The Labour Party is contending with a fresh crisis, which is threatening to further divide its ranks following the demand by Party’s National Treasurer, Mrs. Oluchi Oparah, that the National Chairman, Julius Abure render an account of party funds totaling over N3.5bn being proceeds of sale of forms and other fundraising events conducted for the 2023 general elections.
Oparah made the demand at a press conference in Abuja, on Monday.
According to the treasurer, the LP National Chairman, Julius Abure has prevented her from exercising her constitutionally assigned role of handling the party’s accounts and has blocked all moves to open the party’s books for scrutiny since the sale of expression of interest and nomination forms closed before the 2023 general elections.
The LP national treasurer in the press conference said, “I stand before you today with a heavy heart and a sense of duty to the principles of transparency, accountability, and justice. With great reluctance and deep concern, I am compelled to publicly address the media regarding the egregious financial mismanagement and corruption that have plagued our beloved party under the leadership of Mr Julius Abure, the current National Chairman.”
“As National Treasurer, I am constrained to come before you and the public today because the internal mechanisms of our party have failed woefully to bring Mr. Abure to account for his brazen abuse of office and misappropriation of party funds.
“His appetite for power has grown unchecked, and he has deliberately undermined my duties and authority as stipulated in the party’s Constitution”, Oparah stated.
In a swift response, the Labour Party’s National Publicity Secretary, Obiorah Ifoh described the allegations by the National Treasurer as malicious and alleged that Oparah was under some external influences, causing her to read out a “concocted statement drafted by detractors to tar the image of the party”.
The statement by the Labour Party reads, “The attention of the leadership of the party has been drawn to a news conference by our National Treasurer, Ms Oluchi Opara, where she raised a number of allegations against the National Chairman, Julius Abure, bothering more on corruption and abuse of office.”
“With the exception of the National Treasurer, whose tenure is about to end in a few weeks’ time, and who has served for eight years as National Treasurer without a single record of party accounts, no other member of the national working committee has raised any issue of embezzlement against our National Chairman who made a pledge on assumption of office that the party has to be revamped.
“Evidence is our proactive outing in the 2023 general election as the party presented for the first time a very good presidential candidate.
“Let it be said that the Labour Party has not earned N3.5 billion as claimed and that the National Chairman has not embezzled any money that belongs to the party as alleged. The records are there, except that Ms Oluchi Opara doesn’t even understand simple accounting, even as a treasurer. The party engages an External Auditor, and our account is under constant scrutiny by INEC or other regulatory bodies,” the statement added.
Iroh further disclosed that Abure does not own several houses and property, as alleged by the National Treasurer, despite no law prohibiting him from owning properties.
“The constitution of the Labour Party in Article 14:1b provides that the National Chairman shall be the Accounting Officer of the party while 14:1d “Shall approve all expenditures and shall be a signatory to the Party’s Bank account(s).”
“Accordingly, Article 14: 6 states that the National Treasurer “Shall receive and promptly pay into the Party’s account(s) all monies received for and on behalf of the Party.
Shall ensure the preparation of Annual Statement of Account/Reports on finances of the Party including compilation of the Party’s Assets and liabilities and make same available to the National Executive Council from time to time. Shall be a co-signatory to the Party Account(s).”
“These sections are clear as to the duty of the national chairman apart from providing leadership. The duty of the National Treasurer is also clearly spelled out”, Iroh added
The statement hinted that the Labour party would commence disciplinary proceedings against its National Treasurer, Oluchi Opara before the party’s disciplinary committee, where ‘appropriate measures’ would be taken against her.