INEC may suspend registration of APC
There are indications that the INEC may suspend the registration of the proposed mega opposition party, All Progressive Congress, APC. Elombah.com learnt on Friday that the decision to halt the registration was reached at a meeting involving the National Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, and other top officials of the commission last, Tuesday. It was gathered that besides putting the APC’s registration in abeyance, INEC might write the merging parties on Tuesday, to choose another name.
This, THISDAY gathered, has created a new wave of apprehension within the ranks of the merging parties and they see it as yet another plot to scuttle the registration of the APC.
A reliable source within the opposition coalition parties who confirmed the twist in the APC registration application, alleged that INEC based its decision on the pending court case by one of the rival political associations, African People’s Congress challenging the registration of the coalition’s APC.
However, leaders of the Congress for Progressive Change has said the APC will not change its name. The National Publicity Secretary of the CPC, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, told Sunday Punch in a telephone interview that no court can stop the Independent National Electoral Commission from registering the APC.
He said “It’s too late in the day for anybody to try anything funny with our registration. No court can stop INEC from registering APC.
“We have followed the proper procedure what is left is purely administrative.
“The African Peoples Congress which was set up in a hurry by the PDP was disqualified by INEC.
“We are not losing sleep because at this point, we cannot be compelled to change name when it is clear that the APC acronym is free for our use. When we get registered, anybody who has issues with, it can go to court.
According to him, the law was clear about the procedure for the registration of political parties.
This, he said, had made the registration imminent because, “the law says if after 30 days we don’t hear from INEC, we are deemed to have been registered.
“We had our various conventions and submitted our documents 27 days ago. All I can tell you now is, no shaking.”
Another APC member said: “This is a plot not to register us and it is an afterthought. Part of the plot is to ensure that nothing happens until September because the courts are going on vacation”.
When contacted, National Publicity Secretary of the ACN, Lai Mohammed said, “We will issue a robust statement tomorrow (Sunday).
Meanwhile, two senior lawyers, who spoke with PUNCH said INEC can advise the party to change its name.
Mr. Yusuf Ali (SAN) noted that since confusion over the identity of parties contesting an election was one of the factors that could lead to the nullification of the results of an election, the electoral commission would be in order if it advised a prospective party to change its name.
He said, “Two parties cannot bear the same name, just like when you are incorporating a company. INEC cannot register two names that look alike, that will confuse the electorate. INEC will be justified to ask a party to change its name if there are two parties with the same name.
“This is because one of the issues that can lead to the nullification of an election is when parties have the same name leading to confusion among the electorate.”
Also, Mr, Mike Ahamba (SAN) said INEC can ask the APC to change its name.
“They (INEC) can advise the party (APC) to change name in order to avoid a conflict.
“If I am a member of the APC and if they ask me, I would have advised them to get another name a long time ago,” Ahamba said.