Jemibewon, Kogi West elders back Bello, task him on securityBy Clifford Ndujihe, Omeiza Ajayi & Boluwaji Obahopo
THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has lamented the growing resort to hate speech by political actors in Kogi State, saying that elections cannot be conducted in an atmosphere of violence.
This was as Kogi state Governor, Yahaya Bello, rejected concerns by the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu and the Inspector General of Police IGP, Muhammed Adamu, that the state is synonymous with violence, saying records by security agencies show the contrary.Mahmood Yakubu
The three men spoke, yesterday, in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital at a stakeholders’ meeting organized by INEC ahead of the November 16 governorship election in the state.
kidnappers demand N60m ransom for 6 victims in Adamawa(Opens in a new browser tab)
In his keynote address, Professor Yakubu expressed concern that Kogi has an “unfortunate impression” that it is a violence-prone state.
“We already have some not-too cheering news about the state but while the commission will do its best, you have a duty as Kogites to take your state away from this state of trepidation. You are aware as we all are, that there is this unfortunate image of the state as a violence-prone state. You, together with INEC and security agencies will ensure that we change this image so that we no longer have trepidation over elections”, he said.
Mahmood, who decried the attacks on INECs offices in Dekina and Adavi local government areas of the state warned that the commission would not tolerate attacks on its personnel before, during and after the election.
He also expressed reservations on the utterances of political actors in the state and the resort to voter inducement in past elections. “In the last elections in this state, we saw images of open voter inducement in cash and kind. At some point, we saw areas close to the Polling Units turned to bazaars”, he added.
‘Kogi synonymous with violence’
Also speaking, the Inspector General of Police IGP, Muhammed Adamu said although Kogi people are very accommodating, the state has a perception problem as it has become “synonymous with violence”.
“The name Kogi is almost synonymous with violence but deep down, the people of Kogi are homely and very accommodating”, he said.
The IGP, who was represented by the Deputy Inspector General, DIG of Police in-charge of Operations, Abdulmajid Ali, however, threatened to deal with those who may want to breach the peace. He said the police has intelligence reports that some politicians were already raising their private army and police, equipping them and sewing uniforms for them.
“Some aspirants are trying to organize their own private army, sewing uniforms, some army, some police uniforms for their boys. We are not going to take this lightly with anyone who is involved. We expect as much as 25, 000 policemen for the elections and they will be deployed to all the nooks and crannies of the state for the elections,” he said.
However, the state governor, Yahaya Bello who described the state as peaceful, urged state officials to not be swayed by fake media reports, adding that Kogi cannot be in the same league with Rivers State when it comes to election violence.
He said he swore to protect and defend the constitution of the country and so the onus is on him to also ensure the safety of lives and property of residents, a job he said he has been doing faithfully.
“The issue of election violence in Kogi State has been so peddled in the media. What is being peddled is not a true reflection of the situation. You cannot compare Kogi State with Rivers State. I want to urge us all to desist from making inflammatory statements that Kogi is violent.
“Apart from being a candidate, I am the sitting governor of Kogi State. If you commit a crime in the name of election, no law will protect you and I will not protect you”, he declared.
On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, expressed its commitment to a peaceful conduct of the polls, but kicked against the deployment of soldiers, saying the police and other security agencies are capable of providing security for the elections.
Candidate of the party, Engr. Musa Wada called on the security agencies to engage in arms mop up before the elections because election is about people and not war.
“We do not want the involvement of the military. We have only two state elections on November 16 and so we have sufficient policemen for the polls. The military is for territorial defence and not for elections. We want only the police for the elections,” he said.
Jemibewon, Kogi West elders back Bello, task him on security
Indeed, elders of Kogi West on the banner of Kogi West Elders Forum, KWEF have tasked Governor Bello on security of lives and properties in the state while backing his re-election ambition.
They, however, expressed concern over ‘’poor state of infrastructural development, unfair power-sharing equation, lack of payment of workers’ salaries and the nature of political appointments all of which were not cohesive and of no group advantage to the interest of the people of Western Senatorial District.’’
Reviewing the current political, social and economic developments in Kogi West following an October 7 meeting with the governor, the KWEF, which is a body of accomplished individuals and non-partisan community leaders, said the people of the zone need more collaborative effort and a marshal plan to advance the interest of the zone with whoever is elected governor on November 16.
The elders spoke via a joint statement by General David Jemibewon, retd, HRH Abdullahi Mamman, HRH Idris Yusuf Tawari, Vice Admiral Ajayi Joseph, retd, General J.O.S Oshanupin, retd, Chief Funso Ako, Dr. Oluwayomi David Atte, Col. Olusegun Oloruntoba, retd, Dr. Tunde Arosanyin, Chief James O. Awoniyi, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, Chief Benjamin Taiwo, Chief Funmi Bodunde, Dan D. Kunle, Alhaji Isiaq Ajibola, and Deinde Abolarin.
Worried about possible violence before, during and after the election, the forum asked the governor ‘’to provide adequate security for the people and ban any of his aides or appointees from intimidating or harassing anyone during the election.’’
Consequent upon their with meeting the governor they resolved to engage in regular interactions with the government in order to achieve the aspiration of the people of Western Senatorial District and set up a project monitoring committee to monitor implementation of projects in the zone.
The statement read in part: ‘’The Forum welcomes the promise and commitment of the governor to protect the lives and properties of its citizens and combat any form of insecurity either on farmlands or in the communities caused by the activities of criminals and desperate politicians. To follow up on this commitment, the group resolved to engage with the government by setting up a security committee among its members who are retired ex-service personnel,
“Whereas the government pledged to continue to pay salaries of workers, going forward, the Forum will monitor this to ensure that the government continues to pay the salaries of its workers including the local governments’ staff.”Related