Pepple vs. Dokubo: Rivers Labour Party becomes more fractious

Dienye Pepple, the Rivers State factional chairman of the Labour Party, has denied a claim that a Rivers State High Court on Monday certified the faction of the party led by Hilda Dokubo to be the party’s genuine leadership.

After the national leadership of the Labour Party dissolved the Rivers State Executive Council following their adoption of Governor Siminalayi Fubara, the then governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, the Julius Abure faction of the Labour Party appointed Dokubo as the Chairman Steering Committee of the party in the state in March 2023.

Pepple and members of his faction sued the party, Dokubo, and four others, asking the court to rule on whether Abure has sole authority to dissolve the state executive and if the party’s constitution provides for a steering committee.

Pepple told reporters in Port Harcourt that the court, presided over by Justice C Adangor, decided that it lacks power to resolve problems of internal party turmoil, adding that the matter was academic because multiple developments had overtaken the defendant’s petitions.

“We read some publications and some fake news about a specific court decision, and we want to set the record straight.”

“In April, we went to court after the former national chairman of the Labour Party, 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 interpret whether Abure has the sole right to dissolve a state exco, and 2) whether the Labour Party constitution contains anything resembling a Steering Committee because he appointed one-for-one month.”

“However, other events intervened and overtook our prayers, because Abure was removed and restrained by a Federal High Court in Abuja on April 5, and then the NWC appointed one of the Deputy National Chairman as acting chairman.”

“Now, the new acting chairman has given me a letter, as well as my excos, to serve as caretaker chairman for another three months.”

“And these activities took precedence over our prayers.” The court ruled that the case was academic because what we asked for was no longer available.

“The court stated that they lack jurisdiction because it is a state high court, and that they lack the authority to hear the case.” So I’m curious where they’re bringing the issue that the court decided they should keep since that’s not why we went to court.

“We went to court on the grounds that Abure does not have sole authority to dissolve a state executive committee, and there is no such thing as a Steering Committee in our constitution.”

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Pepple also stated that on July 21, Factional National Acting Chairman of Labour Party, Lamidi Apapa, granted him a letter authorizing him to continue running the party’s business for another three months.

“The Steering Committee assignment assigned to Hilda Dokubo was for one month, which has now gone.

“Abure gave another caretaker committee letter to a group of people, which he cleverly backdated to April 3 because he was restrained on April 5th.”

“And he can’t sign a letter because of the restraining order.” Abure is unable to sign a letter on behalf of the Labour Party. So he hastily backdated the letter to April 3, and it expired on June 3.

“As I speak to you, Lamidi Apapa, the current acting National Chairman of the party, gave me another letter on July 21 to continue for another three months before our convention.”

Chris Okparaolu, the legal counsel for the Labour Party led by Dokubo, reported that the court dismissed Pepple’s originating summons.

Okparaolu claimed that the court’s decision means that the Steering Committee led by Dokubo is still the real Steering Committee of the Labour Party in Rivers State, despite the fact that Abure had already dissolved the state executive led by Pepple.

“We asked the court to dismiss their application because it lacks jurisdiction to hear internal party disputes.”

“On that basis, the court agreed with the respondents.”

“The meaning of that decision is that the Steering Committee so appointed by the National Secretary of Labour Party, headed by Hilda Dokubo, is the genuine Steering Committee for the Labour Party in Rivers State.”

“And that, that of Dienye Pepple, has been validly dissolved and is no longer in existence,” he went on.

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