In a recent development, the leadership of the Labor Party (LP) has alleged a conspiracy involving Nkiruka Onyejeocha, the Minister of State for Labor and Employment, and the Lamidi Apapa faction, aimed at sowing discord within the party.
This accusation comes after two lawyers, representing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), appeared in the Lagos appellate court last week with a letter of authorization to speak on behalf of INEC in the case between Amobi Ogah of LP and Nkiruka Onyejeocha of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Amobi Ogah and Nkiruka Onyejeocha were contenders in the Isiukwuato Umunneochi Federal Constituency election earlier this year. INEC initially declared Ogah the winner with 11,769 votes against Umunneochi’s 8,752 votes. However, a National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal in Umuahia ruled that Ogah’s election was invalid, citing a breach of the Election Act.
Ogah argued that Onyejeocha’s appointment as a Federal Republic of Nigeria minister demonstrated her abandonment of the petition. Still, the tribunal rejected this argument.
The presence of two different lawyers claiming to represent INEC in the appeal hearing in Lagos led to the postponement of the proceedings.
In response to this incident, the LP’s National Youth Leader, Kennedy Ahanotu, held a press conference and alleged that a faction of the LP, in collaboration with the minister, was planning to create chaos within the party. Ahanotu further suggested that the minister was working with some expelled members of the party.
Ahanotu stated, “The leadership of the Labor Party wishes to inform Nigerians of an unholy alliance between the Minister of State for Labor, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, and some expelled members of our party, led by Chief Lamidi Apapa, whose purpose is to ensure that a crisis is sustained perpetually in our party.”
The LP leadership raised concerns about the delayed release of a withdrawal letter from the law firm of Yunus Ustaz Usman, which was supposed to officially represent INEC. They also noted the presence of the Apapa-led splinter group attempting to influence the party’s representation in court.
In response to these allegations, the minister’s special media adviser, Gabriel Emameh, denied the claims and urged the Labor Party to address its internal issues.
Additionally, the Apapa faction disputed Ahanotu’s allegations, asserting that they had no contact with the minister and emphasizing their support for any Nigerian seeking redress in court.
This situation highlights the complex dynamics within the Labor Party and the legal disputes surrounding the 2023 election results.