th of April 2023, following a criminal indictment against them bothering on forgery, perjury, criminal conspiracy and financial malfeasance. This restraining order has not been vacated till today.
“The court of appeal in Owerri, sitting in Abuja heard the case of one of the aspirants, Basil Maduka, who filed a suit against LP, INEC and Ukaegbu, asking the court not to recognize Ukaegbu as the candidate, and recognize him instead.
“The court then looked into the matter of the different primaries held in Imo and discovered that the primary that produced Ukaegbu is the only authentic primary, based on the fact that Alh. Lamidi Apapa emerged legally as the Acting National Chairman of the party by the resolution of a quorum of the NWC following the restraining order of FCT High Court on Abure, his Secretary, Organizing Secretary and Treasurer.
“The party can’t function properly before the law without leadership. All the official activities of Abure and co from the date they were restrained is in contempt of court and hold no water. The primary they held which produced Sen. Athan Achonu is a nullity before the law because the restraining order against them has withdrawn their right to conduct or participate in party activities.
“Though they lived in the illusion of this obvious fact for a while because Mr. Peter Obi stood with them as it appeared as though they were being persecuted by the ruling party APC (which is a mere speculation and political propaganda). Mr. Peter Obi, acknowledging Abure and co to be party executives despite the restraining order in itself is also in contempt of court, and cannot vacate the restraining order.
“Mr. Peter Obi, with due respect to him, does not have the powers to reject the leadership of Alh. Lamidi Apapa in Labour Party, neither does he have the power to determine who is or who is not the authentic candidate of the party in any state. No amount of propaganda, speculation, emotional blackmail or sentiment can change the facts of law in this matter.
“The recent flag off of Sen. Athan Achonu in Owerri which was conducted by the restrained Abure and graced by Mr. Peter Obi and the Executive Governor of Abia State, Sir. Alex Otti is equally in contempt of court. Sen. Athan has been sacked by the court. His name that was published by INEC was done in error and the courts in their landmark judgments have properly guided INEC to correct that error by acknowledging Alh. Lamidi Apapa and publishing the names of the candidates who emerged from his primary elections in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa.
“Sen. Athan Achonu had earlier sought to join the case filed by Mr. Basil Maduka, but the appeal court struck out his motion for joinder for lacking merit. Obviously, the case has nothing to do with him as an aspirant because the matter is about which primary is the authentic primary and which party leadership has the right to conduct primaries as at the time primaries held. Sen. Athan was a mere victim of an illegal primary and not even a party to the case.
“Recall that Alh. Lamidi Apapa is the oldest serving member of the party’s NWC who was once a state chairman, zonal vice chairman and was elected the Deputy National Chairman in the last convention of the party held in Akwanga 2019. The same convention produced Abure as the National Secretary and produced Late A.A Salam as the National Chairman of the party.
“When A.A. Salam died, Alh. Lamidi Apapa was meant to assume leadership being the next in party hierarchy, but Abure conspired against him with some NWC members, outsmarted him, and wangled his way into the chairmanship position in total defilement of the party constitution.
“Alh. Lamidi Apapa allowed the injustice for peace to reign. Now, Abure committed a crime in connivance with some NWC members, and 4 of them were restrained by the court from parading themselves as national executives. The other NWC members who were not affected by the restraining order met and ratified that Alh. Apapa, being the next in party hierarchy is mandated by the party constitution to assume leadership of the party in acting capacity.
“INEC was properly notified and all the necessary legal processes were followed. Just before the primaries in Imo State, Alh. Apapa then notified INEC of Labour Party’s change of venue and date for primaries. The primary was earlier fixed by restrained Abure and co to be held on the 15th of April at Landmark Event Centre. Alh. Apapa who has assumed leadership changed the venue of the primary to Art Novous Event Centre and changed the date to 16th of April.
“Unknown to the numerous aspirants who never knew the truth in the party because most of them joined Labour Party newly in the wave of the Obidient movement, and they knew only Abure and co. They went ahead to submit themselves to the screening exercise and primary election conducted by restrained officers of the party. Unfortunately, they were all victims of Abure’s illegality.
“It’s on record that Chief Joseph Ikechukwu Ukaegbu is the only original Labour Party member among the governorship aspirants in Imo State. He knows everything that happened in Labour Party, having been a financial member of the party for almost 15yrs. Also, being a law abiding citizen of Nigeria, he boycotted the screening exercise and primary election of restrained Abure and co, knowing full well it will eventually amount to nullity as affirmed by the honourable courts today.
“Chief Joseph Ikechukwu Ukaegbu submitted himself to the screening exercise and primary election of the authentic leadership of the party with one other aspirant and emerged the winner of the primary. Some said Chief Ukaegbu was lucky, but I say he has the grace of God upon his life. It’s on record Chief Ukaegbu was the Imo State Labour Party governorship candidate in 2019. He has also emerged as the candidate in 2023.
“I had to take my time to set this record straight for the sake of those who are not aware of the truth of this matter. Please, stop listening to propaganda from Abure’s camp. They have been restrained by the court and the restraining order has not been vacated till today. In fact, Abure and co have a very serious criminal case to answer. I advise they go to police and court to exonerate themselves instead of using the ill-gotten money they collected through illegal substitution of candidates to destabilize the party.”