Reports coming from Kogi State have indicated that workers of a construction firm that was allegedly contracted to cutoff roads in the Okehi Local Government apparently to prevent INEC officials From accessing Kogi Central on election day have been arrested.
The people of Okehi LGA of Kogi State woke up to encounter excavations across major roads leading in and out of the Local Government ostensibly cutting off communities in the local government from accessing INEC electoral materials and voters from accessing their polling units on Saturday 25th February, 2025.
The report quoted the workers; Mr. Ismail Abdulganiyu and Sheidu Amoto who were arrested by the police while digging the pits to have confessed that they were commissioned by the Okehi Local Government Chairman, Hon. Abdulraheem Ohiare and instructed to carry out the assignment by one Mr. Toni, the project manager of the company in Kogi State.
Upon interrogation, it was gathered that Ismail confessed to being a staff of CCECC construction firm while Sheidu said he is a staff of Kogi State Ministry of Works; admitting to the collaboration between CCECC construction firm and Kogi State Ministry of Works to block access roads in Kogi Central ahead of the February 25, 2023 general elections.
The construction firm it was gathered had already dug pits in four major access roads in the Okehi local government area.
Other reports confirmed that the company was under the order of the Kogi State government to carry out the same assignment in four other local government areas of Kogi Central to prevent INEC officials from accessing the senatorial district. Okehi Local government is home to the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate for the Kogi Central senatorial district, Mrs. Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan.
In a reaction, the Kogi State Government, on Thursday, admitted saying the excavation of some roads in Kogi Central was a deliberate security measure to cut off traffic on those roads with a view to restricting the use of the roads by criminals who had been breaching the peace of the area with attendant loss of lives and property.
In a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications in the State, Kingsley Fanwo, the State Government drew the attention of the public to an explosion that rocked the Okehi Local Government Secretariat Complex a few days ago, as well as the Okene blast of December 29, 2022, during President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the State.
According to him, the security agencies ensured no life was lost as a result of the recent explosion, but the State Government convened an emergency Security Council meeting to address the security challenges in the area with a view to devising strategies of averting possible future occurrence, especially as the State witnessed a similar explosion on December 29, 2022 at Okene.
“One of the measures arrived at was to restrict the number of routes to the flashpoints to enable security agents properly mount effective surveillance on the other access roads for the safety of the people, especially as they go to the polls on Saturday February 25, 2023. We thank the State Ministry of Works and Urban Development for their proactive efforts on the road,” he stated.
Fanwo asked if the outburst of a Senatorial Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, could be taken to mean that she was benefitting from the seeming insecurity in Kogi Central, noting specifically that as an indigene of Okehi Local Government Area, she had not considered it expedient till now to sympathise with the people over the recent explosion.
“To her, their lives do not matter. But she was quick to characteristically blackmail the State Government when measures were taken to protect her people,” he said.
He warned those sponsoring terrorism in the state to desist as security agents had enough evidence to nab masterminds.
“Some of the masterminds of the Okene blast of December 29, 2022 have been arrested, and they are giving useful statements to security agents. With the current measures in Okehi Local Government, we are confident that the cowards who attacked the symbol of unity of the Okehi people will not escape from justice,” he disclosed.
The Commissioner said, “Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan should recognise the fact that the administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello will never slaughter security on the slab of politics and will ruthlessly deal with criminal elements and their sponsors whose hearts are not immersed in the culture of peace of the Ebira Nation.
“As a government, our responsibility is to protect the Kogi people, and sometimes, we have to take drastic and even temporarily discomforting steps to achieve that. INEC and security agents have not complained about accessing every part of the Okehi Local Government Area in particular and Kogi Central in general. Why is Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan crying on behalf of INEC when, as an institution, INEC has communication structures and platforms?”
The state government called on Kogites to disregard allegations of trying to use local militias to harass voters, saying, “The protagonists of such fiction are elements who want to create panic in the state because of desperation to provoke chaos to cover up for their political feebleness.
“We assure the people of Kogi Central and Kogi State in general to come out enmasse to cast their votes as adequate security arrangements are in place to protect them before, during, and after the polls. Those who need to worry are criminals who will never be spared in the state.”
▪︎ Report by National Update