• Says Party’s NEC Illegally Held

THE Labour Party is heading into a fresh crisis as Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has disclaimed newly elected National Chairman and National Secretary of party, Mr Julius Abure and Mr Farouk Ibrahim, respectively.

The NLC, in a letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), asked the electoral umpire not to recognise the two national officials or the “purported meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC)” through which they emerged.

In the letter, signed by its President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, dated 12th April, 2021, entitled; “Illegal NEC; Further Subversive Acts/Violations of Subsisting Court Orders,” the NLC told INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, that the NEC meeting of the Labour Party which held on Monday, March 29, 2021 at Benin where Abure and Ibrahim were said to have been elected was illegal.

“The purported meeting and election were in clear violation of the party’s constitution which recognises the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress as the “platforms” of the party. Coupled with this, Article 13 (2) (a) further provides that the Presidents and General Secretaries of the two central labour organisations (Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress) representing the platforms, the Chairperson of the NLC Women Commission are members of the National Executive Council of and the National Convention of the party. Yet they were excluded from this meeting.

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“However, the issue goes beyond exclusion as the so-called NEC represents the continuous commission of the subversion of the party and violation of the orders of the court.

“The Chairman may wish to know that the Labour Party was formed in 2002 by the Nigeria Labour Congress for and on behalf of Nigerian workers. At inception, it was known as Party for Social Democracy (PSD). However, at its inaugural convention in 2004, it became known as Labour Party, and like Labour Party in other climes, it not only has its roots in the struggles of the working class, its ideological perspective is shaped by the contents of those struggles,” Comrade Wabba stated.

While elaborating on the party’s history of conflicts and litigation, the NLC President stated: “Due to disagreements that culminated in the factionalisation of the party and the setting up of a National Caretaker Committee in 2014, a faction of the party commenced suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/866/2014 between Labour Party & Ors Vs. Comrade Salisu Mohammed & Ors. After a prolonged legal battle, the parties to the dispute agreed to an amicable settlement complete with terms and conditions which were duly filed in court.

“Honourable Justice G.O. Kolawole (now JCA),  in  the consent judgment he delivered on March 20, 2018, stated that the Labour Party (though not a trade union), is an institutional political  party of the Nigerian workers, founded, funded and promoted by the Nigerian workers through the central labour organisation, the Nigeria Labour Congress in furtherance of the pronouncement of the Supreme Court in INEC vs Musa in which the Supreme Court held: “The provisions of section 40 of 1999 Constitution are clear. Their import is to allow ‘every person,’ including public office holders and civil servants, the freedom to assemble freely and associate with other persons to form or belong to any political party, or trade union or any association for the protection of his interests. The section has made no exception and there is no proviso therein limiting its application to civil servants or public officers.”

“The Justice Kolawole-court ordered the parties to conduct an expansive and inclusive national convention of the party.

However, serial acts of subversion by A. A. Salam (then erstwhile Chairman and now deceased), and Mr Julius Abure (then Acting National Secretary) and a few others in collaboration with some INEC officials frustrated this process.

“For instance, on October 9, 2018, the said Salam, Julius Abure and their accomplices in utter violation of the orders contained in the consent judgment, met at Aptec Hotel (with some INEC members purportedly in attendance), Minna, from where they issued a press statement extending the tenures of A. A. Salam and Julius Abure as National Chairman and Acting National Secretary, respectively.

“We recall too that on August 16, 2019, Justice I. E. Ekwo of the Federal High Court had reason to describe the Labour Party as a lawless party owing to the inglorious conduct of Salam, Abure and co, aided by some INEC officials, and would have made a consequential pronouncement but for the passionate plea of Mr Kehinde Edun, their counsel. The Honourable Justice nonetheless, adjourned proceedings to February 5, 2020 for the report of the settlement or an address on why the Court should not order the de-registration of the Labour Party.”

Against the backdrop of the above, Comrade Wabba asked the INEC Chairman to disregard “the purported NEC meeting for what it is, sabotage of the internal party governance, violation of the party constitution and SUBSISTING Court order.” [His emphasis].

While asking INEC not to validate the meeting or the decisions that arose from it, the NLC also urged the electoral body to “reflect and resist the temptation to aid or abet any illegality” just as it “should muster the courage to discipline any of its officers found to be complicit or intending to be complicit in the Labour Party affair.”

Comrade Wabba noted that if not “for the enormous respect we have for the Chairman,” the NLC would have long ago protested to the INEC on the matter. “It is our hope that appropriate disciplinary measures will be taken expeditiously. In the absence of this, we would be left with no option than to exercise our right to protest,” Wabba concluded.

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