A fresh crisis has erupted in the Nigerian Labour Party (LP) National Working Committee (NWC) over alleged misappropriation of N3 billion purportedly raised for the 2023 campaign.
Last week, the national chairman of the LP, Barr Julius Abure, who earlier debunked a forgery allegation levelled against him, said some members of the party were being sponsored to destabilise it.
But LP national treasurer, Mrs Oluchi Oparah, yesterday accused Abure of misappropriating over N3 billion out of the N3.5 billion raised for the 2023 campaigns.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, Mrs Oparah said under Mr 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 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,” she alleged.
According to her, since assuming office in 2021, 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.
Not done with her allegations, Oparah said, “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.”
She urged Abure to do the honourable thing and submit himself to a transparent process that will restore confidence, trust, and integrity in the party’s financial dealings.
But reacting to the allegations, the national publicity secretary of the Labour Party, Obiora Ifoh, said Opara’s allegations were malicious.
Obiora said the national treasurer who is certainly under some external influences merely read out a concocted statement drafted by their detractors to further tar the image of the party.
“With the exception of the national treasurer whose tenure is about to end in 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 that the party has to be revamped,” Ifoh said.
He stated that the Labour Party did not earn N3.5 billion as claimed and that the national chairman had 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. An external auditor is engaged by the party and our account is under constant scrutiny of INEC or other regulatory bodies.”
According to Ifoh, the national chairman is the chief accounting officer of the party and is signatory to the account.
“The duty of the national treasurer is also clearly spelt out. In the past, the party didn’t have accounting books or methods as it was run by the then chairman and Ms Oluchi, the treasurer. They were only accountable to themselves, but with the emergence of the Abure-led executive, and the growth of the party, it became imperative for the party to structure its accounting method and policy. This of course didn’t go down well with the national treasurer whose financial source was shut down.
“The party can understand her vituperations but we can’t help her situation more so when her time in the NWC is running out. Her wish to cash out was not granted and her subtitle effort to push the leadership to ‘settle’ her was rejected hence her resolve to fight dirty,” he said.