NIGERIA: INEC Recognises Umeh as APGA Chairman

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The embattled National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh, has won the recognition of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Umeh, who was still celebrating the INEC's reprieve, addressed journalists at the party headquarters thursday, saying the  governors of Anambra and Imo States, Mr. Peter Obi and Chief Rochas Okorocha, respectively have become a problem to APGA, rather than a blessing.

   INEC, in a  letter with reference number, INEC/DPPM&L/APGA/003/ T/358,  dated  May 8, said it would continue to relate with Umeh as the  national chairman of APGA, adding that  its action is in compliance with the  ruling of the Court of Appeal, which stayed the execution of the Enugu High Court order restraining him from parading himself as the party chairman.

The commission's letter, signed by its Secretary, Abdullahi A. Kaugama, reads: " The commission notes the ruling of the Court  of Appeal, which stayed the execution of the order of the Enugu High Court that restrained Chief Victor Umeh from parading himself as the national chairman of APGA. Consequently, the commission will continue to relate with Victor Umeh as the national chairman of APGA."

Umeh, while briefing journalists on the  latest development in the  party, blamed Obi for fuelling the crisis in the party.
He also chided Okorocha  for dragging the party's name into the merger of opposition parties  in utter disregard to APGA's position on the matter.

He said  the factionalisation of the party and the uncertainties over its leadership had been laid to rest, even if temporarily.
" It will be recalled that in recent times, our party has been reported as a party that has been factionalised.  We patiently waited for INEC's response to the ruling of the appeal court over the party's leadership.

"Yesterday(Wednesday) INEC  wrote a letter to me recognising me as the chairman of APGA.  This development has also straightened things in APGA and for those who want to do business with APGA, now knows who to deal with, " he said.
He warned aggrieved party members that the leadership would no longer tolerate dissidents.

"We want to use the opportunity to thank the INEC for obeying the decisions of the court and upholding the rule of law. For this action, we applaud INEC, " he added.

On the position of APGA on the merger of opposition parties, Umeh said the party  had never been part of any merger and it would not merge with any party.

"Instead, the party is disposed to alliance talks with other parties.  Even Okorocha who has been dragging the party's name into the merger, I have advised him severally on the party's position on the merger even before he joined them.
" If Okorocha still wants to retain  the membership of APGA, he should  desist from dropping the name of the party on the issue of merger, " he added.

He explained that the party would not want to be associated with merger and  if Okorocha wanted to continue with the merger process, he should do so in his government's name.

He said the success recorded by the party in winning two states had turned into a problem for it as the governors were trying  to turn the party into their personal fiefdoms.

  Umeh canvassed for a review of the Electoral Act to allow parties to impose levies on elected officials as means of raising funds for their operations.

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