An incident involving Lamidi Apapa, a disputed chairman of the Labour Party, unfolded on Wednesday, bringing to light a simmering internal crisis within the party. Supporters of the rival faction, who questioned Apapa’s allegiance to the party, caused a significant disturbance, claiming that his loyalty had been compromised.
The controversy was sparked when Apapa attempted to occupy the seat that had been reserved for the party chairman. This act was met with significant resistance from members who were loyal to Julius Abure, the former chairman who had been removed from his position. This resistance led to a mild altercation within the courtroom, creating a chaotic atmosphere even before the arrival of the five-member bench of justices.
In a surprising turn of events, the Court declined to recognize the presence of Mr Apapa. Furthermore, it refused to acknowledge Dudu Manuga, the national women leader who was representing the faction loyal to Mr Abure. The Court’s refusal to acknowledge their presence was rooted in the ongoing internal power struggle within the Labour Party. The Court stated that it could not record their presence because the party was represented by two conflicting factions.
Following the adjournment of the court proceedings to Friday, May 19, Mr Apapa attempted to engage with the press. However, his efforts were thwarted by Labour Party supporters who were loyal to Mr Abure. These supporters quickly surrounded him and prevented him from speaking to the press.
The scene became more heated as the supporters, amidst jeers and shoves, asserted that Mr Apapa was not a legitimate representative of their party. They strongly objected to his attempt to speak to the press about the party’s internal affairs.
In a startling display of defiance, Mr Apapa’s bronze-coloured traditional cap was forcefully removed by the agitated crowd. The crowd began to chant “Ole,” a Yoruba word meaning thief, further escalating the tension. The situation almost spiralled out of control into a physical altercation, but the timely intervention of police officers prevented this from happening.
The officers swiftly stepped in to protect Lamidi Apapa from the wrath of the angry mob. With officers flanking him on both sides, the beleaguered Labour Party leader was escorted back into the safety of the court building. The entrance to the building was then quickly shut off to outsiders, including members of the press, bringing an end to a tumultuous day.