9th July, 2010
Violence and thuggery have marredÂ the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party, PDP, local government primaries in Cross River State, South-South Nigeria.
The local government election in the stateÂ is scheduled for 28 August, 2010.
The violence makes a complete mockery of the alleged renunciation of cultism by elected and appointed officials in the state.
Since Saturday, 3 July when the primaries for councillors took place,Â there have been violent clashes as aspirants and their supporters have been engaging one another in physical combats and knife fights.
Failure to obey simple party rules and the insistence of big wigs to have their candidates win the primaries are responsible for the violence.
In Calabar South, the battle between Orok Duke, the House of Assembly member representing the area and Ewa Henshaw, one of the chairmanship aspirants, left many people injured during a fight on Saturday at Ward Five, where Orok Duke and Ewa Henshaw battled to have their cronies have the upper hand in the primaries.
In Yala, in the northern part of the state, the battle between the cronies of Mr. John Odey, the Minister for Environment and Senator Greg Ngaji, the senator representing the Northern Senatorial District left cars damaged while many people sustained injuries.
Their anchor men, Mr Julius Okputu, who is the state the Commissioner for Environment and Tom Agi, the secretary on Road Maintenance, are leading the fight on behalf of their principals.
â€œFor the first time in my life I saw how wood was sounding gbo gbo on somebodyâ€™s body, and blood was flowing like water,â€ Mr Ukachi Idagu, a resident of Yahe told P.M.NEWS about the fight that took place in Yahe Primary School,Â venue of the election.
In Wanokom Police Station, where materials for Ukele Constituency in Yala were supposed to be distributed, there was so much violence that the police and electoral officials from Calabar had to flee into the bush.
During the violent clash, the councillor representing Wanihem Ward was macheted on the head and blood gushed out while he was fighting to take possession of the electoral materials. Also, the vehicle of Stanislaus Opkutu, who works with the Ministry of Environment, with registration number AO1 1355 had its tyres and windshield destroyed by angry youths when he allegedly attempted to hijack materials.
In Yakurr, Dr. Otu Abam Ubi, a Commissioner in the Ministry of Local Government was severely beaten up by youths when he allegedly attempted to influence victory for his candidate.
In Etung, the fight between the supporters of one of the aspirants, Jerry Ebam, allegedly attacked the state secretary of the party, Ntufam Orji whose house at the State Housing Estate in Ikom, had earlier been razed by irate youths some weeks back over his support for Etim John whom they claim is an Igbo man.
â€œHow can he give what belongs to us to his brother an Igbo man, claiming that he has lived here since his youth? Can any of us go to Igboland and claim that right?â€ Etam Efraya asked while speaking withÂ P.M.NEWS.
In Boki, Atta Ochinke, Imokeâ€™s Special Adviser on Legal Matters and Sunny Abang, Nigeriaâ€™s Ambassador to Jamaica, are locked in a superiority battle to pick their candidates.
Of the 137 wards in the state, the primaries were cancelled in over thirty of them with the delegates asked to come over to Calabar for the election.
At the Cultural Centre Board, venue of the election on Wednesday, Alsatian dogs were used to keep the restive aspirants and their supporters in check. Yet, elections were still inconclusive in wards like Wanikade, Wanihem and Yala Nkum where the leaders kept grandstanding until it was well over midnight.
Already, crowds have converged this morning at the Cultural Centre Board for the conduct of the primaries in the remaining wards.