• Police deny complicity as hoodlums raze SDP secretariat
• APC, PDP trade accusations over plot to use armed thugs
Barely five days to the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa, the political temperature in the states moved a notch higher yesterday as hoodlums unleashed violence and political parties accused each other of plots to deploy armed thugs.
In Kogi, suspected political thugs burnt down the secretariat of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Lokoja, the state capital.The office was earlier attacked on Sunday. Windows and doors were shattered. Banners, posters and other campaign materials at the office were also destroyed and reportedly replaced with the posters of one of the governorship aspirants.
The SDP candidate, Natasha Akpoti, who visited the office yesterday, alleged there had been a plan by Governor Yahaya Bello to attack her convoy. She said the burning down of the secretariat confirmed her claim. She also accused the police of taking sides with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
“I am calling on President Buhari, the National Chairman of APC Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and the governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Nasir El Rufai to call Governor Yahaya Bello to order. Why are they supporting illegality in Kogi State? Kogi State belongs to every Kogi citizen. I see no reason why Bello should think he could use violence to achieve his aims. We will not allow that. The people of Kogi have spoken,” she said.
But Kingsley Fanwo, Director General, Media and Publicity to Bello, said Akpoti should deal with her issues and leave the governor out of her travails. “She is always out for unmerited sympathy. The governor is against violence and has already told security agents to ensure that the governorship election is peaceful. He can never be behind that,” he said.
Also, Kogi State Commissioner of Police Hakeem Busari said it was absurd for anyone to accuse the police, as security agents, of perpetrating such atrocity. “We are security agents with the responsibility to ensure peaceful election. We got wind of the incident and have ordered investigation into the immediate and remote causes,” he said.
Condemning the attack, Tajudeen Adefisoye, the only SDP member in the National Assembly, said: “This attack on our party secretariat and members of the party in Lokoja is condemnable and those in charge of the state’s security architecture must get to the root of it. It is most unfortunate that the failure of security agents to act was what emboldened the political thugs to set the whole secretariat ablaze.”
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Oluyemi Fasipe, the lawmaker noted: “We are only preparing for an election and not a war. Those trying to create an atmosphere of war in the run-up to the November 16 governorship election in Kogi State should be reined in as a matter of urgency.”
The APC meanwhile claimed it had unearthed a plot by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government in Bayelsa to deploy thugs with fake police and military uniforms to rig the election.
Deputy National Publicity Secretary Yekini Nabena said in a statement: “It should be noted that fake navy, army and police uniforms have been procured to kit political thugs recruited by the PDP-led government in Bayelsa State. The thugs will use the navy uniforms and already procured speedboats on the waterways.
“The desperation of Governor Seriake Dickson is worrisome. It is clear he will stop at nothing to rig the election in favour of his PDP candidate, even though it costs the life, property of Bayelsans and officials on election duty.“This calls for a robust response from security agencies before the elections. The police, as the lead agency for internal security, must urgently begin mop-up operations in order to prevent violence and Governor Dickson’s attempt to rig the election.”
But PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, dismissed the allegation, saying: “APC is hallucinating. The party and its candidates are on a bound-to-fail mission. These allegations are puerile as they are lacking in substance. They should await their defeat on Saturday.”Also, the party’s chapter in Bayelsa State said it uncovered plans by the leadership of the APC to use the Nigerian Army to undermine the election.
A statement by the state chairman, Moses Cleopas, alleged that a top military officer in the state has directed soldiers to give cover to APC thugs that have been contracted to perpetrate violence in PDP strongholds so that results from those areas could be cancelled. The PDP also called on Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai to prevail on the outgoing GOC of 6 Division to proceed to his new assignment.
While appealing for sanity, the Coalition for Development and Democracy in Bayelsa (CDDB), a non-governmental organisation, admonished political parties to refrain from violence or monetary inducement.The executive director, Konrad Ekiyor Welson, gave the admonition in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa, the state capital, yesterday.
The group charged security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to monitor leaders and members of the political parties before, during and after the election, to prevent malpractice.Hopeful of victory, the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said the continuous attack on its Bayelsa State governorship candidate, Chief David Lyon, by members of the PDP confirms the fact that his party fielded a stronger and better candidate for the election.
Oshiomhole stated this during a meeting with the leadership and members of the Ogbia Brotherhood shortly before kicking off the Lyon/Degi governorship campaign in Ogbia Town in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.He said: “The way the PDP has reacted to his nomination shows that we have made the right choice. I told somebody that if you appoint an inspector general of police and you begin to receive congratulatory messages from criminals, know that you have made the wrong appointment. But if you appoint an inspector general of police and you begin to receive condemnation from criminals that the man is a bad man, know that you have made the right choice. That is the case of the PDP with the candidate of the APC in Bayelsa State.”
Similarly, Governor Dickson predicted during a live media interview that the PDP would coast home to victory. Urging the people to cast their votes for Senator Douye Diri, he “advised Bayelsa people in their own interest to keep faith with PDP,” noting: “The followers of PDP across the country who made sacrifices and supported one of our own to become president will feel disappointed if we abandon PDP.”