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Edo LP: Akpata defies Abure, insists Ogbaloi remains State Chairman

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Olumide Akpata

By Jethro Ibileke

The crisis rocking Edo State chapter of the Labour Party (LP), got messier, following the rejection of the Mrs Elizabeth Ativie-led caretaker committee by the candidate of the party in the 21 September governorship election, Olumide Akpata.

Instead, Akpata insisted that Comrade Kelly Ogbaloi remains the state chairman of the party.

It would be recalled that the National Chairman of the party, Julius Abure, had on Monday, 27 May, dissolved the Kelly Ogbaloi-led state executive, over alleged expiration of tenure in office, and constituted a 17-man caretaker committee, chaired by Mrs. Ativie.

Akpata, at an enlarged meeting of the party attended by the 18 local government chairmen and secretaries on Saturday in Benin, stated that there was no legal instrument stating that Ogbaloi’s executive has been removed from office.

He described the leadership crisis rocking the party as a distraction, noting that there cannot be two chairmen in the party.

He said: “I am a lawyer and have practice for 30 years and also a President of the Bar. In this situation you follow the rules.

“As a member of Labour Party and a key stakeholder in the process, I am yet to see any instrument appointing anybody else as Chairman of Labour Party [in Edo]. Kelly Ogbaloi that we know as chairman has not been removed.

“Secondly, we know the procedure for changing the state working committee and I have not see that procedure being activated.”

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While noting that a case is still ongoing at the Federal High Court over chairmanship tussle, added:

“The best practice is to maintain the status quo until there is a legal directive to the contrary.

“I am aligning with legitimacy and the law is with Ogbaloi. We have organs that is responsible for our party and no letter has come to the state from the organs stating that Ogbaloi executive has been removed.

“I and my deputy are lawyers and we know that the law is on Ogbaloi’s side until the contrary. So, we stand with the law. As far as we are concerned, the chairman of Labour Party in Edo today is Kelly Ogbaloi.”

Akpata who noted that the party has become a laughing stock following its internal crisis, said it is worrisome that some people are not concerned with the majority but about themselves.

He, however, said that the leadership crisis will not affect his chances of winning the election.

According to him, “It won’t affect my chances in the election. I don’t think any voter in Benin City or other parts of the state would say ‘I won’t vote for Akpata or Labour Party because they are quarreling’.

“Voters would only listen to the message Akpata has for them and if they are convinced, they will vote for me and if they are not, they won’t vote for me.”

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