The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State on Thursday raised the alarm over what it called a regime of violence and total breakdown of law and order in the state.
The party called on the National Peace Committee under the leadership of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Inspector General of Police, the National Security Adviser, the Service Chiefs, civil society organisations (CSOs) and the international community to pay special attention to the veritable flashpoint, which Kogi had become ahead of the 2019 election.
Blaming the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the dangerous trend while speaking on behalf of the state PDP, the state chairman of the party, Samuel Ohotu, said: “The Kogi State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is constrained to bring to the attention of the Nigerian public and the international community the ominously dangerous security situation in the state which is attributable to the ruthlessness and excessive intolerance of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which has degenerated into home grown insecurity and state-sponsored violence.
“This has led to a worrisome pattern of intimidation, harassment, unprovoked disruption of political meetings and gatherings which invariably involves the infliction of injuries to our party members and innocent citizens. It also involves the destruction of campaign materials of opposition party candidates like posters, banners and bill boards all over the state. These incidents of violence and thuggery have become more brazen, dangerous and rampant in all the three senatorial districts of the state in the last few weeks.
“The foregoing is a recipe for chaos and a flagrant attempt to circumscribe our right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association as well as our right to take part in the government of our country as guaranteed by Articles 20 and 21 of the United Nations Fundamental Human Rights, Articles 10 and 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as Section 14 (1) (c) and Section 40 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”
The state PDP chairman listed the violence the APC government had allegedly committed against the PDP in the state.
“What started like rumours of a grand design to exclude all other political parties from the political space by making it impossible even to campaign is now assuming a frightening reality as can be seen from the following well documented acts of violence and thuggery:
“On March 6, 2018 and July 31, 2018 Senator Ahmed Ogembe’s empowerment programmes were violently disrupted by armed APC thugs who beat up the-would-be-beneficiaries, leaving many of them with serious injuries.
“On December 2, 2018, the PDP leaders and members who attended the Central Senatorial District stakeholders’ meeting were attacked by armed thugs of the APC as they were leaving Dabras Hotel, Okene, the venue of the meeting.
“The thugs were armed with sophisticated guns and other dangerous weapons. A candidate to the House of Representatives, Mr. M. I. Onimisi and a candidate to the House of Assembly were the most seriously affected as the car they were both driving in was riddled with bullets.
“This was the subject of a petition to the Commissioner of Police by Adavi Local Government Area chapter of PDP, alleging assassination attempts on the two candidates. The petition contained the names of five suspects with a request for their arrest and prosecution.
“On July 19, 2018, armed APC thugs disrupted the commissioning of projects by Senator Dino Melaye and also vandalised some of the projects slated for commissioning including classrooms in Lokoja and a Skills Acquisition Centre at Aiyetoro-Gbede in Ijumu Local Government Area of the state.
“On November 4, 2018, PDP meetings organised in the three districts of Dekina Local Government Area were disrupted simultaneously by suspected APC thugs armed with AK47 and other dangerous weapons. In the process, vehicles and houses were vandalised and/or completely destroyed while many people sustained serious injuries.
“On November 9, 2018, the Kogi East Zonal Office at Ayingba was vandalised while four PDP members were attacked in their respective houses and their properties destroyed.
“On December 6, 2018, PDP’s rally which commenced from Abocho ward in Dekina Local Government (Area) was disrupted by APC thugs leading to the destruction of canopies, chairs, public address system and motorcycles. Seven out of those who sustained serious injuries from gunshots are still recovering at the Good Shepherd Hospital, Ayingba.
“On December 29, 2018, the PDP campaign team was attacked at Iyale in Dekina LGA. In the process, the vehicle of the ward secretary, Moses Umoru, was burnt.
“On the same day, PDP campaign team was harassed and attacked at Ologba in Dekina LGA where sound system, laptop and other items were destroyed. Three days later a campaign rally organised at Abocho in Dekina LGA, was violently disrupted and the perpetrators proceeded to the residence of the ward chairman, Isiaka Adama, where four vehicles were destroyed.
“On December 29, 2018, on the way to a rally at Ogane-Enugu in Dekina LGA, the convoy of Hon. Ben Ikani, a member of the House of Representatives and also currently a candidate was attacked with guns and dangerous weapons.”
He appealed to security operatives to conduct a thorough investigation into the crisis in the state and ensure that they maintain neutrality in the forthcoming election in the state.