The Labour Party, LP, has emerged as one of the biggest casualties of the ongoing State and National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal.
DAILY POST reports that tribunals sitting in different states of the country have sacked many of the elected members of the party in Edo, Abia, Enugu, among others, over the discrepancy surrounding their membership of the party and their mode of nomination.
Rising as one of the main opposition political parties in the 2023 general elections, the LP was able to claim some House of Representatives and Senatorial seats in some states.
The milestone of the LP in the general elections was unprecedented considering that the party came from obscurity to gain popularity.
Many saw this as a revolutionary movement that captured the heart of the youths at a time Nigerians yearned for a change.
Before 2023, the Labour Party had existed for over 20 years as a pro-workers political organisation.
But it made inroads into mainstream politics within just eight months.
The party rode on the fame and acceptance of Peter Obi, its flagbearer during the general elections, by an overwhelming youth majority known as ‘Obidients’.
Obi lost the presidential election after having won 12 states, including Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
He shocked many after challenging the two previously dominant parties, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to win a total of 6,101,533 votes.
APC’s Bola Tinubu won the contest with 8,794,726 votes, while Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP came second, securing 6,984,520 votes.
The Labour Party, however, was able to win one governorship seat, with Alex Otti emerging victorious in Abia State.
The Party clinched eight senatorial seats and 34 seats in the House of Representatives.
With this number, the Peter Obi-led political party became the third most popular party in the National Assembly.
APC won 57 Senate seats; PDP, 29; LP, eight; Social Democratic Party (SDP) two; NNPP two; YPP and APGA got one each.
In the House of Representatives, the APC had 162 seats; PDP, 102; LP, 34; NNPP, 18; APGA, four; ADC, two; SDP, two; YPP, one.
The Labour Party was successful in states such as Enugu, Abia, Imo, Delta, Anambra, Plateau and even Benue.
However, as the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunals sitting in several states end their proceedings this week, the LP has been on the receiving end.
About 552 election petitions were filed by aggrieved candidates, and while over 150 of the cases have been decided, some of the cases were withdrawn by the petitioners.
The tribunals, across the country, will end their sittings on Saturday, September 16, 2023.
One of the three House of Reps members whose elections were nullified by the tribunal in Enugu State was Hon. Engr. Chijioke Stanislaus Okereke, representing Awgu/Aninri/Oji River Federal Constituency.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared that Okereke won the election but the Tribunal sacked him, declaring Chief Onwuegbu Anayo of the PDP as winner.
The second person is Hon Prof. Paul Sunday Nnamchi elected to represent Enugu East/Isi-Uzo Federal Constituency.
The tribunal declared Prince Cornelius Nnaji of the PDP as winner.
Also in Enugu, the Tribunal has nullified the election of Rt Hon Barr Sunday Cyriacus Umeha representing Udi/Ezeagu Federal Constituency.
The court said that he failed to properly resign his membership of the PDP before picking the ticket of the LP. It declared PDP candidate, Festus Uzor as the winner.
In Abia State three House of Representatives members, elected on the platform of the Labour Party, Ibe Okwara Osonwa, Emeka Nnamani and Munachim Alozie, have been sacked from the tribunal sitting in Umuahia.
A panel of the tribunal led by Justice Adeyinka Aderebgbe sacked the member representing Arochukwu/Ohafia federal constituency, Osonwa, for non-compliance with the Electoral Act 2022
The petition was filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the election, Chief Daniel Okeke.
In Lagos State, the Tribunal declared the election that produced Thaddeus Attah as the representative of the Eti-Osa Federal Constituency of Lagos as inconclusive.
Attah, Babajide Obanikoro of the APC and singer turned politician Bankole Wellington also known as Banky W of the PDP contested to represent the Eti-Osa constituency in the House of Representatives during the February 25 election.
It was, however, a different scenario in Plateau State, where the LP recorded a win as the Tribunal declared Hon. Dandereng Gideon winner of the Jos South/Jos East Federal Constituency.
The Tribunal sitting in Jos sacked Bagos of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Also in Edo State, the Tribunal sitting in Benin City, on Thursday, dismissed two petitions challenging the victory of two LP candidates for lacking in merit.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party has expressed worries over how its members were being sacked by the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in many states across the country.
Reacting to the trend, the party, in a statement issued by its National Chairman, Barr. Julius Abure, opined that the issue of “membership is an internal affair of the party beyond the jurisdiction of courts.”
Speaking to DAILY POST on the trend, the Labour Party’s National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Aliyu Danko said that the party would do everything within the law to prove that its House of Reps members actually won their elections.
According to him, “We have seen the trend and interestingly at the Presidential Election Petition Court, we presented issues.
“But the same issues which were dealt with as pre-election matters are being used to discard some of our Reps members and we find it very appalling and unacceptable.
“At the moment, most of our members are resorting to going to the Appeal Court to challenge this particular ruling which we find erroneously unacceptable.
“Interestingly, these issues they accuse some of our Reps members of, we can say authoritatively that we have proof that these primaries were conducted and our candidates actually won their elections.
“But then, if there are orchestrated plans to reduce the number of our members at the National Assembly, it won’t work because we’ll challenge it with proven documents that we won our elections.”
Asked if there is the feeling among party members that there is a plot to weaken the party, he added, “exactly. That is what I’m alluding to.”