Mayhem broke out on Wednesday in the petition tribunal of the 2023 presidential Election as both factions of the Labour Party(LP) clashed on which side would stand to represent in court.
The Presidential Election Petition court declined to recognize any member of the Labour Party other than the first petitioner, Peter Obi, who was there.
Before the court commenced hearings, it may have been hinted that there was a dispute between two groups of the party.
Justice Haruna Tsammani presided over the court that made the ruling, thus no representative would be recorded until it was settled.
When the petition was summoned, the acting national chairman of the party, Lamidi Apapa, and the national women’s leader of the party, Dudu Manugu, attempted to appear on behalf of the Labour Party. However, the Tribunal rejected their requests.
In the initial moments of the proceedings, Akin Osuntokun, director-general of Peter Obi’s presidential campaign council, and Lamidi Apapa, the LP’s factional national chairman, argued over seats.
When Apapa and his associates approached Osuntokun and other party leaders in the plaintiffs’ gallery who were already seated, they requested that they vacate the seats.
It was reported with visual evidence, that both factions of the party had engaged in a verbal clash on which faction had the truest members of the Labour Party right before the proceeding had began.
The Lamidi Apapa-led LP group questioned the presence in court of party supporters of Julius Abure.
The secretary of the presidential election petition court, Josephine Ekperobe, had to step in to ease the tension that had grown over the two leaders’ dispute in the courtroom.
However, Livy Uzoukwu, counsel for the Labour Party, told the court during the resumed hearing that the meeting that was scheduled to decide on the documents to be offered for hearing had not produced many results because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had only provided 30% of the documents that were required from them.
He continued by saying that the party has yet to get papers pertaining to Rivers State, where the resident electoral commissioner allegedly stated that no forms EC8A were available for distribution but has failed to do so in writing despite requests.
Abubakar Mahmoud, the lawyer for INEC, said that he was surprised by the Labour party’s claims because they had skipped the originally arranged meeting and left the rescheduled one.