A fresh crisis has hit the Labour Party (LP) as its national treasurer, Ms. Oluchi Oparah, has demanded that the national chairman, Julius Abure, account for the party’s funds worth over N3.5bn being proceeds of sale of forms and sundry fundraisers for the 2023 general elections.
Oparah made the demand on Monday in Abuja at a press conference on the state of affairs of the party.
She lamented that, as the treasurer, Abure had prevented her from exercising her constitutionally assigned role of handling the party’s accounts, even as an elected national party official.
However, Abure, in a response, signed by the national publicity secretary, Obiora Ifoh, said Oparah was being sponsored to tarnish the party’s image and that she would be referred to the disciplinary committee of the party for appropriate actions.
Oparah also said the chairman has shunned all entreaties to open the party’s books for scrutiny since the sale of expression of interest and nomination forms closed before the 2023 general elections.
She alleged that, “Under Abure’s watch, over N3.5bn 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 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.
“During off-cycle elections in several states last year, the party raised around N958m from nomination forms and donations. These funds have completely vanished under Abure’s oversight – with zero paper trail,” Daily Trust reports.
She added that while on a fundraising tour in the United States in August 2023, Abure and others raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from the party’s diaspora community and that till date, he has not declared a single dollar to her or the NWC.
She further alleged that she has had to reject many attempts to bribe her with money, a new car and a new house, to ratify the financial statements.
She is being sponsored; we’ll discipline her – LP
But responding to her allegations, Abure, in a response, signed by the national publicity secretary of the party, Obiora Ifoh, said that Oparah as the national treasurer is under some external influences and merely read out a concocted statement drafted by their detractors to further tar the image of the party.
He said except for the national treasurer, whose tenure is about to end in a few weeks, and who has served for eight years as national treasurer without a single record of party accounts, no other member of the NWC has raised any issue of embezzlement against him.
“Let it be said that the Labour Party has not earned N3.5bn as claimed and that the national chairman has 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 from INEC or other regulatory bodies.
“The party will definitely take her case to the disciplinary committee where appropriate measures will be taken,” he said.