The party said its convention will still hold on April 8.
The All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, has said it will go ahead with its national convention slated for April 8, despite initial objections raised by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The party also asked its members opposed to the proposed convention to join it in the plan to convene the event to elect national officers will be picked, or risk losing their membership.
INEC, had in response to a letter from the Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, who is also the deputy leader of APGA, rejected the request by the party to organize the convention, saying the governor has no power to make the request on the party’s behalf.
In the letter dated March 1, reference No INEC/DPPM&L/003T titled “Re: Notice for the Conduct of Congress/Convention for the Election of PRTY Executives of Our Party,” INEC said that “the power to convene a meeting of any organ of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is vested in the Chairman of that body.”
“The Commission cannot accede to your request to convene any convention or congresses,” the Commission concluded in paragraph 3 of the letter.
The acting National Chairman of the APGA, Maxi Okwu, explained, in a statement on Monday, that Mr. Obi’s request to INEC was occasioned by the urgent need to save the party, following the February 8 court judgement, which declared the position of the national chairman of the party vacant.
“It was obviously with a view to save the party which had been literally decapitated that the face of APGA, Governor Peter Obi, sought to intervene and save the party,” Mr. Okwu said.
“By the provisions of Article 10 (2) (xxxviii) of the party constitution, Governors and their Deputies produced by the party are ex-officio members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party. They were not elected by the Convention and therefore could not have been affected by the judgment of 8th February 2013.
“INEC had a contrary view, as law abiding citizens we had the option to accept it or test the matter in court. We chose however to remedy the situation after better legal opinion.
Contrary to the position of INEC the power to convene a national convention is vested on the NEC. See Article 22(1) of the constitution of APGA duly filed with INEC.
“It was on the strength of this that on 11th March 2013, a notice of convention slated for 8th April 2013, pursuant to section 85 of the Electoral Act 2011 (as amended), was duly served on INEC. The resolution to issue this notice was made at an emergency meeting of the rump NEC of the party at a meeting on 8th March 2013 at Awka. See Article 22(2)c of the APGA Constitution.”
Mr. Okwu asked party members opposed to the convention to join in the plan to convene the convention or risk pushed out of the party, insisting that only the court could stop it from going ahead with the event.
“We are satisfied that the convention of 8th April 2013 of our great party to elect a brand new NEC would hold. Only a court order can stop it now, and as we speak there is no such court order. We would advise the opposition to retrace their steps and join the new movement in the party. No amount of spin or subterfuge can stop this moving train. Get on board or get out of the way,” he stated.
Throwing more light on the issue, Mr. Okwu told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview that INEC is yet to respond to the fresh request by the party to organize the April 8th convention after rejecting Mr. Obi’s letter.
He, however, said the party will go ahead with the plan whether the commission responds or not.
On what happened at the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal when the appeal of the former National Chairman, Victor Umeh came up for hearing, Mr. Okwu said the party was surprised to notice that a special panel of the court was set up to hear the matter.
“We were surprised to notice that a special panel of the Court of Appeal had been constituted and sent down to take the matter. This was totally strange as we could not see what was so special about this case to warrant the composition of a special panel. Secondly it was done without notice to the respondent,” the acting chairman said.
He added, “The matter was called and the panel without satisfying itself that the respondent had been served, proceeded to hear Umeh’s Counsel on a motion to stay the execution of the judgment of the Court below.
“It took the frantic efforts of sympathizers who called the respondent Okuli Jude Ejike who then made a dramatic appearance. Somehow he managed from the public gallery to draw the attention of the court after which he was duly served. The next thing was for this panel to adjourn for ruling.”