By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
CHief Onyinye Ikeagwuonu is the National Chairman of All peoples Congress which was recently refused registration as a political party by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. In this interview, he argues his case for registration, insisting that the group would get justice in the courts. Excerpts:
Why are you insisting on the acronym APC?
What is important here is who first of all thought of that name. Is it somebody who started jumping around the press or somebody who thought of it some two years ago and decided to find out how does one go about registering a party.
But I was never bothered because I was sure that nobody can register a political party on the pages of newspaper so nobody will say having known that somebody is trying to use that name, nobody wrote us to say gentlemen never think about any other name or never think about APC because we shall eventually register APC so it is not true to say we chose APC having known somebody has already started thinking of it. We thought about it before them.
The alliance of opposition parties claim that they gave constructive notice of their ownership of the acronym through their press conference on April 6 before anyone heard about your plans?
The provisions of the Electoral Act is very clear on the notice to INEC when you want to register a political party, it is very clear in Section 78, you have to notify INEC formally, there is noting like constructive notice, it is very explicit that there must be a formal application which we did, so there is no how they should be talking about intellectual property, intellectual property can only arise when there is a right.
In this case there is no right and right can only arise if you have made a formal application. After our own application, another group made an application to INEC and INEC notified them that we have already written them so that will show you that we complied with the provision of the Electoral Act.
Now that INEC has refused your application, what are your options?
The situation is just like we warned the day we had the hint that some people had wormed their way into INEC. We will go and seek court redress that is the position now.
Is it true that some of the addresses your national officers presented to INEC do not exist?
It is not and I am sure INEC did not say that. They even said that we have no address that the national officers had no address. Of course we have address. At our press briefings we disclosed those things and INEC have the copies of these addresses.
How can this controversy be resolved?
I don’t think that there is any controversy there. I have never been bothered because I know this intellectual property they are claiming, lawyers know more about that, even the Jega who comes from the academia should also know more than some of us on intellectual property. You don’t talk about intellectual property when there is no right already granted.
Before ever we pushed in our materials, we did search and discovered that there was no APC anywhere and of course you know, INEC couldn’t have even accepted our application, they couldn’t have even supplied us with the materials with which we filled the forms.
You have vowed to contest the 2015 general elections. What gives you the confidence?
We have the confidence because we believe that the court will vindicate us and when they do that we will still go to the polls.
If INEC still refuses to register the African Peoples Congress, what will you do?
I think the ball game has gone beyond INEC wanting to register or not registering, what we are talking about is what the court will say. I know the kind of court we have today will not say another group has the intellectual property of the acronym APC.