APGA threatens to sue APC, Fashola for wrongful association
The All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) has threatened to sue the newly-registered All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), for listing it in an advertorial as one of the four parties that merged to form the new party.
The National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, stated this on Thursday just as the African Peoples Congress described the recognition of the APC by INEC as 'a black market registration.'
Umeh, at a news conference in Abuja, gave Fashola seven days' ultimatum within which to publish a retraction in the newspapers where he published the advertorial congratulating the APC for a successful registration.
He said,' Coming from a senior lawyer, we are sure that the governor knows the obvious implications of this advertorial which we detest. It is a mischief contrived to deceive all our teaming supporters in Nigeria and worldwide that APGA has now become part of the APC. Governor Fashola cannot claim not to know that APGA never submitted itself to any merger talks with the three parties(Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change and All Nigeria Peoples Party) and other interest groups that came together to form the APC.
'He is aware that at no time did any APGA official appear in any meeting where merger talks were held. He is also aware that APGA leadership has consistently made it clear to Nigerians that it was never part of the merger talks and will never be a part of it.
'Surprisingly this (Thursday) morning, our party's logo was so fraudulently inserted in an advertorial with the intention to deceive all our supporters.'
Umeh recalled that INEC while announcing the registration of the APC named the parties that merged as the CPC, the ANPP and the ACN, adding that the commission did not say it was withdrawing the certificate of APGA, unlike the other three parties.
Umeh said, 'How could a SAN, who is also a governor of a state go and insert an APGA logo in a publication. We want to make it abundantly clear that this was a clearly orchestrated, premeditated action by Governor Fashola to deceive supporters of APGA. On behalf of our party, we are calling on Governor Fashola to publish a retraction of the advertorial removing APGA logo in all the newspapers that our logo appeared today(Thursday) within seven days.
'In addition to our demands for retraction of the publication, we are also referring the matter to our lawyers to formally write Governor Fashola to pay us N2bn in damages or face legal action.
'While we congratulate the APC for realising its dream of becoming a mega party called APC, fraudulently using APGA logo will not be accepted by our party. Politics of confusion must be avoided in Nigeria. Anybody can meet to do whatever he likes but it must be within the law. The process of merging of political parties is clearly known to everybody.
'ACN had its convention where they approved that they would become part of the APC. ANPP had a convention where its members also approved that they would become part of the APC; the same with the CPC. But APGA was not known to have organised any convention to approve joining the APC.'
Also in Abuja, one of the groups that constituted a stumbling block to the registration of the APC, the African Peoples Congress, accused INEC of favouritism.
Vowing not to relinquish the use of APC as part of its logo, it said the true ownership of the acronym was still being contested in the court.
The National Chairman of the group, Chief Onyinye Ikeagwuonu, insisted at a news conference that his members were the first to apply to INEC for registration using the acronym.
Ikeagwuonu said, 'The decision of INEC to reject our application for registration was baseless in view of the fact that we complied with the provisions of the law and provided them with the address of our national officers.'
'At the time INEC registered the APC, the acronym, APC, was not available and up till now, it is still not available as we, the original owners, are still pursuing the last phase of our registration with the ongoing judicial review which the court will soon rule on.'
He warned that when the court rules in favour of the African Peoples Congress, Jega 'would have led Nigerians into an avoidable political landmine and a monstrous political disaster that would reverberate in Nigeria's political history for years to come.'
But reacting to the allegations, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, said Jega would not join issues with Ikeagwuonu on a matter that is in court.
He said, 'My response is that INEC is reluctant to join issues with him in matters that are already before the court. INEC respects the court and because the matter is already in court, it will be very improper to take up issues in the public. We look forward to the processes in the court.'
Meanwhile, two prominent legal practitioners, Femi Falana (SAN) and Fred Agbaje, have said that INEC deserved no commendation for registering the APC.
In their separate reactions to the action, they said INEC had no choice but to register the APC as a political party.
Falana said instead of celebrating, the APC 'members should appreciate that the oppressed people of Nigeria are desperately looking for genuine and far-reaching changes.'
He said, 'The registration was anchored on the fact that the merging parties in the APC met the conditionalities stipulated by the Electoral Act. In the circumstance, kudos should go to the defunct ACN, the CPC and the ANPP. The deserving parties deserve to be congratulated for merging to challenge the dominance of a reactionary political party that has threatened to continue to capture power for 100 years.'
Agbaje, who had on Monday obtained a judgment voiding the deregistration of 28 political parties, said, ' Our people can now make unhindered choice and this is where INEC should be ashamed because it is the same INEC that is registering a new party. Meaning that INEC has no busisness deregistering political parties in the first place.
'I see the APC registration as an opportunity for Nigerians to come out en masse and join political parties of their own choice. This will ultimately deal a death blow to the political monopoly of a particular political party that has held the jugular of the nation in the last 14 years.'