By John Asiegbu
The story making the rounds in the state is that the Supreme Court has sacked the Acting National Chairman of the Labour party, Alhaji Lamidi Apapa and affirmed Senator Athan Achonu the governorship candidate of the party in the state.
ordinarily, the Imo Labour Party under the leadership of Nze I C Akujobi, would not have bordered to react to the cheap and mischievous propaganda but wishes to seize this ample opportunity to set the records straight in the interest of the unsuspecting public.
Let’s kick-start setting the records straight by asking and providing answers to some salient and inevitable questions for clarity and verifications
1) Was the National Chairman of the Labour Party, Bar. Julius Abure, suspended by FCT High Court on the 5th of April 2023, over forgery, pedjury, financial malfeasance and other criminal infractions? The answer to this contentious question is YES.
2) As a court suspended and restrained national chairman, did Julius Abure have the legal right to organize, arrange or conduct guber primary election in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi States? The answer is No.
3) Has the suspension order slammed on Abure and three other national officers of the party by the FCT High Court been vacated till this moment? The answer is NO.
4) Did the FCT High Court recognize Alhaji Lamidi Apapa as the Acting National Chairman of thebLabour Party, being the Deputy National Chairman (South) in line with the party’s constitution? The answer is YES.
5) Has Apapa’s emergence as the Acting National Chairman been ratified by the National Executive Council (NEC) of the party in consonance with the party’s constitution? The answer is YES .
6) Did Alhaji Apapa-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, in discharge of its constitutional responsibilities, organize primary election in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi States on the 16th of April, 2023, to save the party some embarrassments? The answer is Yes.
7) Did Evang Joseph Ikechukwu Ukaegbu participate in the primary election organized in Imo State by the Labour Party under the Acting National leadership of Alhaji Lamidi Apapa? The answer is YES.
8) Did Evang Joseph Ikechukwu Ukaegbu win the 2023 Imo Labour Party governorship primary election of 16th April, 2023? The answer is YES.
Did Senator Athan Achonu participate in the Alhaji Apapa arranged Imo Labour Party guber primary election? The answer is NO.
Who organized the guber primary election that produced Achonu? The answer is Julius Abure, the court suspended national chairman of LP
Did Basil Maduka participate in the Alhaji Apapa organized primary election in Imo State? The answer is NO.
In whose primary election did Sir Basil Maduka participate? The answer is Abure’s organized guber primary election of 15th April, 2023.
What then is the bone of contention? One may ask.
The bone of contention and crux of the matter is that Sir Basil Maduka, who never participated in the Alhaji Apapa’s guber primary election in Imo State, approached the Owerri Federal High Court, challenging the victory of Evang Joseph Ikechukwu Ukaegbu at the April 16th guber primary election organized by Apapa led NWC
In the said suit, Maduka did not join Achonu as an interested party and he (Achonu) never bordered to join or be joined in the suit as an interested party.
After hearing the matter on merit, the Federal High Court which sat in Bayelsa State, affirmed Evang Joseph Ikechukwu Ukaegbu, the authentic governorship candidate of Imo Labour party, having won the primary election conducted in the state by Alhaji Apapa led NWC of the Labour Party.
The court also said that Sir Basil Maduka had no locus to challenge Ukaegbu’s victory in the first instance, because he (Maduka) did not partake or participate in the April 16th primary election.
The court also said that the primary election conducted by Apapa in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi States were the authentic primaries of the party, pronouncing Abure’s primary election of15th April in the three states as criminal, unlawful, null and void.
According to the court, Abure was suspended and restrained from parading himself as the party’s national chairman by a court of competent jurisdiction as at the time the primary election was conducted
Not satisfied, Maduka approached the Owerri Appeal Court, seeking to upturn the judgement of the Federal High Court. At this point, Senator Achonu, sort to be joined in the matter as an interested party but his joinder application was dismissed by the appeal court for lacking merit.
In it’s ruling, the Owerri Appeal Court dismissed the case of the appellant, Sir Basil Maduka, for lacking locus and upheld the decision of the Federal High Court which affirmed Ukaegbu the authentic governorship candidate of the party.
Still determined to snatch the Imo Labour party guber ticket from Ukaegbu through the judiciary, Maduka rushed to the Supreme Court. Again Senator Achonu filed a joinder application as an interested party, explaining to the court that he was denied the right to fear hearing because he (Achonu) was not joined in the matter at the court of first instance.
Again. the Supreme Court on the 11th of September, 2023, dismissed Achonu’s joinder application based on his discontinuance or withdrawal application.
Then came the tsunami, the last straw that broke the camel’s back, the day the 2023 governorship ambitions of Achonu and Maduka kissed the dust.
The Supreme Court, on Thursday, 28th, September, 2023, dismissed Maduka’s appeal against Ukaegbu’s candidacy for lacking locus, thereby, upheld the earlier positions or decisions of the Federal High Court and Appeal Court which respectively affirmed Ukaegbu, the authentic and indisputable Imo Labour Party gubernatorial candidate
The Apex Court never mentioned Achonu or Abure let alone naming them beneficiaries of its ruling. Not after Achonu’ s matter was dismissed a week before.
With this development, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is expected to publish Evang Joseph Ikechukwu Ukaegbu’s name as the authentic governorship candidate of the Labour Party in the November. 11th 2023, Imo governorship election.