The uncomfortable silence from the nation’s seat of power over the gruesome murder of a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Woman leader in Kogi State has been broken by President Muhammadu Buhari, who says he expects scrupulous investigation into the heinous murder of Madam Salome Achejuh Abuh, Woman Leader of the PDP in Wada/Aro campaign council, in the just concluded gubernatorial election in Kogi State.
There has been public outcry over how Madam Abuh was last week Monday locked in her house, which was set ablaze by political thugs, believed to be loyal to the All Progressives Congress (APC). The thugs prevented her from escaping the burning house by shooting at her and scaring sympathisers away with gunshots until her residence was razed.
Her husband later narrated his own version of the story, though he was away in Abuja when the thugs, on vengeance killing, came calling.
The President, in a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, decries whatever could spur anyone to take the life of another human being, particularly a woman, who was burnt to death in her home in the most gruesome manner.
President Buhari charges all security agencies involved in the investigation to do a thorough and expeditious job on the matter, so that justice could be served without fear or favor.
“We must learn to behave decently, whether during elections or at other times. No life should be taken wantonly under any guise, and the fact that this reprehensible act occurred two days after voting shows primitive behavior, which should not be accepted in a decent society,” the President said.
He sympathizes with the family of the deceased, vowing that the law would catch up with the malefactors, and justice would be done.
Any descent to barbarism, as was visited on the PDP Woman Leader, President Buhari says, has gone out of the realm of politics, and is pure criminality and bestiality.
“Such evildoers must be brought to justice, irrespective of whatever allegiances they hold,” the President affirms.
Just last Thursday, according to the Daily Trust newspaper, a coalition of women group in Abuja, protested the gruesome murder of the People Democratic Party’s (PDP) Women Leader of Ofu Local Government of Kogi State, Mrs. Salome Acheju Abuh, who was reportedly shot and burnt to death by unknown assailants in her home on Monday in Ochadamu.
The organisations are Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), Women in Politics Forum (WIPF), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Women Radio FM and Equity Advocates (EA).
While the organisations and others at the protest amidst tears condemned the killing of Mrs. Abuh, they also lament the silence of the State Governor and President Muhammadu Buhari.
The protesters equally berated the Inspector General of Police IGP Mohammed Adamu, for his ‘fake police’ comment and his silence of the act.
The Chief Executive Officer NWTF, Ms. Mufuliat Fijabi; Executive Director EA, Ms. Ene Ede; Senior Programme Officer CDD, Mr. Austin Aigbe; President WIPF Ebere Ifendu; and the Managing Director Women Radio, Mrs. Toun Okewale-Sonaiya, said the killing is a setback for the inclusion of women into governance and democratic development of the country.
“Today, we are here to bring a more focused attention to the incidents of Gender based violence in the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections. We are concerned about the high level of violence before, during and after the elections. An attack on one woman is an attack on all Nigerian women.
“Prior to the 2019 General Elections, the NWTF, WiPF, Women Radio 91.7 FM (WFM) and other women focused organizations led targeted sensitization programs and issued public statements and actions to provide better public understanding, aimed to address electoral violence which creates barrier to women’s participation.
“As a result of intensive advocacy and intervention by CSOs, media, EMBs, development partners, there has been an increase in the number of women who have been convinced and are actively engaged in the electoral process. However, inspite of the increase in women’s participation in the electoral process, many women around the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory in Nigeria continue to experience significant violence around election time. Both female voters and politicians have experienced increased harassment, arson, violence and psychological abuse without any national action to bring it to a halt,” they said.
According to them all election observer groups on ground during the two elections including, the Civil Society Situation Room convened by PLAC, CDD, YIAGA Africa, and Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) among others have all also condemned this level of violence.
They said that this has also been closely x-rayed by the media. They said these kinds of incidents are not only a threat to the stability of the electoral process but also affect women’s participation in the discourse of development as everyone has the right to life, liberty and choice, and as equal citizens of the nation, women’s choices should not be a premise for the violations of their rights.
“We hereby join the rising demand for justice by calling on the IGP to conduct an immediate investigation into all these cases of gender-based violence and in particular the attack on particular women, the most recent being the burning to death of Ms. Acheju Salome Abuh in Kogi State. This is a threat to inclusive democracy in Nigeria. We call on all relevant authorities to take action to bring all perpetrators to book immediately. An injury to one woman is an injury to all women,” they said.
In his account of how his wife died, Elder Simeon Abuh in a statement that has gone viral on social media wrote: “My attention has been drawn to various stories both offline and online regarding the sorrowful death of my beloved wife, Hon. Mrs Salome Acheju Abuh, on Monday the 18th of November 2019 which happened at Ochadamu Ofu Local Government area of Kogi State Nigeria. I am constrained to set the records straight, despite the heaviness and pain I feel at this moment.
“My wife, a devout Christian, a lover of peace who hates anything violent was a grassroot politician/community leader. She was a women leader for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the early years of her political career. She had her first elective position as an Honorable councilor in Ofu Local Government Council of Kogi State Nigeria between 2003-2007, she contested for Idah Federal Constituency for house of representative in (2007) and was the only woman among the contestants, she was also a Special Assistant on Grassroot Matters to His Excellency Capt. Idris Wada, (the then Executive Governor). She also contested in the last general elections for the State House of Assembly In 2018, all under the PDP platform. Until this unfortunate incidence, she was an active member of the party, a campaign team member for Engr. Dr. Musa Wada and the PDP Woman leader.
“On Saturday 16th of November 2019, at the Ochadamu primary school polling unit, one Ocholi Edicha in the company of other boys told me that he was going to deal with my younger brother, Gowon Abuh, who is a strong supporter of the PDP, that He (Ocholi Edicha) and others were in the payroll of GYB 4+4. He (OCHOLI EDICHA) further said that this election is for the APC and there is nothing that anyone can do about it. I politely told him that there was no need for this that we are all brothers, we all drank the same flowing river, went to the same playing ground in the community and we shall still remain in the same community, politics notwithstanding.
“After casting my vote, I headed home, leaving my wife behind to watch the electoral process. After some time My brother Gowon ran back home to inform me that “ Ocholi Edicha was beating my wife where she was sitting under a shade observing the process and when He (Gowon Abuh) and other people tried to intervene, He (Ocholi Edicha) attempted to stab him Gowon Abuh and he had to run back home”. As we were still talking one Elder Samuel Salami Agbali brought my wife on his motorcycle to our compound and advised that we rush her to hospital. I took her to Holy Memorial Hospital Ochadamu where she was attended to by one Dr. Agama. She was examined and was given some drugs to take and advised to rest due to the trauma of the attack.
“After the election I returned to Abuja where I reside leaving her behind to rest for few days as advised by the doctor. I was constantly on phone with her. On Monday 18th of November at about 12am my younger brother from Lokoja, Pst. Mark Abuh, called me that there was trouble at home. That Ocholi Edicha and others where in a drinking joint close to our house boasting on how they were going to deal with Gowon our younger brother who narrowly escaped from their attack on Saturday.
“According to his report Solomon, Gowon’s Son, overheard their boasting and pleaded with them on his father’s behalf to forget about the incidence. At this point one of them, Zekeri Awalu picked up a bottle and started pursing Solomon, while pursing Solomon he tripped and fell on his own knife which was stocked around his waist and unfortunately injured himself on the thigh while Solomon ran home to inform his father (Gowon Abuh) of what had ensued meanwhile, Zekeri Awalu was rushed to Holy Memorial Hospital at Ochadamu.
“After the conversation with my Brother pastor Mark Abuh I immediately put a call home to Ojonugwa Alhassan my Cousin who told me he was at the hospital where the injured person was being attended to. According to him, the hospital, after administering first aid treatment was requesting for a police report before further treatment. While the doctors were waiting for the police report the friends of the injured got agitated and moved him to another hospital where he lost his life.
“When the news of his death filtered into the town, angry APC Supporters came to the town chanting GYB 4+4, and shooting sporadically. People scampered for their lives and the APC Supporters headed to my house where my wife was resting unaware of what was happening in the community, the supporters surrounded my house shooting sporadically and further set the house ablaze and burnt my wife to death and completely burnt down the entire buildings in my compound. Afterwards the APC supporters headed to four other houses in the community who are known PDP Supporters and burnt down their houses.
“Let me conclude here, that the attack on my wife on Saturday was a premeditated one and carried out on Monday 18th November 2019 when my wife and mother of my children was resting in our family house.
“I hereby appeal for justice to prevail over this gruesome murder of my wife and loss of properties.”