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1 die, 4 arrested at PDP chairmanship primaries in Abia

The Abia State Police Command said one person died during a violence that broke out during Wednesday’s chairmanship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.

The command’s spokesman, Ogbonnaya Nta, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Umuahia, the state capital, on Thursday.

Nta said the deceased, identified as Onyemaechi and a member of staff of Isialangwa North Local Government, venue of the election, died in a fire that engulfed the chairman’s office.

The deceased reportedly died when the office was allegedly set on fire by aggrieved delegates.

Nta disclosed that the command had arrested four persons in connection with the mayhem.

Eyewitness account had it that trouble broke out when some delegates who came for the poll at the council headquarters in Okpuala-Ngwa, rejected the list presented by the party’s officials who came to conduct the exercise.

It was learnt that the group, which threatened to disrupt the exercise, alleged that the list was “doctored” to favour a particular aspirant.

The agitation was said to have caused confusion and tension at the venue.

The eyewitness said in the midst of the crisis that ensued, “somebody sneaked into the chairman’s office with a jerry can of petrol and set the place ablaze.

“The intention was to burn the disputed list,” the account said, adding that the fire escalated, killing one person on the spot.

Nta said three other occupants of the office sustained serious burns and were rushed to hospital for treatment.

He said the command had commenced investigation into the matter.

NAN reported that the primaries organised to elect the party’s flagbearers for the December 17 local government election in the state, was stalemated in most of the 17 council areas due to violence.

There were also allegations of attempts by some powerful politicians to impose their “anointed’’ candidates.

Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Don Ubani, denied the allegations in a telephone interview, but admitted that there were “minor skirmishes during the exercise in some local government areas.”

Ubani said the party’s leadership was still reviewing the reports of the election committees.