NIGERIA: INEC Starts Verification of Claims by Merging Opposition Parties – APC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has commenced statutory investigation of all claims and documentations submitted to it by the three opposition political parties, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) applying for merger.

Tuesday’s inspection visit by INEC, came just as the Interim National Chairman of APC, Alhaji Bisi Akande, maintained that the registration of the new coalition party was forgone concluded and that no one could prevent it.

On arrival at about 10 am, the verification team led by the Director of Political Party Monitoring and Liaison, Alhaji Shittu Ibrahim, held closed door meeting with  the interim national leadership of the APC at the  headquarters, Zone 6 Wuse, in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

THISDAY gathered from sources at the meeting that apart from trying to match the leaders’ names with their faces, the commission’s officials tried to verify all documents relating to the tenancy of the new party office.

The team which declined to speak to journalists on their findings later  went round the various compartments of the two   office building before leaving.

Addressing journalist shortly after the inspection, APC National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, expressed satisfaction at the tone of exchanges between the parties and the electoral body, describing it as very good.

He said the meeting with the INEC went well and that the expectations of the merging parties were that APC would scale through the registration hurdle.

“From the beginning of these merger negotiations, we have gone to various conventions, we have made joint applications and we have been exchanging correspondence with INEC, but they have never visited us before. So today
INEC came to see us in our home, and they are happy we have got a home. When INEC team met us through our attendance register, they discovered that we belonged to a party of gentlemen, the APC.

“We have always been confident that no power under the sun will stop us from becoming a political party.  On how soon the coalition expects APC to be registered, Akande said the law was clear about it, adding that the party is already registered.

“INEC has never faulted what we did, when we wrote the first joint application, we have completed the merger phase of the exercise. INEC now needs administrative investigation to show that what we have done was according to their own laid down procedures and because they kept writing to us and we were replying them.

“Today they came for verifications as to whether we exist, and where do we exist? We have proven to them that we exist like gentlemen and in a befitting accommodation.

The National Secretary of APC, Alhaji Tijani Tunmsa, who conducted INEC officials round the offices in the party headquarters, told journalists that everything about the new party was in good shape.

“My impression of the commission’s visit is a good one. It confirms the confidence that I had in the formation of APC. The commission came expecting to see some things which we were able to deliver  today, and I think everything is in good shape,” he said

INEC spokesman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, told THISDAY Tuesday evening on the telephone that the processing of the application for party registration submitted by the merging opposition parties are still ongoing.

He confirmed that what the commission’s team that visited the merger group’s APC office Tuesday did was to verify the claim contained in their application and to report back their findings, adding that the registration process was not concluded yet.

“The application for APC’s registration is still going through routine processing and that process has not yet been concluded, “ he said

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