A fresh crisis has erupted in the opposition Labour Party (LP) National Working Committee (NWC) over alleged misappropriation of N3billion raised for the 2023 election campaigns.
Last week, the national chairman of LP, Barr. Julius Abure, while debunking an allegation of forgery levelled against him, said some members of the party were being sponsored to destabilise LP.
But, in a twist of events, the National Treasurer of the LP, Mrs Oluchi Oprah, accused the national chairman Abure of misappropriating over N3 billion out of the N3.5 billion raised for the 2023 election campaigns.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, Oluchi said under Abure’s watch, over N3.5 billion was raised from the sale of nomination forms for the 2023 general elections.
“However, apart from the proceeds of the sale of forms from his home state of Edo – which was diverted to Mr Abure’s private accounts, he only declared N55 million to me as Treasurer, of the over N3.5 billion raised, pocketing the rest for himself,” Oluchi said.
According to her, during off-cycle elections in several states last year, the party raised around N958 million from nomination forms and donations.
“These funds have completely vanished under Mr. Abure’s oversight – with zero paper trail. While on a fundraising tour in the United States in August 2023, Mr. Abure and his cronies raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from the party’s diaspora community.
“To date, he has not declared a single dollar to me or the NWC, essentially stealing donations meant for the party’s development. Indeed, not a single cent from donations received was ever paid into any of the party’s accounts,” Oluchi said.
According to her, Abure run the affairs of the Labour Party as his private estate, adding that it was with great reluctance and deep concern that she is compelled to address the media publicly regarding the egregious financial mismanagement and corruption that have plagued their beloved party under the leadership of Abure.
“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.
“Since assuming office in 2021, Mr Abure has engaged in a series of actions that not only undermine the principles upon which the Labour Party was founded but also constitute grave violations of trust and fiduciary responsibility. His tenure has been marred by forgery, embezzlement, and corrupt enrichment, all at the expense of the party and its members. He has unilaterally depleted the party’s bank accounts, often through fraudulent means, including forging the signature of his predecessor and our late national chairman – Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, immediately after his demise.
“One of the most alarming aspects of Mr Abure’s conduct is his repeated denial of my access to the party’s financial records and bank accounts. Despite my role as National Treasurer and custodian of all party funds, bank and accounting records, I have been systematically prohibited from fulfilling my duties, including accessing essential information and bank statements necessary for proper financial oversight. This deliberate obstruction not only hinders my ability to carry out my responsibilities but also raises serious questions about the chairman’s transparency and accountability.
“The chairman regularly syphones monies from the party accounts through unauthorised transfers to proxy individuals, including junior unsuspecting administrative staff at our national secretariat, as well as special purpose vehicles owned by himself and/or his wife and/or other family members.
“To conceal his financial crimes from the authorities, Mr. Abure doctored audit reports in 2023 and tried to bribe me severally – first with money, then a new car and even a new house, to ratify his hoax financial statements. I rejected his bribes and obstruction of my duties as Treasurer. Indeed, Labour Party remains the only major political party that has failed to submit an audit report of our financial activities for 2022 2023, to the Independent National Electoral Commission (“INEC”).
“Evidence suggests the chairman has sunk his loot into various choice properties in Nigeria and Europe. When he assumed office in 2021, Mr. Abure was practically destitute. His financial position essentially remained the same until 2022, following the entry of His Excellency Peter Obi into the Labour Party. Today, Mr. Abure owns multiple high-end real estate in Abuja, Benin, Uromi, and Italy, whose value runs into hundreds of millions, if not billions of naira. To the best of my knowledge, he did not own a single property prior to 2022 and lived in very squalid conditions.
“For many months now, I have persistently demanded financial transparency and accountability from Mr Abure, to no avail. I have repeatedly requested for bank statements and transaction notifications to be sent directly to my office as Treasurer, all of which have fallen on deaf ears. All calls for appointment of reputable external auditors to evaluate and report on the party’s financial activities have been vehemently rejected by Mr. Abure. He has clearly breached public trust and serially flouts our party’s constitution.
“I must also address the chairman’s attempts to cover up his financial malfeasance through the fabrication of audit reports and the coercion of party officials, including myself, into compliance. His actions not only undermine the integrity of our party but also betray the trust of the Nigerian people, who look to us for principled leadership and ethical governance.
“Mr. Abure has brought immense shame and controversy to our great party. His conduct has completely violated the trust placed in him by party members and the “Obidient Movement” nationwide. Essentially, he may have single-handedly jeopardised our chances in past and upcoming elections, due to his penchant for embezzlement and financial impropriety,” Oluchi said while urging Mr Abure to immediately provide documentation for the N3.5 billion raised from the sale of forms for the 2023 elections and why Edo State proceeds went into private accounts.
“Account for the N958 million raised from off-cycle elections in 2023. Provide paper trails and documentary evidence of adherence to due process.
“Declare every single dollar raised from the 2023 US fundraising tour and provide documentation on where donations were warehoused and how the same was appropriated.
“Explain the source of funds for properties bought in Nigeria and abroad between 2022 and 2023. Provide paper evidence.
“Allow me unfettered access to party accounts and records as National Treasurer.
“Submit to an independent forensic audit of our party’s finances, to be conducted by a reputable international firm,” Oluchi said, adding that Abure should explain why he has deliberately undermined her authority and flouted the Labour Party’s constitution.
“Provide evidence that he has not abused his office for personal enrichment through theft, money laundering, or abuse of power,” Oluchi said, adding that the Labour Party belongs to its broad membership, not a single power-drunk individual.
“I urge Mr Abure to do the honourable thing and submit himself to a transparent process that will restore confidence, trust, and integrity in our party’s financial dealings.
“I sincerely hope the chairman seizes this opportunity to clear the air. Our loyal supporters deserve nothing less.
“Accordingly, I call upon Mr Julius Abure to come clean and be held accountable for his actions. I demand that he immediately relinquish his stranglehold on the party’s finances and allow me to carry out my constitutionally assigned duties without interference. The Labour Party was founded on the principles of justice, equality, and integrity, and it is incumbent upon all of us to uphold these values in the face of corruption and abuse of power.
“I equally urge all members of the Labour Party, including H.E. Mr. Peter Obi, and the Nigerian public to stand with me in demanding accountability and transparency from our chairman. We cannot allow the actions of a few individuals to tarnish the hard-earned reputation of our party or undermine the trust of the people we serve. It is time for change, and I stand ready to fight for the principles that define us as a party and as a nation. I reiterate my demand for Mr Abure to fully account for every naira and dollar raised under his tenure. Nothing less than full transparency and accountability will suffice.The Labour Party represents the dreams and aspirations of millions of Nigerians yearning for good and responsible governance. We cannot afford to fail them,” Oluchi added.