Former President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has sued for peace ahead of Saturday’s scheduled gubernatorial elections in both Kogi and his home state, Bayelsa.
His admonition comes as there were reports of an attempted attack on the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital. Armed masked men in uniform were said to have stormed the hotel he was lodged in.
A source, however, said the storming by masked policemen was a terrible error by the Police, which is now claiming it got reports that miscreants, suspected to be political thugs, were meeting in the hotel.
It was not clear if an apology had been tendered to the Governor at press time.
Dr Jonathan, on Friday in Yenagoa at his Foundation office when a team of election observers from SING Foundation visited him, condemned the patronage of thugs and the use of violence by politicians to secure victory during elections.
Makinde’s spokesman, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, circulated a chilling account of what happened in Lokoja.
It reads: “Information reaching us from Lokoja, the Kogi state capital confirmed that some armed and masked security men who appeared in police uniforms have attacked the Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde in Lokoja, Kogi state capital.
“Makinde is the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party’s Kogi State Campaign Council. He is in Kogi in his capacity as the Chairman of that Council.
“Eyewitnesses confirmed that the hooded security operatives arrived the Suitorial Hotels, Lokoja, located along Stadium Road, Lokoja, where the Governor and some members of the PDP Campaign Council are lodged at about 12.50 pm, on Friday, shooting sporadically and attempting to break into the hotel rooms.
“It was gathered the some of the hooded security operatives scaled the fence of the Hotel and attempted to enter the rooms.
“A melee was set off as the security operatives attached to the Governor of Oyo state were said to have resisted the invaders.
“Within a short while, some residents nearby also gathered to resist the invading gunmen.”
The President noted that for elections to be peaceful and credible in Nigeria, every eligible citizen must be allowed to freely vote for the candidate of his choice without intimidation and harassment.
Jonathan who condemned the spate of violence arising from the pre-election activities in Kogi and Bayelsa States also stressed that democracy is not only about conducting elections and declaring winners, but about the credibility of the entire process.
He noted further noted that African nations are at different levels of democratic practices, adding that while some are already on the right track, others need to do more to deepen democracy .
He said: “I commend some that are doing well. But I describe what is being practised in some countries as pseudo- democracy. This is because democracy is not just about having elections and announcing results, it is way beyond that.
If you don’t follow due process, if you don’t abide by the tenets and guidelines of free, fair and transparent electoral processes, then you can’t claim to be practicing democracy.”
The election observers were led by Mr. Idris Abiodun Usman, executive director of Sing Foundation and Mr. Femi Lawson, senior programme officer, Women Arise for Change Initiative.