Fresh hurdles dog APC as APGA, rival APC

By The Rainbow

Fresh hurdles have emerged to dog the registration of the ALL Progressives Congress as a political party. The  All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and a political group that has APC as its acronym, African People's Congress, have raised issues over the registration.

APGA is riled by the use of its logo in an advertisement by the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola,  congratulating the party for the won battle over registration.

APGA Thursday directed its lawyers to sue Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, alleging that he mischievously dragged it into the merger of the three parties that formed the APC. The three are Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

African People's Congress on its part said that it still holds legitmate claim to the acronym APC since its battle over registration is still in court.

APGA alleged  that Fashola planned to cause confusion in APGA through a newspaper advertisement he placed Thursday, congratulating APC on being registered.

APGA expressed shock on the use of its logo in the advert along with those of the other two parties.

The National Chairman of APGA, Victor Umeh, at a press conference on Thursday, demanded that Fashola should within seven days do a retraction in an advertorial, removing its logo in all the newspapers where the earlier publication appeared Thursday.

Umeh also demanded  that the governor must be made to pay damages of N20 billion for allegedly causing confusion and attempting to steal the supporters of the party through the advertorial.

Umeh noted that while his party had congratulated APC on scaling INEC's registration hurdles, it would resist any deliberate attempt by the new political grouping or its officials to deceive its members and cause confusion in the APGA.

He said that Fashola as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) could not claim to be unaware of the fact that APGA was not among the three parties that merged into the APC.

According to him, unlike the three parties that merged, APGA was never involved in any convention where it decided to dissolve into the APC.

Umeh added: 'Of course, the clear intention of this advertorial is to give the impression that APGA is now part of the new APC and that APGA is no longer a political party.   Coming from a Senior Advocate of Nigeria like Fashola, it shows that the governor knows the implications of what he has done, and this we will not accept from him and the APC.

'He is also aware that at no time did any APGA official appear in any meeting where merger talks were held. He is also aware that we recently made it clear to Nigerians that APGA was never part of the merger talks and will never be part of it. But surprisingly this morning (yesterday), mischievously our logo has been so fraudulently included in these advertorials with an intention to deceive all the supporters of APGA in Nigeria and the world that we have now become part of APC.

'The INEC Thursday while announcing the registration of APC named the parties that merged as CPC, ANPP and ACN. Accordingly, INEC has withdrawn the certificates of these three parties. How could a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who is also a governor of a state, go and insert APGA logo in such a publication?

'Politics of confusion must be avoided in Nigeria. We must do things within the law. The merging political parties are clearly known because ACN, CPC and ANPP had separate conventions where they agreed to dissolve into APC. We want the APC to pursue politics within the approved decorum; they should know that it is not by force to join a merger.'

Declaring the African People's Congress' stand on the lingering struggle for the ownership of the authentic APC acronym, its chairman, Chief  Onyinye Ikeagwuonu, said: 'As long as our case is in court, the acronym, APC, is not yet available as the process of registration, which ends with a judicial review, is still ongoing.

'Nigerians must note that INEC fully acknowledged that we were the first to apply with the name, APC, and are fully in court with us over our move to upturn the decision to deny us registration.'

According to him, INEC's decision to go ahead with the registration of the All Progressives Congress was tantamount to a breach of the rule of law.

Claiming that the African People's Congress fully complied with registration requirements, he wondered what was the rationale behind INEC's refusal to register the party but rather went ahead to do so for a group, whose acronym was similar to theirs.

He, therefore, wondered what would become of the registered APC, if the court judgment was delivered in favour of the African People's Congress.

He said: 'What will happen to INEC and the merger parties when the court gives judgment in our favour and reinstates our right over the APC acronym?'

Ikeagwuonu alleged that with the 'purported' registration of the All Progressives Congress as a political party, it became obvious that Attahiru Jega and his officials at INEC had succeeded in plunging the country's democratic process into chaos.

On the 2014 Anambra gubernatorial polls, Ikeagwuonu said that following due consultation with the party's legal team across the country, 'we must send out this clear signal that the African People's Congress is going on with its preparations for the election as we are hopeful of the positive outcome of our action in court and nobody can stop our candidate from participation.'

He wants only the APC Acronym to be featured on the ballot paper so that any of the parties that wins in court will inherit the mandate if the APC wins the Anambra governorship election.