Kogi Governorship: Security deteriorates as parties round off campaigns

Police officers used to illustrate the story (Photo Credit: Cfr.org)
Police officers used to illustrate the story (Photo Credit: Cfr.org)

Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kabba, Kogi West Senatorial District, were on Wednesday attacked by armed political thugs, worsening the security situation two days to the governorship election in Kogi State.

Prominent among those attacked by the hoodlums was Joseph Dada, whose house was riddled with bullets and cars destroyed.

Others who were reportedly attacked include Johnson Abejinrin and one Obagbayi, who are said to be top members of the PDP in Kabba.

Pictures emanating from the scene show buildings and vehicles riddled with bullets and shattered glasses.

Reports across the state show widespread intimidation and attacks of campaign trains of opposition parties.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that some leaders of the opposition political parties have relocated their families outside the state.

The reality of the security threat to the election was further highlighted during Tuesday’s attack of the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Natasha Akpoti, who in the full glare of police officers and other security agencies, was attacked and molested by thugs believed to be loyal to the incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello.

This was even worrisome that the attack took place at the venue of the INEC’s stakeholders’ meeting in Lokoja which had in attendance the Inspector of General of Police and other heads of Nigeria’s security outfit.

Earlier, the SDP secretariat was razed and valuable documents and properties were destroyed.

Although the attacks were not denied, the police are yet to take any person into custody for the acts.

The governorship candidate of the Grassroots Development Party of Nigeria (GDPN), Dele Williams, told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview that his campaign train had been attacked several times as he toured the state to seek the support of voters to become the governor of the state.

According to him, some of leaders of his party have either moved out of the state due to threats to their lives and their families, or had moved their families away.

“Besides the harassment during campaigns, I have received threats to my life,” he said.

Mr Williams also said even though a formal complaint was sent to the Inspector General of Police and other security agencies, no arrest has been made and the situation had grown worse.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has denied that its members and supporters were involved in the attacks.

Jubril Abu, the Publicity Secretary of the APC in Kogi State, told PREMIUM TIMES that the violence could not be traced to APC supporters because they are law abiding citizens.

Although he did not deny that there were attacks, he noted that the people should look elsewhere for the culprits.

The police in Kogi have vowed to deal with the situation and ensure peace in the state before, during and after the election, but the feeling of the average Kogi citizen is that the rigging had started and eligible voters have been successfully scared away from the ballot on Saturday.

While the PDP leaders are pointing accusing fingers at the APC in Kabba, for the attack on Mr Joseph on Wednesday, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, who also represents Kabba/Bunu State Constituency, said he was not involved in the attacks.

PREMIUM TIMES reliably gathered that within the PDP, the feeling is that Mr Kolawole masterminded the attack on the PDP leaders in the state, with a view to intimidate and disrupt their plans for Saturday.

But in a statement on Wednesday, the speaker condemned the attack on the PDP leaders in his domain, saying such acts were “callous” and condemnable.

Mr Kolawole expressed shock at the ugly incident, saying it had heightened the security situation in the community.

He charged the security agencies to swing into action to unravel those behind the act and bring them to justice.

He also charged politicians to always remember that politics should be premised on the genuine desire to serve.

He offered his cooperation to the security agencies in their bid to bring the perpetrators to book, pointing out that the issue of security of life and property is the number one priority of the government.

While Kogi State is needing an urgent security attention and safety guarantees, the police in the state are yet to show any signs of the ability to curtail the political violence that is building up as the time ticks away to the final day.

The Police Public Relations Officer in Kogi, Williams Aya, was not forthcoming with efforts made to tackle the deteriorating situation.

He however said the matters would be addressed soon by other senior police officers who have been deployed for the elections.

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