Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: APC Controversy - INEC Meets Merger Parties Today

Abuja — As controversy continues to trail which political group has the acronym, APC, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, will today meet with the four merger parties possibly to resolve the crisis and also deliberate on the issues and allegations of sabotage levelled against the Commission by the contending groups.

Vanguard gathered that there was confusion in INEC as a result of the APC controversy, following allegation by the merging political parties that the Commission was working in collaboration with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to scuttle the merger plans.

In the meeting convened by INEC with the 25 registered political parties Tuesday, Vanguard gathered that the APC controversy was not part of the agenda.

It was also gathered that one of the political associations in contention, African Peoples Congress, has maintained that being the first to have applied to INEC for registration with the acronym, there was no going back.

The group also accused a serving federal commissioner with the Commission of leaking official information to the merging opposition political parties for a fee.

But the merging parties of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and a faction of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, have also accused INEC of doing everything possible to thwart their merger in collaboration with external forces.

The merger group also claimed that, having announced to the world on February 6, 2013, the proposal to merge with All Progressives Congress, with the acronym APC, they had the intellectual property of the acronym.

It was gathered that the meeting today will dwell mostly on the nitty-gritty of the controversy that had greeted the APC as an acronym and whether the merger political parties had followed the constitutional provisions on the adoption of the name.

However, an impeccable source in INEC told Vanguard that the commission was confused over the development and even the allegation of collaboration with the PDP and Presidency to scuttle the merger plan.

The source that spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the commission had remained neutral over the issue, despite the allegation, adding that the whole matter required carefulness.

He said: "The way I see that thing (the APC controversy), we have to be very careful."

He pointed out that it was clear that on February 6, 2013, the merger political parties addressed a press conference to the world over their proposal to merge with the name All Progressives Congress that has APC as its acronym, but there was no formal communication to INEC on the issue.

"A group of people which I will described as mischief makers, suddenly ran to INEC to apply for the registration of a party with APC as the acronym," the source said.

He said the commission related with the public by application and that it was not correct for INEC to use informal knowledge to deny a people that had come first to register.

"When equity is equal, the first in time prevails," he said, explaining that it did appear that the 'mischievous group' has beaten the other APC to that. The way it is going now, it will end up in court," he said.

According to him, despite the announcement of the proposed merger name by the opposition party, "The activity that was going on was not specifically addressed to INEC, rather to the world, so you can't say that INEC has formal information. Before then, there was no application to INEC.

" If they had written an application on the 6th of February to inform INEC, it will be a different matter. INEC is not in any way responsible for APC controversy," he stated.

Meanwhile the merging political parties have directed individual parties to convene a national convention which is part of the conditions for the merger.

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