Some suspected arsonists on Friday set the Rivers State Peoples Democratic Party secretariat in Port Harcourt on fire.
The building, located along the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway, would have been completely burnt down if not for the quick intervention of residents around the place.
It was gathered that the suspected arsonists, armed with four litres of petrol, stormed the state PDP secretariat at about 4.30 am.
The private guards attached to the secretariat said they were inside the building when they noticed some movements at its main entrance.
One of the guards, who did not want his name mentioned, said they watched from inside how one of the arsonists poured the fuel on the giant door, struck a match and set the place on fire.
The guard said one of them, who had come out to question the action of the arsonists, was threatened and ordered to leave the vicinity or get killed.
“We had to shout for help and luckily, neighbours woke up and rushed to the secretariat and put out the fire,” he said.
The incident came on the heels of a rally in Port Harcourt by 14 aspirants calling for the zoning of the governorship position in the state.
The Rivers State PDP had been calling for the jettisoning of zoning in the state.
However, the state Chairman of the party, Mr. Felix Obuah, blamed the fire on the desperation by some politicians who did not want Friday’s ward congresses of the party to hold.
Obuah said, “In the early hours of today (Friday), some group of boys invaded the state secretariat of the PDP, locked the security guards at the premises, poured fuel on the two-storey building, which ignited fire that could not create positive impact on the ground floor of the secretariat.
“The party expresses serious concern on the timing of the event, which occurred less than 24 hours after a group of dissidents who sparsely congregated at the Liberation Stadium, Elekahia, to threaten violence on the PDP and its leaders, as some of them called for the postponement of the ward congresses of the party billed for Saturday.
“The party also notes that few minutes after the unfortunate incident, in a manner that suggested that they are privy to the arrangement, the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, through one Chris Finebone, issued a press statement and laid claim to the property as belonging to the Rivers State Government.”
The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Dan Bature, ordered a 24-hour surveillance at the state PDP secretariat to prevent any breakdown of law and order.
Bature, who inspected the scene of the incident, promised that the police would fish out those behind it.