The promoter of All Patriotic Citizens (APC), Mr. Oliver Chidi Ike, Friday said fellow promoters of the party has decided to withdraw their application for registration in view of "the on-going controversy on the acronym APC".
This withdrawal emerged as the African People’s Congress (APC) alleged yesterday that it has uncovered a plot by some unidentified persons said to be inspired by the merging opposition parties to attack and possibly eliminate its key officers.
The yet-to-be registered party, which is presently dogged by an identity crisis with the opposition merging parties, which have adopted the name All Progressives Congress (APC), alleged that the plot came to light barely 24 hours after unveiling its national headquarter, logo, manifesto and constitution.
However, one of the leading members of the opposition coalition, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) said it would never join issues with an unknown body masquerading as a political group.
The All Patriotic Citizens In a statement issued yesterday and signed by five members of its National Working Committee said they were not desperate to answer the name for which it had sought to be registered.
The statement reads: "That we have resolved to forward to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) a letter withdrawing our application with the acronym APC because we are patriotic Nigerians that have genuine concern for the plight of Nigerian masses, but we will continue to seek registration under another name.
"This is to avoid politics of bitterness and to build a new, united and prosperous Nigeria under good democratic governance.
"That we have observed that some existing political parties have already announced to the world to merge and answer All Progressive Congress (APC) as a political party which incidentally has the same acronym with our proposed party, hence the need for this withdrawal."
All Patriotic Citizens (APC) had on March 8, 2013 applied to INEC for registration.
The group had stated in the application to INEC: "I humbly request for the approval of INEC for our political group known as All Patriotic Citizens (APC) to function as a political party.
"All Patriotic Citizens was formed two years ago as a pressure group. The above is for your information and necessary action, sir."
The National Publicity Secretary of ACN, Alhaji Lai Muhammed who spoke to THISDAY yesterday on the phone, likened the role being played by the rival political group to that of the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) during the General Ibrahim Babangida regime.
“We will not grant them a reply as that would mean dignifying them and giving them unmerited relevance. When the real masquerade behind them comes out, we will consider whether it is worth responding to them; but definitely not these errand boys.
“The new group is not dissimilar to the Association for Better Nigeria set up by the Babangida regime to scuttle the popular election won by late Moshood Abiola. We all know what happened to ABN. It ended up ingloriously. The same fate will befall the African People's Congress," he said.
But as the two APCs continued in their diatribe against one another, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has clarified its position on the registration of the coalition of opposition parties – All Progressives Congress – and the African People’s Congress, stating it is yet to process the application for registration submitted by the latter.
African People's Congress, in a statement signed by its acting National Secretary, Mr. Sa’id Balogun, alleged that some hoodlums had tried to attack its acting National Chairman, Chief Onyinye M. Ikeagwuonu, at the party secretariat, shortly after an appraisal meeting that followed the unveiling of its office in Abuja on Thursday.
“After the elaborate event and appraisal meetings and stakeholders’ interaction that followed at the national headquarter, most officers of the party left the secretariat late yesterday (Thursday).
“At about 10.15 pm when an officer of the party, Hon. Dan Iloabanafo and some administrative staff were getting ready to close the secretariat for the day, two men came round the backside of the office claiming they wanted to register as members of the party, a trend that has become common place in the secretariat, but Iloabanafo advised them to come back the next day or any other week day.
“The hoodlums insisted they preferred to be registered immediately, and while the party officer was trying to explain things to them, they pulled out guns and demanded the whereabouts of the acting chairman who had left the secretariat earlier,” he said.
Balogun said after moving from one office to the other and satisfying themselves that the acting chairman was not in the office, the gunmen left, muttering words that were barely audible.
He said the actions of the gunmen suggested that there were other highly placed persons complicit in the plot.
The acting secretary said no amount of intimidation or harassment can deter the group from pursuing what it called its lofty goals and aspirations.
“We are too busy to engage in hollow exchanges as initiated yesterday by Chief Tom Ikimi, who fruitlessly shopped for excuses, claims and assertions to justify their failure and political inadequacies.
“As the ‘assemblage of windpipes’ which the merger group represents, Ikimi rushed off to the press on learning of the unveiling of the African People’s Congress and our firmness of purpose to ventilate a most pedestrian assertion such that can only be expected of school-age children or demented teenagers.
“As their helter-skelter search for means to undermine the African People’s Congress continues, we wish to alert Nigerians of their grand plot of smuggling a back dated application for registration into the INEC, an action that could plunge Nigeria’s democracy into the woods of lawlessness. For the African People’s Congress, that is most unacceptable.
“It is indeed pathetic that same people that claim to pursue the deepening of democracy cannot abide by the letters of the constitution and due process.
“While the merger racketeers continue to fiddle, the African People’s Congress leadership would be paying a visit to the victims of the Madalla bomb blast this weekend as an expression of our people-centred objectives.
“In anticipation of the issuance of our certificate of registration, a meeting of national officers of the party would hold at the party’s headquarters next week to commence mobilisation and sensitisation of Nigerians, preparatory to the launch of our about to be registered party," he added.
INEC in a statement issued by its Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Kayode Idowu, has clarified that it is yet to process the application for registration submitted by the African People’s Congress.
While acknowledging that it had informed THISDAY earlier in the week that it had received the application for registration from the party (African People’s Congress), it never advised or came to the conclusion that the promoters of merging parties – All Progressives Congress – would have to get a new name for their party.
The commission said it could never have offered such advice since it is yet to even process the application for the proposed African People's Congress.
“Besides, it is obviously not in INEC’s place to advise promoters on the names to choose for their parties.
“Rather, the commission’s duty is to subject all applications for registration to the explicit provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended); and to take dispassionate decisions concerning such applications on the strict basis of compliance with, or default from those legal provisions,” INEC stated.