Ahead of swearing ceremony of Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello scheduled for Monday, 27th January 2020, a group under the aegis of Kogi United for Democracy (KUD) on Saturday sent a message to the State Governor, reminding him that Kogi citizens are still deeply mourning the killing of voters at the November 16, gubernatorial election which brought him to power.
They have also asked the federal government to institute a high powered judicial panel to investigate what it alleged as politically motivated violence which took place before, during and after November 16, 2019, in Kogi State.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, Chairman of the group, Dr. Yakubu Ugwolawo, said the election which Yahaya Bello purportedly won did not meet the minimum standards.
The group which comprises of socio-cultural and political associations drawn from the state described the “swearing ceremony of Alhaji Yahaya Bello and Chief Edward Onoja as governor and Deputy Governor respectively as a political jamboree.”
They said the planned swearing-in ceremony did not reflect the mood of the citizens and urged dignitaries who were invited to the occasion to watch if the people were in a good mood.
The group’s statement read; ‘” The Kogi United for Democracy is a conglomeration of democrats of like minds drawn from the three Senatorial Districts in Kogi State.
”It is driven by passion and vision for an egalitarian Kogi State, which is in tandem with the dreams of the founding fathers and well-meaning citizens of the state.
“The body comprises of socio-cultural, political and interest groups that are sensitive to the yearnings and aspirations of our people; and monitor political developments in the state.
“Obviously, this is in the pursuit of common destiny as envisioned by the founding fathers of Kogi State, who wanted a person with a common destiny, having been united previously under the provincial system of administration.
“In Kabba Province, the people of Kogi State today were structured in one federating unit. This dovetailed into the creation of Kwara State on 27th May 1967, where we all lived as brothers despite our tribal and cultural differences.
“As a group that is interested in the wellbeing of Kogi State citizens, it is regrettable that the November 16, 2019 governorship election which the incumbent governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello purportedly won has gone into the book of chronicle as the worst political events in the history of Nigeria”, they insisted.
They said Kogi State has passed through several elections since its creation in 1991 without many casualties, adding that the government deliberately ignored early warnings that the election would not be free and fair.
The group emphatically pointed out that the malaise was deliberately allowed because of the governor’s interest, a situation they averred made the Independent National Electoral Commission and security agents to compromise.
“Indeed, we want to reiterate here that the November 16, 2019 governorship election in our dear state has left an indelible dark spot in our political journey because our collectivity in our desire for a united Kogi State was greatly undermined by the incumbent governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies.
“Prior to the election, the incumbent governor did show his endorsement of brigandage and gangsterism which made well-meaning citizens in the state and political parties to raise alarm and wrote several complaints to the authorities concerned.
“These complaints fell on deaf ears and the security agencies became complacent to the various issues raised.
“Consequently, many lives were lost during and after the election as thugs loyal to Alhaji Yahaya Bello openly killed and maimed people without hindrances from the security agencies.
“The election was marred with irregularities of the highest order. It was characterized by ballot box snatching, stuffing, and destruction of electoral materials coupled with widespread violence and vote-buying at exorbitant rates.
“On a particular note, was the use of Police helicopter which teargassed from the air to scare voters away, thereby, paving the way for the brigands to operate.
“The level of irregularity was unprecedented in the annals of our political history in Kogi state. The results scored by parties were manipulated in favor of the incumbent governor.
“There was post-election violence on a large scale leading to the killing of a woman leader of PDP in Ofu Local Government Area, Mrs. Salome Achejuh Abuh.
“That incident has left the entire citizens of Kogi State to live in fear and has actually necessitated our coming together to give this briefing.
“The brutal killing of those illustrious sons and daughters in broad daylight by evil men working for their political godfathers has shown a damning verdict that the election exercise was short of the minimum standard to be acceptable by the citizens.
“We, therefore, wish to remind Nigerians particularly, dignitaries including state governors, members of the Federal Executive Council, members of the National and State Assemblies, Businessmen/women, community leaders, members of the Diplomatic Corps, etc, who are invited to celebrate the swearing ceremony of Alhaji Yahaya Bello and Chief Edward David Onoja as Governor and Deputy Governor respectively on 27th January 2020 in a political jamboree, should note that the indigenes of Kogi State are in deep mourning mood over the demise of their loved ones in their attempts to exercise their civic rights during the election.
“The deceased lives were terminated to satisfy the ambitions of some individuals in their desperation to perpetuate themselves in that position which they could not manage in the first place.
“We urge the august visitors to take pains to look round Lokoja and its environs to see whether anything has happened to the pothole infested roads and physical facilities needed in a state capital such as Lokoja, let alone the dilapidated situations in other towns and villages across the state to warrant their political jamboree at this time in Kogi State.
“In conclusion, we wish to state categorically that the federal government should institute a high powered judicial panel to investigate politically motivated violence which took place before, during and after November 16, 2019, in Kogi State, judging from the outright condemnation of the election by international communities, civil society organizations and other highly placed institutions and individuals across the world.
They called for the cancellation of the election, noting that it didn’t reflect the wishes of the people of Kogi state.