Fearing further backlash and spiralling violence in Kogi State, sponsored allegedly by state actors, a group of elders from the Kogi East senatorial district, consisting mainly of Igala Igala speakers, but having Bassa Nge and Bassa Komu speakers, have raised a public outcry against security chiefs they believe are working hand in gloves with prominent state government officials to escalate an atmosphere of fear.
Speaking under the aegid of the Kogi East Elders Council, one of such fora across ethnic lines, raised an alarm over what it claims to be an atmosphere of fear, intimidation and insecurity being created by the ruling Party the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of preparation for the November 11, 2023 gubernatorial election in the State.
Its position at a press conference in Abuja on what it claims is the state sponsored insecurity in Kogi East, comes as one of the main opposition parties, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) issued its own incendiary statement on goings-on in the state.
Everday.ng learnt that those pointing accusing fingers in the direction of a prominent executive of the state today, joined him to allegedly stifle opposition, with murderous violence, which led to his re-emergence four years ago. One of such violence was the killing of a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Women leader, Mrs. Salome Abuh, in Ofu Local Government Area. Many other politically-motivated killings and violence went unreported.
Sources suggest the executive is now going after his former supporters, following their refusal to join him in foisting a relation of his on the state.
“The situation has become so ethnicised that the state is caught between a devil and beyond-the-deep-brown-river – read between the line. Bloodshed, sorcery, and intimidation is the order of the day,” one source, who fears retaliation if named, said.
He adds that in Kogi East and Central districts, names have been pencilled down and have been circulated for vengeance, if preferred candidates lose.
“There is such talk about Igala, Ebira, and Okun agenda by the same persons who worked against their own tribal agenda when it suited them. Now everyone is hibernating under these agenda, creating paranoia, but it is sad that our oga is leading this do-or-die battle and everywhere is so charged you can cut it with a knife. But it is all about the politics of the stomach,” he added.
Three prominent candidates – Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Murtala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and Ahmed Usman Ododo of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are front runners in the coming November election. There have been talks of an unnamed dark horse waiting to capitalise on the tension and confusion, but Everyday.ng has been unable to get his name.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference in Abuja, Amb. Ali Ocheni said, “As the count-down to the November 11, 2023 gubernatorial election in Kogi State draws near and based on the recent happenings in our state, we find it necessary to draw the attention of Nigerians and the International community to the terrorism being sponsored and unleashed on Kogi State in general and Kogi East senatorial district in particular by agents of the Kogi State political leadership.
“We demand the removal of the current Commissioner of Police who supervised the recent extra judicial killings in Kogi East senatorial district.
“The Director, State Security Service, Kogi State should also be replaced. His ineffectiveness has led to the escalation of violence in the State.
“Another person we demand be removed and investigated immediately is Navy Commander Akalezi. We had requested severally that he be transferred out of Kogi State. Instead, he was sent to the Republic of South Africa for a senior division training and is now back in Kogi to continue doing the biddings of the government.”
He called on the Federal authorities to pay attention to the goings on in Kogi State because any breakdown of law and order in Kogi State will not augur well for Nigeria.
“For the purpose of reminder, Kogi State shares boundaries with ten States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. It has the highest number of boundaries with other federating units in Nigeria.
“Kogi State is the southern gateway to the Federal Capital Territory. No one wants to imagine the chaos a breakdown of law and order in this state will have on the nation as a whole.
“We call on the federal government to ensure a level playing field for all contestants in the forthcoming election through the appropriate mechanisms.
“As elders of the people, we have spoken.”
According to Ambassador Ocheni the State has been polarized in unimaginable terms through the use of the twin weapons of poverty and ignorance against the people.
“The polarisation of the citizens has reached the extent that Ebira traders in Kogi Central are now afraid of coming to the regional markets in Ejule, Abocho and Anyigba in Kogi East.
“As Elders in Kogi East, we wish to use this opportunity to inform our brothers and sisters in Kogi Central that Kogi East is safe to all Kogites and Nigerians.
“We therefore call on them to resume their trading activities in Kogi East as we have never seen them as enemies or adversaries.
“Citizens of Kogi State must be allowed to choose whoever they want to lead them, regardless of party affiliation.”
The SDP in its own statement accused Governor Yahaya Bello of plotting with some security chiefs to arrest or abduct
According to Mr. Faruk Adejoh-Audu, the Director of Communications for the Alhaji Muritala Yakubu Ajaka Campaign Organisation, on Tuesday, there is a plot to clamp the candidate into detention and possibly, to assassinate him.
The plan, he added, began on Tuesday with an arraignment of Ajaka before a Lokoja Court to legally seal the plot to incarcerate him indefinitely.
Some gun-wielding men, he said further, appeared at an address on Khartoum Street in Wuse, Abuja at about 12:30pm on Tuesday claiming they were detailed by the Commissioner of Police in the state, Hakeem Adeshina Yusuf to arrest Ajaka.
The men, he said, had claimed Ajaka was to be arrested for attempted assassination, gun possession, and terrorism as a result of the same attack carried out by Mr Bello and his gunmen.
“Already, Mr Bello has put some of his friendly media editors and social media influencers on cue to disparage the SDP Candidate through stories and commentaries that will portray the candidate as a violent man.
“Using the state institutions of compliance to suppress opponents in an election with the force of arms is akin to coup d’etat and we hereby task the Federal Government of Nigeria under president Tinubu to forestall such an unconstitutional desperation even from governor produced by his party…
“These elaborate plot is an obvious manifestation to stop the escalating popularity of the SDP Candidate in the November 11 Governorship Elections.
“Mr Bello is a Governor whose administration has gained notoriety for violence, framing up opponents and compromising the institutions of the polity to gain advantage in elections.
“Once again, we are calling on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to call this outlaw of a governor to order since we cannot press charges against him due to his executive immunity.
But Kogi State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo, disputed the position of the SDP’s candidate.
“Kogites and Nigerians know Murtala Yakubu Ajaka and they know that his intention is to create ethnic division and blow his own ego. We know the contenders and the pretenders and he is not a political threat as far as Kogi State is concerned.
“The Governor of Kogi State, His Excellency Alh. Yahaya Bello, is the Governor of all the people of Kogi State and he owes them a duty of care and security. He swore to protect them and protect them he shall.
“The State Government has no clandestine plan to frame up anyone, not to talk about political Lilliputians with questionable character.
“As a Government, we will not condone reckless statements as we urge the security agencies to arrest the current trend by acting decisively against inflammatory statements.
“A lack of action has emboldened some political opportunists to think they can spread lies, incite the people, play politics of ethnic profiling and still get away with them,”, Fanwo said.