Some of the merging parties are currently involved in several election petitions at various tribunals around the country.
As four opposition political parties inch towards dissolving into a single political party, lawyers say the new party, if registered, will inherit the suits they are party to, either as defendants or plaintiffs.
They also said that the suits hitherto existing between any of the four parties will be struck out by the courts or election petition tribunals entertaining such suits.
The parties that are currently negotiating merger are the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP; and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. If registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, they will be collectively called All Progressives Congress, APC.
However, some of the parties are either challenging results of elections in which they participated or are being challenged at various Election Petition Tribunals.
Among them are the petitions filed separately by ACN and CPC at the Ondo State Election Petition Tribunal against the victory of Labour Party, LP, in the October 20, 2012 Governorship Election; Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Governorship petition against ACN in Edo State;
Tunji Abayomi, a Lagos-based lawyer and a member of ACN, said it is a complex issue because this is the first time a merger negotiation between or among parties would reach this current stage.
He, however, added that election petitions involving any of the four parties will continue but will be inherited by the emerging political party, APC.
“This is a fairly complex issue,” Mr. Abayomi told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview. “But I think that the cases in relation to election matters will probably continue. I also think that the party will inherit any of the cases between any of them against other parties outside the merger.”
Yahaya Mahmoud, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the parties will agree on what happens to the suits, adding that this will be in the final agreement to be reached by the parties.
“All these things will normally be in the agreement and it is certain that the cases will be passed on to APC,” Mr. Mahmoud said.
He, however, added that “Where there will be a problem is if the parties in the merger are involved in the case.”
Also speaking, Emeka Ngige, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, drew an analogy between the ongoing merger talks and the merger between ECOBANK AND Oceanic Bank, stating that APC will inherit all the assets and liabilities of the merging parties.
He stated that while the suits any of the four parties in the merger has against others outside it will go on, those between the merging parties will naturally be struck out if the merger deal sails through.
“It is like banks merging but the cases they are having are still there. All they need to do is to apply to the court saying they have changed their names. It is like Oceanic Bank changing its name to ECOBANK. But the cases will continue. What will happen is that the suits those four parties have against themselves will not go on,” Mr. Ngige told PREMIUM TIMES.
Mike Ahamba, another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, also noted that, “The new party will inherit the suits. This is my view. Others may have different views. I believe that the suits will continue and APC will take over the cases.”
ACN became the first among the four parties to adopt the merger at its national convention last Thursday. The CPC has fixed its convention for May 11 while ANPP’s is being packaged by a 23-member committee, though the date of the event is yet to be announced.
It is, however, not clear if APGA, which is being led into the merger by the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, will hold a separate convention from that held by the Maxi Okwu-led faction two weeks ago in Awka, Anambra State.