The Labour Party (LP) has been rocked by a leadership crisis that took a violent turn on Wednesday at the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja. The two factions of the party engaged in a free-for-all fight that almost cost the national Chairman of the party, Bashiru Lamidi Apapa, his life. The fight broke out after the proceedings of the Court when Apapa was almost mobbed by factional members of the party at the court premises.
It took the efforts of about 100 policemen to rescue Apapa from being lynched by thugs employed by factional members who conducted themselves in an unruly manner. Apapa, who was dressed in a brown agbada and brown cap to the Court, was jerked up several times by the attackers but was immediately taken to safety by the police upon his rescue.
The factional members alleged to be loyal to the suspended National Chairman of the party, Mr. Julius Abure, held their victim hostage for almost one hour while attempting to come out of the court after the day’s proceedings to address newsmen who were on standby to get his reaction to the leadership dispute in the party. The group, chanting unprintable words against Apapa, prevented him from addressing newsmen.
A commotion broke out outside the courtroom when factions loyal to Abure and Apapa engaged themselves in free-for-all fights that almost led to the breakdown of law and order. Heavy security men present at the court were mobilized to the scene and prevented the fracas from leading to bloodshed.
Earlier, inside the courtroom, the two factions had battled for recognition and for recording as the authentic representatives of the Labour Party which is the second petitioner. At the commencement of the proceedings for the day, Peter Obi announced his appearance as the first petitioner while Mrs Dudu Maluga who claimed to be the National Women leader of the party announced her appearance as the representative of the LP.
Almost immediately, Lamidi Apapa who was sitting in the opposite direction of Peter Obi, jumped up and announced himself as the Acting National chairman of the party as well as the authentic representative of the party. In the drama that ensued, the Chairman of the Court, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani ruled that none of the factions would be recognized or recorded as the representatives of the Labour Party.
Peter Obi, who was the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the February 25 presidential election, kept mute while the power tussle between Apapa and Maluda lasted. Also, the suspended National Chairman of the party, Julius Abure, who sat closest to Peter Obi in the courtroom did not intervene in the matter.
Meanwhile, the Court has adjourned further pre-hearing session in Peter Obi’s petition against the declaration of Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the President-elect by INEC till Friday, May 19. Justice Tsammani fixed the date after taking arguments from parties in the matter.
The leadership crisis in the Labour Party has been ongoing for some time, with factions loyal to different leaders vying for control. The violence that erupted at the court on Wednesday is a worrying development that could further destabilize the party. The LP has been struggling to maintain relevance in Nigerian politics, with many voters turning to other parties in recent years.
The LP was founded in 1999 and has been a minor player in Nigerian politics, with limited success in elections. The party has struggled to gain traction with voters, with many Nigerians preferring to support larger parties such as the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The LP has been plagued by leadership disputes in recent years, with different factions vying for control of the party. The violence that erupted at the court on Wednesday is a worrying development that could further destabilize the party and damage its chances in future elections.
The LP needs to resolve its leadership crisis and unite behind a clear vision for the future if it hopes to remain relevant in Nigerian politics. The violence that erupted at the court on Wednesday is a stark reminder of the challenges facing the party and the urgent need for change.