APC to stage peaceful protest to INEC headquarters
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has announced it will stage a peaceful procession to INEC headquarters in Abuja on Thursday to register its disapproval of the Commission's string of failures in conducting recent elections, including the Delta Central Senatorial District bye-election and the 'inconclusive' Anambra Governorship poll.
In a statement issued by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party vowed to proceed with the march, despite the illegal move by the police to stop it.
'We are doing this as a patriotic service to the nation because INEC as presently constituted is not capable of organizing a free and fair election again in Nigeria. If the Commission is not checked, its incompetence and conniving acts could plunge the country into chaos of unimaginable proportions,' it said.
APC explained that ahead of the march, it wrote a letter to the FCT police command to inform it of the planned procession and to request for police escort to forestall a possible hijacking of the march by sponsored hoodlums.
'To our dismay, however, the FCT Police Commissioner did not only turn down our request for police escort but also cheekily advised us to restrict our activity to holding a press conference within our party headquarters to convey our grievances to INEC .
'We reject this very patronizing directive from the partisan FCT police command and hereby states that in exercise of our constitutional rights, the leadership of the APC will go ahead with its planned peaceful procession on Thursday, the 28th of November, to express our dissatisfaction with the corruption-ridden INEC and to pass a vote of no confidence on the Commission,' the party said.
It said the police should not mistake its letter to the security agency as a request for permission to stage the procession, since the law has said no such permission is required.
'When we wrote this letter, we were quite aware of the ruling of the Appeal Court affirming the decision of Justice Chinyere of the Abuja Federal High Court the in the case of All Nigeria Peoples Party vs Inspector General of Police (2006) CHR 181 which said, inter alia: 'If as speculated by law enforcement agents that breach of the peace would occur, our Criminal Code has made adequate provisions for sanctions against breakdown of law and under so that the requirement of a permit as a conditionality to holding meetings and rallies can no longer be justified in a democratic society.'
'Being mindful of the position of the law on this issue but as a law abiding and a patriotic political party, we nonetheless in our said letter asked the police to provide us with escort during the procession, in line with international best practices. That the police turned down this request speaks volumes about its disdain for the rule of law.
'We will not be deterred by the blatantly-partisan police, who have missed another great opportunity to affirm their neutrality and respect for the rule of law. We will use this march to prove the point that we shall not condone a Police Command, however partisan or corrupt, abridging our constitutional rights.
'While we shall do all in our powers to make Thursday's procession to INEC as peaceful as possible, Nigerians and the entire world should hold the FCT police command responsible for any breakdown of law and order that may be occasioned by their unprofessional, partisan and illegal action,' the APC said.