The opposition coalition party, All Progressives Congress, on Monday ‘won’ its first victory with the Independent National Electoral Commission refusing to register the African Peoples Congress, thus creating an opportunity for the coalition platform to register its preferred acronym, APC.
The INEC said promoters of the African Peoples Congress failed to meet the requirements for the registration of parties and that the association breached Section 222 (a) of the 1999 Federal Constitution, as amended.
The Commission’s Director of Information, Emmanuel Umenger, confirmed that a letter signed by INEC’s Secretary, Alhaji Abdullahi Kaugama, refusing the association registration had been sent to the promoters.
A copy of the letter, obtained by our 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 Progressive Congress, formed by four opposition political 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.
But before the opposition parties could file their papers before INEC, two other associations – African Peoples Congress and All Patriotic Citizens –had submitted applications choosing APC as their acronym too.
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, with an avowed mission to dislodge the ruling Peoples Democratic Party from power, had accused the PDP of sponsoring the African Peoples Congress in order to spoil the show for the opposition.
Curiously, the Protem Chairman of the African Peoples Congress, 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 earlier on Monday said the letter shown to journalists by Ikeagwuonu was not authentic because it was not signed.
He later confirmed the content of the letter as the same as the one sent to the rejected association.
He told: “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.”
Reacting to the development on Monday, Ikeagwuonu said the refusal to register his association was a rape on democracy and threatened to challenge the decision in 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.”