By Bukola Olasanmi
The Labour Party has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of misleading Nigerians by claiming it is in crisis.
It urged the electoral body to recognise Mike Omotosho as its chairman, in place of Abdulkadir Abdusalam.
The forum of state chairmen of the party stated this at a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja.
The conference was addressed by Joseph Ndirang, the chairman of the party in the Federal Capital Territory and newly elected chairman of the forum.
Mr. Ndirang read a communique he said was issued at the end of a two-day meeting of the forum held on March 12 and 13.
He said the meeting addressed the refusal of INEC to respect the decision of the party at its convention on October 3 last year to remove Mr. Abdusalam as national chairman and replace him with Mr. Omotosho.
“The meeting observed with dismay, the inability of INEC, as a regulator of the activities of political parties, to fully comply and impartially implement the overwhelming decision of the highest organ of Labour Party (the convention), which unanimously removed the former chairman, Abdulkarim Absusalam, from office and elected Mike Omotosho as the new national chairman of the party.
“The meeting-in-session noted that the special convention that removed Salam from office, was convened in line with the provisions of the party’s constitution Article 13c and in conformity with the requirements and guidelines of INEC.
“To that extent, there should not have been any reason why Salam’s name is still hosted on INEC’s website after INEC supervised and monitored the constitutional process that duly removed him.
“For avoidance of doubts, copies of the Nigeria police investigation report and Forensic Audit Report carried out on the party’s financial accounts, that indicted the former national chairman and other party officials were made available to the state chairmen for their perusal.”
Mr. Ndirang said 30 state chairmen present at the meeting pledged their support for the new chairman, Mr. Omotosho.
“The state chairmen expressed their displeasure over the continuous illegal self-parade of Salam as Labour Party National Chairman, even when the National Working Committee, the National Executive Council and Special Convention removed him from the office. This perpetration of illegality has misled people towards assuming that the Labour Party is in a kind of crisis, which is not true.”
Mr. Ndirang said the forum would visit the new chairman, Mr. Omotosho, and INEC to present copies of the communique.
“The chairmen’s forum re-affirms the outcome of the the October 3rd, 2017 Special Convention. We also demand that all relevant stakeholders respect and uphold the decision of the party reached at the convention, which is the highest decision-making political body.
“The meeting demanded that INEC recognises and only deal, henceforth, with Mike Omotosho as the duly elected National Chairman of the Labour Party.”
The Labour Party also stressed that it will not join any coalition but will continue to stand on its own as a party.
“The party rejected the move of a former governor under the umbrella of the party to hijack the party through the backdoor. We admonish the former governor, who abandoned the party that made him when we needed him most to join effort with the new leadership, NLC and other stakeholders to build the party rather than set it on the part of destruction.
“The meeting frowned at the old system where the party never features in elections but used to make money in the personal interest of some leaders. It was unanimously agreed that only people intending to truly contest elections, will be given the party’s platform for elections. Labour party is no longer for sale,’ Mr Ndirang said.
The party commended the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress under Ayuba Wabba for the timely intervention to restore peace in the Labour Party.
Asked if the party would go to court if after its visit to INEC nothing is done, Mr. Ndirang said: “That is our last resort, we will do that. But for now, these are the measures we are taking.”
Meanwhile, the party’s secretariat in Abuja is still under the control of Mr. Abdusalam who insists he remains the national chairman.