Labour Party's petition against APC victory suffers setback as two factions clash in court

LEGAL action brought against Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) by the Labour Party challenging the results of the recent presidential elections have suffered a setback after the judge adjourned their case following a squabble between two rival factions.


On Saturday February 25, Nigerians went to the polls to elect a new president and Inec subsequently declared Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the winner. Among the main gladiators in the contest were Asiwaju Tinubu of APC, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), ex-Anambra State Governor Peter Obi of the Labour Party and former Kano State governor Senator Kwankwaso of the NNPP.


Inec chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who served as the returning officer for the presidential election, declared Asiwaju Tinubu the victor of the contest with 8,794,726 votes, defeating Alhaji Abubakar of the PDP, who came second with 6,984,520 votes and Governor Obi who came third with 6,101,533 votes. However, the PDP and Labour Party have refused to accept the results, with both of them challenging the polls in court.


Today, the matter was due to be heard by the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja but the L:abour Party's internal crisis get in the way of things. There are currently two factions laying claims to the leadership of the Labour Party, one led by Lamidi Apapa and another led by Julius Abure.


Mr Apapa won the most recent legal battle, so is the officially recognised party chairman but Mr Abure's supporters have refused to accept this. To make matters worse, Mr Abure is keen on continuing with legal action, while Mr Apapa has accepted the APC victory and wants to end all legal action challenging the results.


Today, the matter came to a head in court with a fight breaking out with Mr Apapa physically attacked by members of the Abure faction . It took the efforts of about 100 policemen to rescue him from being lynched as he was pushed and shoved by the protesters, who among other things prevented him from addressing newsmen.


In court itself, with both sides claiming to represent the party, the tribunal chairman Justice Haruna Tsammani ruled that none of the factions would be recognised or recorded as the representatives of the Labour Party. Subsequently, the court has adjourned further pre-hearing sessions until Friday, May 19 after Justice Tsammani took arguments from both parties.