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Nigerian politician kidnapped ahead of president’s visit

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A regional head of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nigeria was kidnapped on the eve of an election campaign visit by President Muhammadu Buhari, police told AFP on Tuesday.

Donatus Mwamkpa, APC chairman in the southwestern Abia State, was seized by gunmen on Monday, “a few hours” before Buhari’s arrival for a rally, police spokesman Geoffrey Ogbona said.

“I do not have details of what actually transpired,” the spokesman said, “but we are on the matter towards ensuring that he is rescued unhurt and the perpetrators arrested.”

Buhari, a former military ruler, is seeking to win another term in February’s election where he faces main rival Atiku Abubakar, a wealthy businessman and former vice-president representing the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Abia State is an opposition stronghold, but Ogbona brushed aside a question about whether that might have been a factor.

“Do not drag me into questions if it is a politically motivated incident,” he said.

APC publicity chief Benedict Godson confirmed the kidnapping, and said: “We are aware there was a plot to disrupt today’s visit by the president, but we never expected this.”

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“Up till now, we’ve not heard from him,” Godson added in reference to Mwamkpa.

“We plead with his abductors to release him,” Godson said, after suggesting they might be opposition members “in collaboration with some persons in our own party.”

The presidential vote scheduled for February 16 is tipped to be close, and is due to be followed by legislative, regional and local elections that often raise tensions in Nigeria, the most populated African nation.

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