“When I am involved in money, it must be transparent”_ Obi suggest engaging audit firm to unravel fraud allegation in LP

National leader of the Labour Party and presidential candidate of the party in the 2023 general elections, Peter Obi, on Thursday, promised that the party would appoint a reputable audit firm to deal with the corruption charge against the National Chairman, Julius Abure, by the National Treasurer, Ms. Oluchi Oparah.

Obi, who spoke at a media briefing where he rendered an account of the 2023 Obi-Datti Presidential campaign organisation funding, said the allegations and counter-allegations must be thoroughly investigated.

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the LP had Wednesday, at a news conference, slammed a six-month suspension on Oparah, who raised the corruption alarm.

But Oparah has said she would challenge the suspension in court, as the NWC’s action was premeditated, especially that those who took the decision did so when they knew she was not in Abuja to meet the less than 12-hour deadline to appear before a panel, after allegedly removing her from the group’s WhatsApp platform.

This is not unconnected to her allegation on Monday, that Abure had mismanaged N3.5bn raised from the sale of nomination forms and fundraising activities in the build-up to the 2023 general elections.

But, Obi, while speaking, said, “For the party, I am a member of the party and they have chosen to say that I am the leader. What we need to do in the party and I have discussed it with the leadership is that we must now appoint a reputable audit firm to audit and be able to deal with the account of the past.

“When I am involved in money, it must be transparent. So, the allegations and counter allegations now must be thoroughly investigated and verified and we would reconcile it and know what exactly to do.”

Obi appealed to various support groups or individuals or parties that received funding to support the campaign, for which they were grateful, to account to those they received it from.

This, he said, was “Because there are some people, like support groups, there are some people even abroad, who collected monies that they are going to use it in the north and everywhere.

“We were not stringent that everything you collect must come to us, but we want whatever is collected to be accounted for. This is why we are appealing to the public to let us know.”

Meanwhile, Labour Party National Chairman, Julius Abure has announced that he would be suing the party’s national treasurer, Oluchukwu Oparah for defaming his person and bringing down his character.

Abure said this in an interview with ARISE NEWS on Tuesday, during his right of reply to the claims of Oparah.

He also stated that she only made the claims to mislead the public and destabilize the party.

“She has come to lie and to misinform members of the party in order to bring us and the party to disrepute. She was in this studio and said she never had access to the account and didn’t know how the account was run and so, I came here with these cheques that she co-signed.

“Those cheques that were signed between February and march 2021 but these are public documents that you can get from the bank and so you can ask her to bring the evidence that those monies were withdrawn without her signature.

“I must also state that beyond a right of reply, if not that there was an insistence that I should reply, ordinarily I will get people to reply and put all the facts before you. But I decided to come and make a few clarifications. My lawyers are working and by today, those cases of defamation will be filed against Oluchukwu Oparah who came on national television to defame my reputation and bring down my person. There is no way I would have taken this for granted. By today or tomorrow, my lawyers will file. I find it very embarrassing that it is even those within the party that are being used to destabilize the party.”

Abure also provided some cheques signed by the national treasurer countering her claims that she has no idea of what is going on with regards to the party’s finances.

“First and foremost, I need to make it abundantly clear that I am the first national chairman of the party that has been able to make and ensure that we have financial records in the office. Before my assumption as the national chairman in 2021, there were no financial records in the office. Oluchi Oparah has been the national treasurer of the office from 2014 till date. I will challenge her to bring all her records from 2014 till 2021 before I assumed office in 2021.

“I must make it clear that I have never at any point in time stopped or prevented Oluchi Oparah from carrying out her duties as National treasurer of the party. Today, it is no longer in vogue that people will pay into the treasurer’s account. People do direct transfers.

“I must also put on record here that it is not true that the party has collected over 3.5 billion. I need to make it clear that we already have audited reports made by a certified auditor of the party who has reviewed all the records and we have all the audited statements of accounts from 2022 to 2023. The total money that entered the party in summary between 2022 and now is 1.3billion. We also got 700 million which were the campaign funds that went straight to the campaign organizations for the campaigns. So, I didn’t know and I cannot reconcile where she got the 3.5 billion that she talked about.”

“We have three accounts. One in zenith, fidelity and one in UBA and then the signatories are myself as a signatory, national secretary as B signatory and the national treasurer as signatory C. Obiora stated clearly yesterday and that is the opinion of the national working committee and i am sure that you have been following the activities of the party. The party came under attack just after the 2023 elections, obviously the intention is to destabilize, disorganize and take over the leadership of the party and therefore destroy the very foundation of the party so that there will not be credible opposition in the country. It is clear and very obvious that a lot of people are being used to disrupt the party.”