The All Progressives Congress (APC) has vowed to close down Abuja, the federal capital city, if by July 31, 2013 the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) fails to recognise it as a registered political party.
The APC is a merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), Congress for Progress Change (CPC), sections of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Democratic People’s Party (DPP).
Deputy National Secretary of the CPC and one of the major conveners of the APC, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, who reacted to strong feelings published by the media that the INEC was considering scuttling the registration of the merger party, warned that what is happening at the moment in Egypt and other countries would happen in Nigeria if the INEC decides not to register the party on the basis of any flimsy excuse.
Speaking yesterday to Sunday Independent on the issue, Obono-Obla, who represented the CPC in the interparty merger committee, said as much as the report is speculative, he believes that INEC will register the APC because it has no reason not to do so. He however warned that anything to the contrary would be seriously resisted in the streets of the country.
Obono-Obla said: “I don’t want to rely on that story. It may be speculative because I do not believe INEC would want to stand the law on the head by not registering the APC when we have complied religiously with all the procedures and all the requirements prescribed by the constitution and the Electoral Act. So, I will not want to give credence to that story. It is just a mere speculation.
“The information I have which is privileged is that INEC has given us a pass mark. They scored us 99 percent. The committee that INEC set up to go and see our secretariat and look into our papers scored us 98 percent. And INEC met on Thursday; that report was tabled before INEC and, from my source, the meeting was adjourned to Thursday next week and all things being equal, by next week INEC will make the announcement. You can put two and two together from what I have said and what you have read in that story. I believe that by Thursday when INEC reconvenes, INEC will register us.
“If there is an attempt not to do that, then we will know that our democracy is in trouble. Maybe what is happening in Egypt, Turkey and Brazil would take place in Nigeria because we are going to march to Abuja and demonstrate until we are registered. If there is any attempt to fail to register us, we are going to do that. We are going to show that we are the biggest party in Africa, not the PDP; that APC is the biggest party in Africa. We will mobile our supporters; we will storm Abuja and close it down.”
The CPC chieftain said as long as the APC was concerned, it met all the requirements set by the law and the procedures of INEC, stressing that the rival African Peoples’ Congress (APC) which he described non-existent as a registered political party cannot stop the merger party from being registered.
His words: “As I said previously, our application was submitted on the 8th of June, 2013. And section 84(6) says INEC has 30 days to take the decision, but when they fail to take the decision, at the expiration of the 30 days, the party is deemed registered.
“If you read that report, the media adviser to INEC has reacted to that story. He said the time will start to run from the 1st of July when we submitted the list of Interim National Officers. For that one the 30 days will elapse on the 31st of July 2013. I believe that by the 31st of July the party will stand registered whether or not INEC says so or not. And I do not have any cause to believe that INEC does not want to register us because of the pending case. That case does not concern us at all because there is no restraining order that says that INEC should not register us. That case is just a child’s play by some desperate people who are under the payroll of the PDP.
“What happened was that they applied for registration, but they did not comply with the law. Since they did not comply with the law, INEC has the discretion not to register them and INEC did not register them. INEC said ‘no you did not comply with our procedure.’
“Let them go to the Supreme Court; I don’t see them winning the case because that case is bluster. It is a fluke. INEC cannot rely on bluster or a fluke to deny us registration. We are not on the same pedestal with the fake APC. We are registered political parties. We are just merging to form one party. So we are not on the same level at all.”
Barring any last minute objection from INEC against the registration of APC, Prince Tony Momoh, National Chairman of the CPC, has said the APC will stand registered by Wednesday this week.
The CPC boss was reacting to reports which indicated that the merger might suffer a hitch because INEC commissioners were opposing its registration on the grounds that some parties with similar acronym were in court opposing its registration.
But Momoh said the APC would emerge as a registered party by Wednesday in line with Section 84 (4) of the Electoral Act.
It will be recalled that the merging parties had on June 6 jointly applied to INEC for the registration of APC. The electoral body on its part replied the merging parties on June 12, giving them list of demands one of which is the completion of form PA (1) which requires them to state the names and addresses of its executive officers and trustees of the new party. By July 1, the merging parties met all the conditions of INEC, including filling and submission of form PA (1) to INEC national headquarters in Abuja.
The two dates (June 6 and July 1) thus created confusion on the date that INEC was supposed to begin countdown of the 30 days window period as provided by the electoral act. It was on June 6 that the merging parties made a formal application to INEC seeking registration of the APC. But counting from that date, the 30 days window has long been exceeded. The assumption now is that INEC might be acting on the July 1 date, the day all the conditions of registration was met and submitted to it.
But Momoh said whatever date INEC was working with, the APC would stand registered by Wednesday latest. “The fact is that at the end of 30 days, APC stands registered. If they want it to run from July 1, it means that by July 30 or 31st, the party will stand registered. That is the thing. INEC is only doing administrative work. If they have anything, they should raise it. The law is very clear. If they have anything to say, they should say it and then have a reason for saying it. If it is solid, then it will be a challenge to the party’s registration otherwise they have no choice. We’ve met all their (INEC) conditions. In 30 days, the merger stands and INEC knows that,” Momoh said.