FOLLOWING repeated violence against political actors and the media in Kogi State in the march to the 2023 governorship election, Ukomu Igala Organization, a socio-political group in Kogi East Senatorial District, has written a petition to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to call Governor Yahaya Bello to order and halt alleged acts of state-sponsored violence against the people.
In a letter to the president, dated June 6, 2023, and signed by the National Leader of Ukomu, David Abutu, and its National Secretary, Dr Sabestine Abu, the group alleged that the systematic and violent attacks on opposition politicians, who are restricted from campaigning freely in Kogi State, is akin to political terrorism.
Ukomu wrote: “Your Excellency, the political temperature in Kogi State since Governor Yahaya Bello took office in February 2016 has been heightened by violence, not against criminals, but in order to bolster his ego. This has left the state with a tale of woes and sorrow, marked by state antagonism, destruction of properties, maiming and outright assassination of citizens who hold opposing views to his style of governance.”
Making recourse to the cold-blooded burning alive of Mrs Salome Abu, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) woman leader, during the 2019 governorship election, Ukomu said, “As we move towards another round of the governorship election in November 2023 and the end of Yahaya Bello’s tenure, we are again witnessing a renewed violence against our people and intimidation of other political opponents. A few days ago, properties running into hundreds of millions of naira at Ejule in Kogi State, belonging to Bala Kabiru (Okwo), a former associate of the Governor, now in opposition, were razed down by persons suspected to be agents of Yahaya Bello.
“Similarly, Yahaya Bello, in company of his security convoy only few days ago, precisely on Friday June 2, 2023, in the full glare of hundreds of commuters along Lokoja–Abuja highway, made assassination attempts on Alhaji Murtala Ajaka, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate in Kogi State, an Igala son and immediate past Assistant National Publicity Secretary of the APC.
“Alhaji Ajaka was travelling with his entourage in further consultations with traditional rulers and stakeholders in the State. Governor Yahaya Bello’s convoy, driving from Abuja to Lokoja, rammed violently into the moving motorcade of Alhaji Ajaka and rained bullets directly at Ajaka. The bullets would have ended his life, save for God’s protection and the bullet proof vehicle in which he travelled. Thereafter, Governor Bello’s security details and thugs went ahead to set ablaze one of the vehicles in Ajaka’s entourage.”
The group added that, “In an interview Governor Bello granted Channels TV, he arrogantly described himself as a “Lion” and said Alhaji Ajaka was an “Antelope” who crossed his (Bello’s) path. He capped his metaphor with further threats to deal with Ajaka. The Governor’s choice of words in the interview clearly showed his violent nature; the plague the people of Kogi State have had to suffer these past years.”
The group sent copies of the letter to the National Security Adviser to the President, the Director-General of the Department of Security Services (DSS), and the Inspector-General of Police.
In a separate letter to the DSS, dated June 8, 2023, the group raised alarm over the destruction of the only radio station in Kogi East, Radio Kogi, Ochaja, for allegedly broadcasting the story of the attack on the SDP governorship candidate Ajaka.
Ukomu said, “While the radio station was on air, hoodlums in their numbers invaded the station, wielding guns and other dangerous weapons. They beat up the staff and security guards on duty before destroying and looting away various broadcast equipment, including the transmitter and 100 KVA power generator, donated by Alhaji Murtala Ajaka to the station.
“For over one hour while the hoodlums attacked the station, distress calls put by some of the community leaders to the Divisional Police Station in Egume in Dekina Local Government Area, whose jurisdiction covers Ochaja, but they did not respond until the hoodlums had their fill and left. It is surprising that up and until this moment as we write, none of the criminals has been arrested and none of the items looted has been recovered.”
Ukomu called on the DSS to “kindly investigate this attack on the radio station, apprehend the perpetrators and do all you can through credible intelligence to nip in the bud such kinds of possible attacks on public/private properties and opposition politicians in the state, in the build up to the November governorship election.”