September 28, 2009

Violence mars Anambra PDP congress

By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA  — THE ward congress of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Anambra State for the election of the party’s gubernatorial candidate in the state for the 2010 elections was marred, yesterday, by violence with supporters of rival governorship aspirants engaging one another in physical combat.

Already, some of the party members are calling for the cancellation of the exercise.
Though there was a large turnout of members of the party in almost all the 326 wards in the state as early as 8:00am, information in circulation that the exercise had been shifted from 11 am to 4 pm and that venues of the congress in many wards had been changed, created confusion in many areas.

The physical combat by rival supporters was triggered by allegations and counter-allegations that money was changing hands while they were waiting for officials of the congress committee to arrive.

For instance, a coordinator for one of the frontline governorship aspirants in Ihiala whose name was given as Afam Onumkwo was thoroughly beaten for allegedly trying to convince some of the party members to vote for his candidate in Ogboro ward 5 in the area.

Onunkwo, whose dress was torn to shreds, told Vanguard that he also lost N10,000 cash, his PDP membership card and a mobile phone, though the phone was later recovered. He also complained that some people came to the venue of the congress to say that it was moved from Uzoigwe Primary School which had been their traditional voting place, to St Stephen’s Primary which is in another ward.

Coordinator of the Soludo Campaign Organization for Orumba, Mr. Emma Ezume said the change of venue was not part of the original arrangement, adding that his group would not accept the outcome of the exercise if it was not transparent.

Places that recorded some kind of violence also included Enugu Nanka Ward 2, Ajali Ward 3 all in Orumba and Nimo Ward in Njikoka local government.

At Abagana Ward 1, the exercise commenced at 3 pm and three people were elected there.

Officials of the congress committee who moved to the various wards were making their returns at press time.