A fresh threat to the registration of the All Progressives Congress, APC, emerged on Friday as a faction of the Congress for Progressives Change, CPC, one of the opposition parties in the merger deal, alleged a plot by two members of Tony Momoh-led faction to connive with officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to undermine the provisions of the Electoral Act.
Dennis Aghanya, former CPC National Publicity Secretary, who now occupies the same position in the Rufai Hanga-led faction of the party, said in a statement that two former ministers in the Momoh-led executive of the party have concluded plans with two top officials of the electoral body to circumvent the stipulation of the Act concerning the return of the original certificate of the party.
The CPC is currently in merger talks with four other opposition parties, namely Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP; Democratic Peoples Party, DPP and; a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. They have since applied to INEC for registration.
However, the Hanga faction, which is not in the merger deal, having broken away before it began, claims to be in possession of the original certificate of the party- a situation that may jeopardize the registration of the merging APC.
Section 84 (5) of the Electoral Act says, “Where the request for the proposed merger is approved, the Commission shall withdraw and cancel the certificates of registration of all the political parties opting for the merger and substitute a single certificate of registration in the name of the party resulting from the merger.”
Although, the Momoh-led CPC backed by its former presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, has since sworn to an affidavit in court that the party’s certificate is missing, Mr. Aghanya, whose faction is in court challenging the emergence of the executive of the group, alleged that the two members of the other faction have doled out sums of money to the INEC officials to manipulate the process of the registration of APC.
“It has come to our knowledge that two former ministers in the Tony Momoh camp who are also at the forefront of the APC merger arrangement have concluded plans with one or two top officials of INEC to circumvent the stipulation of the electoral act concerning returning the original CPC certificate before joining the merger,” he said.
“According to our source from INEC, the former ministers have doled out huge sums of money to the affected INEC staffs who in turn promised them that they would ensure that the issue of who is in possession of the original registration certificate of CPC would be manipulated as if INEC is not aware that the Hanga CPC faction is in existence nor that there is any existing court cases pertaining to the national leadership of the CPC.”
The factional spokesman called on the security agencies to watch closely the activities of the INEC officials in order to abort their plan, insisting that the Commission “must be seen to be upright at all times.”
Mr. Aghanya noted that though the formation of APC is aimed at creating a sincere platform to wrest power from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, it (APC) may be contradicting itself by allowing some supposed men of honour to manipulate facts known to the public.
He pointed out that there will be no need to blame PDP if facts are distorted by people who, according to him, see themselves as colossus.
Mr. Aghanya said his faction of CPC has unshakeable faith in INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, adding, “We sincerely wish to advice him to watch the activities of his lieutenants very closely, especially as the polity is now heating up. We are resolved to follow up the unresolved issues of who are the authentic national leadership of the CPC up to the Supreme Court. If at all the CPC has the need to go into any form of merger or other forms of negotiation, the Sen Hanga led NEC remains the authentic leadership of the party to do so.”
CPC under-represented in merger talks
Mr. Aghanya also expressed dissatisfaction with the representation of the Momoh-led faction in APC, saying the party has not benefitted much as expected.
He said, “From the bargaining position of those who have represented the Tony Momoh group at the merger talk and the subsequent sharing of interim leadership positions, it is clear that the interest of the CPC followership is not properly represented and protected.
“The moment a group is not holding the National Chairman, Secretary or BOT Chairmanship position in such an amalgamated arrangement, it has lost out. While it may get the Presidential ticket, what is the guarantee that other members of the group at various levels can also actualize their political dream? This is politics and it is driven by personal interest.”
The spokesman of the INEC recognised CPC, Rotimi Fashakin, has however dismissed Mr. Aghanya’s claims.
“The most ludicrous thing in this razzmatazz is the way Dennis Aghanya has advertised his ignorance in the public domain. If he and his co-travelers in the perfidious endeavor of illegality clutching to a property of CPC think they will have any modicum of recognition, the law is not looking at the submission of the original copy as sine qua non to registration.
“All the submission and actions of CPC so far as pertaining to the merger are known to the law. The law equally recognizes the Tony Momoh-led Exco as legitimate to make all the transactions on behalf of CPC. So where comes the empty grandstanding of these impostors? They are best ignored because they constituted themselves as group of losers,” Mr. Fashsakin said.
Also, a representative of CPC in the Merger Committee, Osita Okechukwu, challenged Mr. Aghanya to report the bribery allegation to the police with evidence.
“It is trite law that he who alleges (Mr. Aghanya) has to prove. Methinks he is a hired hand, one of those who want PDP to rule uninterrupted for sixty years whether the party is performing or not,” Mr. Okechukwu said.