The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of misleading Nigerians and engaging in bare-faced lies with the manipulation of facts by claiming that a ‘phantom African Peoples Congress has applied to the commission for registration.
The ACN in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated that claim by the spokesperson of INEC Chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, on the application of the African Peoples Congress as a political party is false and not supported by the relevant sections of the Electoral Act because the party has “only written a letter of intent, which has not even been discussed by INEC, not to talk of the commission taking any decision on it.”
The INEC official had stated on Monday that the African Peoples Congress has applied to the electoral body to be registered as a political party with the acronym APC which clashes with the planned political merger of a number of opposition parties. The merger; All Progressive’s Congress also bares the same APC acronym.
The opposition further adds that the phantom party is being sponsored by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in connivance with the electoral body to thwart the merger plans of the merging political parties.
According to the ACN, which is one of the merging parties, “no party today with the acronym APC has applied to INEC to be registered, adding that even the phantom African Peoples Congress – which is being sponsored by the PDP to lay claim to the acronym – has only written a letter of intent, which has not even been discussed by INEC, not to talk of the commission taking any decision on it.
”The statement credited to Mr Idowu is therefore reckless and provocative” ACN laments as it further alleges that it “clearly betrays INEC as truly having merged with the PDP to frustrate the merger of the progressives under the banner of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC).”
“One wonders who the spokesman is speaking for and what interest he represents. He should therefore be called to order before he sets the country ablaze” the statement warned.
In order to debunk INEC’s claim that the phantom African Peoples Congress has applied for registration, ACN quoted Section 78 (1) and Section 78 (2) of the Electoral Act that are relevant to party registration.
-Part V Political Parties of the Electoral Act, Section 78 (1) says: “A political association that complies with the provision of the Constitution and this Act for the purposes of registration shall be registered as a political party, provided that such application shall be duly submitted to the Commission not later than 6 months before a general election.”
-Section 78 (2) which says: “The Commission shall on receipt of the documents in fulfilment of the conditions stipulated by the Constitution immediately issue the applicant with a letter of acknowledgement stating that all necessary documents have been submitted to the Commission”
”In this case the applicants on behalf of the phantom African Peoples Congress, the clients of Legal World Chambers, have not submitted any of the documents stipulated by the Constitution to the Commission. They have only written a letter of intent and therefore INEC could not have issued them any letter of acknowledgment, not to talk of starting the process of verifying the documents.”
”At this point they cannot even be regarded as applicants. Why then did INEC through its spokesperson gleefully go to the media to proclaim that another political association has applied to be registered as African Peoples Congress using the same acronym APC?” ACN asked.
The party further called attention to Section 78 (6) of the Electoral Act, which says “an application for registration as a political party shall not be processed unless there is evidence of payment of administrative fee as may be fixed from time to time by the Commission”
ACN said it is aware that the applicants in question have not even paid any administrative fees and therefore INEC could not have commenced processing their application, because there is no application before INEC as they have only written a letter of intent.
”The INEC spokesperson who announced to the world that another political association has applied to be registered as APC is therefore definitely being paid by the PDP to mislead Nigerians, subvert extant regulations and scuttle the proposed merger of the ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC. He should immediately be called to order before he sets the country ablaze,” the party said.
He said what has emerged over the registration issue is that INEC is in cahoots with the PDP to stampede the merging parties to commit errors and also intimidate them to drop the acronym APC.
It however stated that ”as of today in accordance with the provisions of S. 78 (2) and S. 78 (6) of the Electoral Act as explained above, there is no applicant on record for the acronym APC, contrary to the deceit being spread by the INEC spokesman.”
INEC’s Knowledge of Merger Plans
ACN also alerted Nigerians to the fact that INEC has had a constructive knowledge of the merger plan and the existence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for a long time, going by statements credited to the INEC spokesman both in the print and the electronic media.
On Feb. 17th 2013, Mr. Idowu was quoted and reported to have said that the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) remained a political association, even though it is yet to be recognized by the commission.
“By law, we do not expect APC to come to INEC. The political parties that are fusing into another party will individually and respectively come back to INEC, notifying us that they are fusing into a party with a new identity,” ACN quoted Mr. Idowu to have said told a newspaper.
”The same Idowu also told TVC news on Feb. 8th 2013 that INEC was expecting the leadership of the All Progressives’ Congress to apply for formal documentation. With these statements, it is clear that INEC has always had a constructive knowledge of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) since the merger plan started, and that the emerging party did not have to do anything until all the component parties have held their conventions and ratified the constitution, manifesto and logo of the APC.”
”We are therefore using this medium to assure the millions of our supporters within and outside Nigeria that there is no cause for alarm. The merger process is on course. The All Progressives’ Congress that is the legitimate people’s APC will berth safely and deliver Nigerians from the oppressive yoke of the PDP.”
It however called for vigilance on the part of all progressive forces across the country, ”especially because we have it on good authority that a top official of INEC has boasted that the emergence of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) will be frustrated at all costs”.