The factional chairman of the Labour Party in Rivers State, Dienye Pepple, has dismissed a report that a Rivers State High Court on Monday, declared the faction of the party led by Hilda Dokubo as the authentic leadership of the party.
The Julius Abure faction of the Labour Party had in March 2023, appointed Dokubo as the Chairman Steering Committee of the party in the state, after the national leadership of the party dissolved the Rivers State Executive Council, following their adoption of Governor Siminalayi Fubara, the then governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Pepple and members of his faction dragged the party, Dokubo and four others to court, praying the court to determine if Abure has the sole right to dissolve the state executive and that the party has no steering committee in its constitution.
Briefing newsmen in Port Harcourt, Pepple stated that the court, presided over by Justice C Adangor, ruled that it lacks jurisdiction to handle matters of internal party crisis, adding that the matter was academic, as several developments have overtaken the prayers of the defendant.
“We read some publications and some fake news flying about a particular court judgement and so we want to put the record straight.
“In April, we approached the court when the former national chairman of Labour Party, in the person of Julius Abure, dissolved the Labour Party State Executive exco in Rivers State.
“And we approached the court on two major prayers; 1) that the court should interpret whether Abure has the sole right to dissolve a state exco. 2) whether there is anything like a Steering Committee in the Labour Party constitution, because he appointed a Steering Committee for one month.
“But along the line, other events came along and overtook our prayers, because Abure was removed and restrained by a Federal High Court in Abuja on April 5, and then one of the Deputy National Chairman was appointed by the NWC as the acting chairman.
“Now, the new acting chairman gave me a letter and my excos to serve as caretaker chairman for another three months.
“And these activities overtook our prayers. The court said the matter was academic because what we prayed for is no longer there again.
“The court said they don’t have jurisdiction because it’s a state high court, they said they don’t have power to hear the matter. So, I wonder where they’re bringing the issue that the court said they should remain, that was not what we went to court for.
“We went to court on the issue that Abure does not have the sole right to dissolve a state exco and there is nothing like Steering Committee in our constitution.
Pepple also added that on July 21, Factional National Acting Chairman of Labour Party, Lamidi Apapa gave him a letter to continue piloting the affairs of the party for another three months.
“The Steering Committee that was given to Hilda Dokubo was for one month, it has elapsed and that has passed.
“Abure gave another letter of caretaker committee to a group of people which he smartly backdated to April 3, because he was restrained on the 5th of April.
“And because of the restraining order, he cannot sign a letter. Abure cannot sign a letter for Labour Party. So he quickly backdated that letter to April 3 and that same letter expired on June 3.
“As I’m speaking to you, on July 21, I was given another letter again by Lamidi Apapa, the current acting National Chairman of the party, to continue for another three months before our convention.”
On his part, the legal counsel to the Labour Party led by Dokubo, Chris Okparaolu confirmed that the court struck out the originating summons by Pepple.
Okparaolu insisted that the interpretation of the court’s judgement is that the Steering Committee led by Dokubo, remains the authentic Steering Committee of Labour Party in Rivers State, as Abure had earlier dissolved the state executive led by Pepple.
“We asked the court to strike out their application because it does not have jurisdiction to entertain internal party affairs.
“And the court agreed with the respondents on that basis.
“The meaning of that judgement is that, the Steering Committee so appointed by the National Secretary of Labour Party, headed by Hilda Dokubo is the authentic Steering Committee for Labour Party in Rivers State.
“And that, that of Dienye Pepple has been validly dissolved and is no longer in existence,” he added.