As campaigns for the 2023 Kogi governorship election reaches the homestretch with attendant violence, a civil society organisation, Centre for Leadership Legacy Int’l (Centre LLI) has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to use the November 11, Kogi governorship election to further prove his inclination to democratic principles, by prevailing on the heads of security agencies to be on top of their games and do so impartially.
A statement signed by the Lead Director of the Centre, Comrade Omonu YG Nelson, explained that in view of the ceaseless violence that has characterised the build-up to the election, there’re ominous signs that the election is going to be marred by violence and malpractices if security agencies don’t up their games in an unbiased manner.
The statement further challenged the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun, Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi, and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt.- Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja to check the activities of their Officers with a view to weeding out, transfer, or punish bad eggs who may be cooperating with political thugs, saying election cannot be free, fair, and credible in an atmosphere of violence.
“There’s cause for worry that the November 11 Kogi governorship election maybe marred by violence if the brewing unsavoury political development is not nipped in the bud. Suffice to mention a few of political developments in Kogi that if not check can dent the forthcoming election.
“On 3rd June, the Social Democratic Party, SDP candidate, Alhaji Muritala Yakubu Ajaka, was on a scheduled campaign and visit to notable traditional rulers in the State. As his convoy was approaching Lokoja, the state capital, the governor of the State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, ordered the blockade of Ajaka’s convoy. Afterwards, one of the occupants of the vehicle used for the blokade alighted and shot sporadically at Ajaka’s car, leaving the vehicle ridden with bullets, and it would have been very fatal if it was not a bullet proof car.
“Severally, the SDP campaign offices in Lokoja, Anyigba, Dekina, Ankpa etc have been attacked and burnt,” the statement said.
On August 23, political thugs stormed Ejule Town in Kogi East where Kabir Bala alias Okwo was killed as the hoodlums attacked his residence and business interests. In the process, a middle-aged married woman was also killed.
Comrade Omonu also pointed out that few days ago, specifically, on Sunday, 13 August, a Henchman, who was hired to plant ammunition on the campaign train of the SDP candidate, so as to incriminate him, was arrested by the eagle-eyed and gallant officers on duty at the Goshen Hotel, Ganaja Area of Lokoja, where the campaign train were awaiting their principal to arrive.
“The incidence that happened on Sunday; a young man concealed amunition among crate of soft drinks in order to incriminate the SDP candidate. The culprit was whisked away by the police. The police must investigate such issues thoroughly to ensure those behind the dastardly plot are brought to justice because its clear that the arrested young man is just an accomplice, the real masterminds are yet to be unmasked and apprehended.
“Again, on Monday, August 14, sporadic shooting started at Anyigba that has become so notorious for thuggery. In fact, residents of Anyigba live in constant fear due to unrestrained activities of sponsored political thugs.
“These circle of violence can’t continue and we expect to have a free, fair, and credible election come November 11. The security agencies must rise to the ocassion,” the statement added.
Comrade Omonu reminded President Tinubu that, after a hotly disputed presidential election, the Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa governorship election would be a litmus test for his readiness to consolidate democracy in the country.
He also used the opportunity to appeal to all political parties and their candidates in the forthcoming election to leave politics at the level of a fair debate, saying that election is not war.
Leading the pack is Alhaji Muritala Yakubu Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, who recently decamped from the APC to SDP, after the gross injustice, done to governorship aspirants on the party’s platform. Ajaka’s entrance has since unsettled some interests, Senator Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; Usman Ododo of All Progress Congress among others.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on June 6, 2023, approved and published the final list of 22 candidates for the governorship election scheduled to hold in Kogi, on Saturday, November 11.