BY PETER OKUTU
At least one person was wounded and five vehicles destroyed by a mob, weekend, in Abakaliki during the re-run of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, House of Representatives’ primaries for Afikpo North West and Afikpo South East constituency seats of Ebonyi State.
Trouble started when supporters of one of the aspirants, Chidi Ejem, rejected overtures by the leadership of the party to return the favoured candidate without actual voting by delegates.
The election was moved to the Abakaliki Township stadium, following postponement occasioned by breakdown of law and order, caused by disputes over the delegates list by delegates from Afikpo North who alleged that the party leadership wanted to exclude them to provide easy victory for an anointed aspirant.
Reacting to the confused outcome of the primaries, PDP state chairman, Dave Umahi, disclosed that the re-run was ordered by the National Working Committee of the party, following the discovery of mutilations on the result sheets after the original primaries.
Umahi explained that while delegates from Afikpo North West complied with the peaceful negotiations to beat the deadline set by INEC, those from Afikpo South East rejected the terms.
Both Umahi and Isu stressed the importance of peaceful resolution of conflicts arising from the primaries, saying there was compelling need to have the party go into the general election as a united force.
Chairman of the election monitoring committee from Abuja, Torti O. Torti, stated that what they were mandated to do was to ensure that due process was followed, pointing out that what happened on the first day of the re-run primaries was a sham.
According to him, if the first attempt was faulty, it will be condemnable to repeat the same mistake.
However, despite assurances by the chairman that the primaries would hold the following day without incidents at the Township Stadium, delegates from Afikpo South East went wild, following breakdown of negotiations to have Chidi Ejem step down for Blaise Orji.
Though the leadership of Afikpo North East, including the council chairman, Anthony Ekoh, jnr, Muddi Erhenede and member representing Afikpo North and South in the House of Representatives, Chris Omo Isu, acquiesced to the peace overtures by PDP leaders, supporters of Chidi Ejem refused to yield, insisting that the election must hold.
Consequently after delegates from Afikpo North West finished casting their votes for Pedro Eloi, delegates from Afikpo South East decided to boycott voting, only to lay siege on the gate leading to the stadium, pelting stones and barricading the entrance.