Daily Champion (Lagos)

4 January 2011

Nigeria: One Killed As Confusion Mars PDP Congresses

Residents of Anua Offot Community in Mkpot Enini local government area of Akwa Ibom State have been thrown into mourning following the assassination of House of Assembly aspirant, Dr. Joseph Akpanakpudo by gunmen.

A chieftain of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Akpanakpudo, a medical doctor at St. Luke's Hospital in the area was shot dead on New Year Eve ahead of the party's congress yesterday.

Meanwhile, the National Working Committee (NWC), of the PDP yesterday cancelled the ward's ad-hoc delegate's elections in 12 local government areas of Delta State due to alleged irregularities.

In Bayelsa State, confusion trailed congress to pick the party's candidates for the House of Assembly.

Also in Ogun State, the Electoral Panel led by Obinna Nnaji cancelled the congress following the late arrival of panel members.

However, Dr. Akpanakpudo who was expected to seek nomination during the PDP primaries yesterday was said to have been assassinated less than 72 hours to the exercise.

Our correspondent also gathered that Akpanakpudo, was shot dead about 11.30 pm Friday near his residence in Anua Uyo by assassins while returning from a crucial meeting preceding his party's nomination yesterday.

Although the cause of his death could not be ascertained at the time of filing this report, Daily Champion learnt that the assassination may not be unconnected with the contest for the Mkpat Enin state constituency.

A friend of the deceased, who spoke to our correspondent in Uyo on condition of anonymity, said his assassination was ill-motivated, describing the deceased as a humble, amiable and cheerful politician.

He said Akpanakpudo was trailed shortly after a meeting with some political stakeholders from Mkpat Enin in Uyo over the on-going party primaries in the state.

Meanwhile, his opponents in the race were said to have been invited for questioning by the police while the assassins are still at large.

Those allegedly interrogated by security agencies include the incumbent in the House of Assembly, Mr. Ekong Sampson and chairman Mkpat Enini local government area, Akparawa Mfon Nkanteen, who hails from Ikot Aba in Ikpa Ibom ward 3.

The victim was alleged to be the preferred candidate for the House seat in May, 2011 by the people of Mkpat Enin. He had contested for the position of chairmanship of the council during 2007 elections but lost to the incumbent.

Effort to speak to the State Police Public Relations Officer [PPRO] ASP Mr. Onyeka Orji on the incident was abortive but the corpse of the victim had been deposited at the morgue in Anua.

Late Akpanakpudo 40, was survived by a wife, three children and a host of relations.

Meanwhile, following the confirmation of reports of irregularities in the conduct of the ward ad-hoc delegates congresses in some councils in Delta State, the NWC of the PDP, yesterday cancelled the ward delegates elections in 12 local government areas of the State.

The affected councils are Patani, Bomadi, Burutu, Warri South West, Warri North, Isoko South, Isoko North, Warri South, Aniocha South, Ika south, Ndokwa West and Ndokwa East.

National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo has stated that he would not tolerate any form of anti-democratic activities during the party's primary.

Just last week, the NWC approved outright cancellation of congresses held in some states and re-echoed his resolve to punish those who brought about the electoral malpractices.

Nwodo had even threatened that any of the PDP members found to have recruited thugs to any meeting of the party would be expelled, but analysts are watching what he would do in the case of Oyo State where a clear case of use of thugs manifested during their congress, leading to the death of the former factional Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Lateef Salako alias Elewomo.

Yesterday the national organizing secretary of the party, Prince Uche Secondus issued a statement confirming the cancellation of the congresses in the above listed councils, adding the fresh congresses would be conducted in those places tomorrow.

Similarly, confusion has trailed the primaries of the PDP for the State House of Assembly scheduled for yesterday as the party officials failed to conduct a free and fair election to elect its candidates.

The state party secretariat located along Ovom in the state capital was guarded by armed soldiers attached to the Joint Military Taskforce (JTF) and mobile policemen as some party supporters waited patiently for the arrival of voting materials.

Armoured tank suspected to belong to the JTF was seen patrolling around the party secretariat and its environs on Monday.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the 24 candidates billed for the Assembly had already been compiled before the primaries.

A source in party secretariat said that the materials for the primaries were hijacked by some top government officials, describing the development as undemocratic.

In an interview, State Publicity Secretary of PDP, Ene Ketebu,at about 1.05pm said the party was still expecting the voting materials from Abuja.

A visit to some constituencies in Yenagoa, which includes Ogbia and Kolokuma/Opokuma local governments, indicated that no primaries were conducted in the areas.

Meanwhile, controversies yesterday, trailed conduct of the party's primaries held for the selection of House of Assembly candidates in Ogun state.

Chairman of the panel for the conduct of House of Assembly primaries Hon. Obinna Nnaji arrived around 3:00 pm and met with the chairman of the party Elder Joju Fadairo at the party secretariat Kuto Abeokuta yesterday.

He attributed the late arrival of the committee members to the fact that they had a delay in flight from Abuja maintaining that the committee members were in possession of original materials to be used for the exercise

Nnaji said he had earlier sent a message to the leadership of the party not to conduct the exercise until their arrival from Abuja lamenting that despite the warning the state's party executive committee went ahead to conduct the exercise

He said "it is the duty of the PDP election committee to authenticate all that has to do with the conduct of the exercise in order to ensure its credibility" Nnaji said

However the conduct of the exercise did not hold without its shortcoming as a parallel body conducted its own primaries across the state

In his reaction to the parallel group led by Dayo Soremi , Nnaji said the party had nothing to do with the group

MALACHY UZENDU,Deputy News Editor, Abuja, DENNIS UDOMA,Uyo, CHINEDU WOSU, Bayelsa and KAYODE OBISANYA, Abeokuta.

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