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APC raises alarm over alleged plan to scuttle registration

By The Citizen
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The All Progressives Congress (APC)'s dream of securing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)'s approval to become a political party is running into troubled waters with the party alleging that INEC is 'shifting the goal post' and looking for reasons to abort the formal registration.

APC averred that going by the provisions of the Electoral Act, it is now formally registered as a party.

But INEC spokesman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, dismissed APC's allegations that INEC plans to stop its registration 'as baseless and false.'

Idowu asked: 'Did the APC members also inform you that we have been in constant touch with them in correspondences and visits to the offices they indicated as their address?'

Saying they have satisfied all the requirements of the law regarding the merger, a source in one of the merging parties, alleged in Abuja that it is as if INEC is 'playing games to stop the registration.

He added: 'Some of the members of the INEC Commission are card-carrying members of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and they are coming under increasing pressure to stop the registration of APC.'

The APC is an alliance by Nigeria's three biggest opposition parties - the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

APC's request for merger dated June 5, 2013 was followed up with a letter from INEC on June 12 requesting for, among others, 35 copies each of the APC's constitution and manifesto. The APC replied INECĀ on July 1, this year submitting the documents requested.

Now, APC sources are alleging that going by the provisions of the Electoral Act, their party stands registered.

The source said: 'Section 4 of the Electoral Act states that 'On receipt of the request for merger of the political parties, the Commission shall consider the request and if the parties have fulfilled the requirements of the Commission and this Act, approve the proposed merger and communicate its decision to the parties concerned before the expiration of 30 days from the date of the receipt of the formal request, provided that if the Commission fails to communicate its decision within 30 days, the merger shall be deemed to be effective.'

Now, APC is saying in Abuja that because it submitted its formal request for merger on June 12, 2013, it stands registered, going by the above prescription.

Sources within the APC told The Guardian that the party is apprehensive that INEC may not act on the proposed merger, hinging it on the court case by the All Peoples Congress which is contesting the acronym APC with the All Progressive Congress.

Another source said: 'We learnt that INECĀ  is planning to write to us (APC) by Monday and their trick for not registering us is to ask us to seek a new name as there is a court case over the acronym. But INEC cannot pre-empt what the court would want to do. It is intriguing.'

On the effective date of APC's application for merger, the INEC chairman's spokesman asked: 'Is it proper that we should take the date of application from the day APC wrote INEC for recognition in merger, or on the day they furnished the Commission with the necessary documents?

'I am sure the proper date is the one they submitted the required documents and with such date in mind, the 30 days stipulated by the Electoral Act has not expired.

'And even if it does, the law is also very clear that whether we write them or not, the law takes care of any ambiguity. I don't see any reason for confusion in the matter so far until the expiration of the 30 days provided for by the law.'