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Labour Party breaks silence on Abure’s arrest, fingers Apapa’s loyalist

The Labour Party (LP) has decried the arrest of its national chairman, Barrister Julius Abure, by a combined team of police officers and operatives of…

The Labour Party (LP) has decried the arrest of its national chairman, Barrister Julius Abure, by a combined team of police officers and operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) on Wednesday in Benin, Edo State.

The national publicity secretary of the party, Obiora Ifoh, in a statement, shortly after videos of his arrest surfaced online, admitted that the embattled Abure was arrested by Police and DSS operatives, two days to the party’s governorship primaries for the November 2024 governorship election in the state.

According to him, a crowd of protesters on Wednesday besieged the Zone 5 headquarters of the Police Command in Benin City over the arrest of Abure, alongside the state chairman of the party, Mr Kelly Ogbaloi.

“The Labour Party on Tuesday had a very successful delegate election in Benin ahead of the Party Primaries scheduled to hold on Friday. The party chairman only this morning along with party governorship aspirants also kept a scheduled security briefing with the Department of the State Security (DSS).

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“Abure was however arrested after the meeting by a combined team of DSS and Police officers. Abure, Ogbaloi and their aides were also manhandled.

“Effort by some party leaders to have access to the Zone 5 headquarters was turned down due to the huge crowd of party supporters who were expressing their displeasure over the arrest of Abure.

“However, a Police source informed the party officials and other governorship aspirants at the gate of the police headquarters that the arrest was in connection to a protest letter by one of the expelled member of the party loyal to Apapa dissident camp.

“The source also confirmed that the arrest was not unconnected to the ongoing party primary and the possible candidate that will emerge which the state government is vehemently opposed to,” Ifoh said.

He said the arrest was to frustrate the primary process and possibly interrupt the party’s participation in the governorship election.

Also the Deputy National Chairman of the party, Dr. Ayo Olurunfemi in video shared by Mr Ifoh insisted that no form of intimidation from the highest quarters can stop the party from concluding the process leading to the emergence of the Labour Party government in the state.

Two members of the national working committee (NWC) of the party had earlier confirmed the development to Daily Trust in Abuja.

The two pleaded not to be named due to the sensitivity of the development and uncertainty of his arrest.

It was reported that Abure was arrested on allegations of premeditated attempted murder, among other alleged infractions.

The arrest followed a petition by a former LP Youth Leader, Comrade Eragbe Anselm Aphimia, who was expelled in the wake of crisis rocking the party in 2023.

The petition, addressed to the Commissioner of Police, Edo State Command, dated February 13, partly reads, “I, Comrade Eragbe Anselm, write to you with utmost urgency and grave concern regarding a heinous act of violence perpetrated against me on the 29th of December 2023.

“I am a member and National Youth Leader of the Labour Party (LP) in Nigeria, and the events I am about to recount are of utmost importance for justice and the safety of individuals involved in political activities.

“On December 28, 2023, I flew into Benin City Airport around 2 p.m. as part of an official 5-member delegation authorised by the Acting National Chairman of the Labour Party, Alhaji Lamidi Basiru Apapa.

“Our mission was to organise Ward, LGA, and State Congresses in Edo State, as well as supervise the sale of nomination forms for various posts, as mandated by INEC guidelines, within the stipulated time frames.

“On arrival at the Benin Airport, I was received by one Mrs Mary Okheime Newberry, who falsely claimed to be providing transportation and accommodation on behalf of unnamed “stakeholders.”

“She proceeded to lodge us at the Smart Homes Hotel, unknown to us that she was plotting a sinister and gruesome ambush. The next morning, a man named Austin Emeka came to pick me and my colleague, Mr Patrick Anethua, up from the hotel lobby, pretending to take us to a meeting venue.

“Instead, we were violently attacked just outside the hotel gates by a waiting mob.”

Daily Trust reports that the development is coming on the heels of the suspended embattled national treasurer of the party, Mrs Oluchi Oparah, who accused Abure of mismanaging the funds belonging to the party and asked him to account for the alleged missing N3.5bn realized from the sales of nomination forms for the 2023 general elections.

While Abure denied the allegations, saying the party also made N1.3bn, the NWC of the party, however slammed a six-month suspension on Oparah, for false allegation and failure to appear before a committee to address her allegations and grievances.

This was also followed by the Presidential candidate and National Leader of the party, Mr Peter Obi, asking for an investigation of the party’s finances and records by a reputable audit firm.

Also, on Tuesday, the 36 state chairmen and FCT of the party during a meeting in Abuja rejected the financial fraud allegations against Abure.

The Abia State Chairman and Chairman Council of State Chairmen of LP, Mr Ceekay Igara, led the meeting that also passed a vote of confidence on him and the party’s national leader and presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi.

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