The burning alive of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP woman leader, Mrs. Salome Acheju Abuh, allegedly by blood- thirsty thugs of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the killing of others during the governorship election in Kogi State recently, is not only barbaric and condemnable but a serious indictment on the nation’s security agencies and we demand they rise up to the challenge of bringing the perpetrators to justice to serve as deterrent.
We welcome the arrest of six suspects in connection with the killing of Abuh, on November 18 and further challenged the Kogi State Police Command not to leave any stone unturned to fish out killers of at least three others during the poll even though the news of their apprehension came barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari directed the police to arrest the killers of the PDP stalwart with a view to bringing them to justice.
Described as a grassroots politician who campaigned vigorously for Musa Wada, the PDP’s governorship candidate, at the November 16 polls, Abuh, 60, the PDP women leader of Ochadamu Ward in Ofu Local Government Area of the state, according to reports, was sleeping in her home when suspected armed thugs loyal to the ruling APC and Governor Yahaya Bello allegedly set her residence alight shortly before sunset apparently in retaliation for the death of one of their own, Awolu Zekeri, a member of the APC who was said to have been stabbed with a knife by one Gowon Simeon, a member of the PDP following a misunderstanding. Zekeri reportedly died on his way to hospital. Mr. Simeon Abuh, Salome husband is an uncle to the suspect, Gowon, while three other houses were also reportedly burnt.
Rather than report the death of the party man to the police, the rampaging youth who were already celebrating Bello’s re-election allegedly doused Abuh’s bungalow located in Ochadamu Community with petrol, lit it, surrounded the house, started shooting heavily to prevent the trapped woman from escaping until the fire completely razed the building and burnt her before the thugs left in jubilation. All attempts by her frightened neighbours to alert the police were said to have been unsuccessful.
Abuh’s roasting to death, we observe is a chilling reminder of the tragic end of a former Resident Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Kano State, Mikaila Abdulahi, his wife, Zulaiha; and two daughters, Aisha and Asmau who were consumed in a fire incident described as ‘strange’ by their neighbours in Kano shortly after the REC oversaw 2015 presidential and national assembly elections in the state. Unfortunately however, the general public is yet to be told what actually happened during the ‘strange inferno’ till date.
Sadly, we note that before taking the law into their hands, no fewer than nine persons were reportedly sent to early grave in the election in what Governor Bello described as ‘free and fair’ exercise on the ground that a ‘level-playing field was provided and … in every election, there is bound to be one issue or the other and you can’t take a pocket of issues to judge the general conduct of the election’.
We totally disagree with the governor’s comment and this is very unfortunate and unbecoming of a chief security office of a state.
Though the police confirmed three people dead in the state and blamed the evil on the activities of fake policemen, such claim attributed to the Inspector-General of the Nigeria Police Force, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, in our view is not only lame duck, laughable but unacceptable and we challenge the force to thoroughly investigate the killings in order to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice forthwith.
The nation cannot afford to treat the murderers in Kogi with kid gloves and allow them go scot free as that would encourage other blood thirsty assailants to perpetuate even greater evil in future elections as they did in past including the Osun governorship poll and the 2019 general polls where many lives were lost.
We believe that the killings in Kogi certainly, would have been averted if the Police and other security agencies were proactive and taken their assignment very seriously or how else can one explain a situation whereby ‘fake’ police men could overpower 35,200 strong force deployed in that state ahead of the gubernatorial poll.
This contingent, was in addition to personnel of the Directorate of State Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence and officers and men of the Nigerian Army who were on standby duty as well as the police mobile force, special protection unit, and counter-terrorism unit to further complement the security architecture in the state.
It is on record too, that the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had similarly ordered the posting of deputy inspectors general of police (DIGs), AIGs, CPs, DCPs, and ACPs to all senatorial districts and local government areas within Bayelsa and Kogi States where elections took place on November 16, to make the exercises free and safe
It is our view from the foregoing therefore, that the security operatives were either complacent or complicit in their duties even though they had the responsibility to maintain law and order and ensure peace before, during and after the governorship contest.
It is common knowledge, unfortunately, that those who kill because of politics will continue in their evil deeds because perpetrators of violence in past elections are hardly arrested and prosecuted. These senseless killings will stop only if those who killed during the elections had been apprehended and made to face the full weight of the law. This is the path to follow because the primary responsibility of government is the welfare and security of its citizens.
Therefore, the off season governorship election in Edo State coming up next year and the one to be held in Ondo subsequently should not turn out to be another ‘war’ as was experienced in Kogi in the interest of the nation’s democracy and the rule of law.
We demand that law enforcement agencies should ensure that all actors in the political space must play by the rules and extant laws in future and insist on consequences for whatever infraction committed and agree with the submission of former President Goodluck Jonathan, that the election of anybody is not worth the blood of a Nigerian.
Politicians must also change their present do-or-die attitude to politics which should be seen as a game rather than a do-or-die affair which is at the heart of the bloodshed that had characterized the nation’s democracy. Why for instance should a politician genuinely desirous to serve the people kill the same citizens he intends to rule?
Again, it is imperative that the political parties should review downward the cost of nomination forms in line with the proposed further amendment of the Electoral Act 2010 as sponsored by the Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege. The 9th National Assembly is further charged to expedite action on the proposed law which also seeks to make electronic voting compulsory in future polls.
The National Orientation Agency, NOA and the political parties also have onerous duty to educate Nigerians that elections should not be warfare as those who lose today may win tomorrow while the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission should set the machinery in motion to drastically reduce the salaries and allowances of public office holders in the country as part of measures to make public office less attractive in the country.
We believe that the contest for public offices will be made less vicious and bloody if in the final analysis the lucre and paraphernalia attached, which are the root cause of political violence are substantially reduced to bring down the cost of governance so that only those genuinely interested in serving the people will seek election and deliver the dividends of democracy to the people unlike what obtains currently whereby political offices are designed for the highest bidder.
We commiserate with the husband of the Late woman leader, and former councilor, Elder Simeon Abuh and his family over the gruesome murder as well as the families of others killed in Kogi and demand that the murderers be fished out and made to face the full wrath of the law.
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