The proposed mega opposition party, the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) would be heaving a sigh of relief as indications show that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) might register it as APC, following the disqualification of the application of the African Progressives’ Congress (APC), one of the political organizations in contention with it for the APC acronym.
The African Progressives’ Congress had its application for registration disqualified for failure to meet the requirements for registration of parties as explained in Section 222 (a) of the Nigerian Constitution.
The Commission’s Director of Information, Emmanuel Umenger, confirmed that a letter refusing the association registration had been sent to its promoters by the INEC Secretary, Abdullahi Kaugama.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by this correspondent, read: “The Commission has observed that your association is in breach of Section 222 (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which stipulates as follows:
“No association by whatever name called shall function as a political party unless; the names and addresses of its national officers are registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission; a close observation of your submitted form PA 1 established that it does not contain the addresses of your national officers as stipulated in the provisions above.
“Consequently, the commission shall not register the proposed African Peoples’ Congress (APC) as a political party.”
The All Progressives’ Congress, which is formed by a merger of four opposition parties,: Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change, All Nigeria Peoples Party and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance – had in January announced the name of their new party and chose the acronym, APC.
However, before it could file for registration with INEC, two other political organizations – the All Patriotic Citizens and the African Progressives’ Congress – submitted their applications for registration, also choosing the APC as their acronym.
But while the All Patriotic Citizens agreed to a change of name to avoid unpleasantness of similar acronym, the African Peoples’ Congress had remained adamant.
The All Progressives’ Congress, which has set for itself the ultimate of snatching power from the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) kept pointing accusing fingers at the PDP as being behind the emergence of the African Progressives’ Congress, in order to prevent them from being registered.
African Peoples’ Congress which pasted its posters all around Abuja had earlier in the day raised the alarm that INEC had plotted to deny them registration with alleged flimsy reasons saying that they would resist any such attempts and would also contest it up to the Supreme Court level. Its Protem National Chairman, Chief Onyinye Ikeagwuonu, had last Thursday flaunted before journalists a copy of the same letter Umenger confirmed was sent to the association on Monday, alleging that “dark forces” within INEC had perfected the plan to deny his association registration.
Umenger had on Monday said the letter shown to journalists by Ikeagwuonu was not authentic because it lacked a signature, only for him to confirm the contents of the letter to be the same as the one sent to the association.
He told our correspondent, “Yes, I am in receipt of a letter similar in content with the one you said was duly signed by INEC’s Secretary, Alhaji Abdullahi Kaugama, and it has been delivered to the addressee (African Peoples’ Congress) and one Michael Ogani signed and collected the letter and dated it March 25, 2013.
“The content is what you read to me earlier. The point of departure as I spoke with you before now was that the letter you had was not signed and because it was not signed, we could not ascertain its authenticity and because of that I declined to speak on it. But as soon as it came to my table, I felt that it was necessary to call you and inform you that I am in receipt of a letter and its content; the letter has spoken.”
In his reaction, Ikeagwuounu said that the refusal to register his association amounted to a ‘rape on democracy’ and promised to challenge the decision to court.
He said, “The requirements of the laws have been complied with and we must forewarn that any trick against our registration shall be resisted as even the same Electoral Act which empowers INEC to register or not to register political parties equally gives us power to challenge the decision of INEC at the Federal High Court, up to Supreme Court where our constitutionally compliant application to register shall be upheld by the law court.”
However, in what seemed to be informed by a premonition of the decision of INEC to deny it registration, the African Progressives’ Congress had spent Sunday night flooding the Federal Capital Territory with its posters.
Residents of Abuja, especially around Asokoro, Central Business District, Maitama, Garki and other adjoining districts woke up to find tree trunks, refuse bins, and walls of public and private houses defaced with posters of the political association.
A source close to the party told this correspondent that the promoters had already gotten wind of the decision by INEC to reject its registration as a political party.