Controversy over the useof the acronym, ‘APC’, by rival political organisations took a new dimension on Monday.
In a dramatic turn of events, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) refused the African Peoples Congress registration as a political party.
The notice of refusal was contained in a letter dated March 21, 2013 and addressed to the Acting National Chairman of the association, Chief Onyinye Ikeagwuonu.
It was upon this disclosure that for the second time in five days, the African Peoples Congress addressed a press conference to alert the public to INEC’s alleged plans to deny it registration as a political party.
For weeks now, controversy has raged over which association, the merging All Progressives Congress (APC) or the African Peoples Congress “owns the ellipsis, ‘APC’.
While opposition parties claimed proprietary right of the acronym, having popularised it; the rival organisation said it had written to the INEC, using the abbreviation for its proposed party.
Although INEC admitted receiving such letter of intent from the African Peoples Congress, it denied registering any new political party as being bandied about.
However, Chief Ikeagwuonu seemed to puncture the INEC position Monday, when he displayed a copy of the letter allegedly prepared for the endorsement of INEC’s chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to halt his association’s registration.
Indeed, the said four-paragraph letter, signed by INEC’s secretary, Abdullahi Kaugama, stated unequivocally that it would not “register the proposed African People’s Congress as a political party.”
Headlined as: Re-Application For Registration As A Political Party, the letter reads: “Your application for registration as a political party dated 28th February, 2013 refers.
“The Commission has observed that your Association is in breach of Section 222(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which stipulates as follows:
‘No Association by whatever name called shall function as a Political Party unless:
(a) The names and addresses of its national officers are registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission.’
“A close observation of your submitted Form PA1 established that it does not contain the addresses of your national officers as stipulated in the above provision.
“Consequently, the Commission shall not register the proposed African People’s Congress as a political party.”
Spokesperson for the INEC chairman, Mr. Robert Kayode Idowu, confirmed the development last night, saying, “it is true that the African Peoples Congress cannot be registered because they did not meet the requirement of the Constitution.”
However, at the press conference at its national headquarters in Abuja, the association threatened to sue INEC should it carry out the alleged move.
Ikeagwuonu said: “Our attention has been drawn to a desperate effort by some paid INEC officials to conclusively consummate the black market transaction we warned about last Thursday, to deny the African Peoples Congress registration, citing purported irregularities in the addresses of our national officers.
“We had earlier alerted Nigerians about this high level conspiracy and have thus been reliably informed today, by an impeccable source, that a draft letter denying APC registration is right now on the table of the INEC chairman, waiting for his endorsement.”
The association, however, announced that it would go ahead with arrangements to field a candidate for the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Anambra State.
“We wish to also inform Nigerians that our party primaries, prelude to fielding a candidate in the Anambra state governorship election, commences as planned,” Ikeagwuonu said.