A socio cultural group, Ojuju Agbadufu Igala, has called on International communities to compel President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC-led federal government to desist from instigating political and ethno-religious crisis in Kogi State.
In a letter signed by Ukwenya Chris and Maji Isah, the group urged the United Nations, African Union, Transparency International, ECOWAS and others to investigate the role played by Buhari-led federal government in “the electoral fraud, political violence and political murders witnessed during the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State and hold whoever is found culpable accountable under relevant national and international laws.”
The group also called on the international community to compel the Federal Government of Nigeria and Kogi State Government to compensate the families of all the victims of electoral violence and political murder that were committed before, during and after the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State.
Read full contents of the Letter here:
INCREASING USE OF STATE SPONSORED VIOLENCE AS A POLITICAL TOOL IN NIGERIA AND ITS IMPLICATIONS ON INTERNAL SECURITY: THE 16TH NOVEMBER, 2019 GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION IN KOGI STATE OF NIGERIA IN FOCUS
We the undersigned members and Executive Committee of Ojuju Agbadufu Igala Forum (Igala Youths Congress) on behalf of the entire good and law abiding Igala people of Eastern Senatorial District of Kogi State, Nigeria hereby and most respectfully wish to notify you and indeed the peoples of the world that cherish democracy and its enduring principles, of the carefully orchestrated use of State sponsored violence by Alhaji Yahaya Bello with active collaboration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s led All People’s Congress (APC) Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to achieve some narrow and selfish political ends during the gubernatorial election that was held in Kogi State on 16th November, 2019.
We request that you join us to unequivocally condemn the brazen and broad daylight rape of democracy by Alhaji Yahaya Bello and his criminal gangs with active collaboration of the FGN. We further request that you help us to enjoin, admonish and if necessary, adopt appropriate legal and diplomatic measures to compel the FGN with its partisan, corrupt and criminal Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to annul the fake results of the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State that fraudulently declared Alhaji Yahaya Bello winner in the interest of justice, truth and peace of Kogi State in particular and Nigeria in general.
Following the sudden and unfortunate demise of late Prince Abubakar Audu of APC during the 2015 gubernatorial election in Kogi State before that election was concluded, Alhaji Yahaya Bello who contested the primaries of APC with the late Prince Abubakar Audu and emerged first runner-up was controversially drafted by a certain Northern Nigeria cabal with vested interests in Kogi State to replace the late gubernatorial candidate.
The emergence of Alhaji Yahaya Bello was controversial in that, most political observers in Nigeria thought and reasonably so, that Mr James Faleke who was late Prince Abubakar Audu’s running mate in that election would have ordinarily succeeded his late principal to conclude the election and not Yahaya Bello that lost the primaries.
With benefit of hindsight and emergent facts, Mr Faleke was by-passed principally because he is a Christian and not for the flimsy excuse being bandied in many quarters that although he is an indigene of Kogi State by birth, he had represented a constituency of Lagos State in the Federal House of Representatives previously and therefore ineligible to be Governor of Kogi State. Were that excuse tenable, why was he drafted to be the running mate of late Prince Abubakar Audu ab-initio?.
Another latent reason that later emerged was because Mr James Faleke came from the political stables of a popular Lagos political godfather that was perceived by the Northern Nigeria political establishment as a threat.
Therefore, the cabal with tacit but subtle support of Sokoto caliphate settled for Alhaji Yahaya Bello, a muslim political neophyte from Ebira minority tribe of Kogi State.
Predictably, Alhaji Yahaya Bello rode on the pole position of his late benefactor in the inconclusive gubernatorial election of 2015 with late Prince Abubakar Audu’s popular support base to occupy Kogi State Government House without sweat.
In reality, the caliphate and the Northern cabal with the APC government of President Muhammadu Buhari only took advantage of a constitutional lacuna that neither contemplated the death of a candidate during an election in Nigeria nor prescribed any remedial action thereto to execute the deft political manoeuvres that produced Alhaji Yahaya Bello against the rightful Mr James Faleke.
Up until this moment, it is doubtful if the federal legislature in Nigeria has done anything to correct the lacuna in case of future re-occurrence and if it is so, it is because such lacunas suit the political interests of the cabal. The foregoing therefore is but a snippet of the huge democratic intrigue and manoeuvres that undermines the people’s right and hinders democratic development in Nigeria.
It was also popularly reported that President Muhammadu Buhari said he didn’t have funds to conduct fresh gubernatorial election in Kogi State after the death of the APC Gubernatorial candidate in the inconclusive election in Kogi State.
Therefore, what happened in November 2019 Gubernatorial election in Kogi State is a continuation of the conspiracy of the FGN to allow an unpopular and rejected candidate of the APC to remain in Kogi State Government House.
WASTEFUL CORRUPT AND BAD GOVERNANCE IN KOGI STATE UNDER ALHAJI YAHAYA BELLO
At the restoration of democracy in Nigeria in 1999 after a protracted period of military rule, the late Prince Abubakar Audu emerged as the democratically elected governor of Kogi State on the platform of the defunct All Peoples Party (APP).
The late visionary governor that hailed from the Igala majority tribe of Kogi State laid a solid foundation for the development of the State in terms of infrastructure, peaceful co-existence and social amenities.
Unfortunately, because of internecine wrangling, envy and what some people regarded as oppressive tendencies of late Prince Abubakar Audu, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) led FGN at the time used a section of Nigerian military to interfere in the 2003 gubernatorial election in Kogi State to ensure its candidate in the person of Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, another Igala man became victorious.
Alhaji Ibrahim Idris finished his first tenure and went ahead to secure a second term against the keen challenge of late Prince Abubakar Audu of APP; with both parties employing full-scale thuggery and all manners of electoral intrigues to out-do each other.
Exploiting yet another Constitutional lacuna, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris secured an additional year to his second term of four years when his election was nullified by the courts and he won the consequent re-run election.
Thus, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris ended being the Governor of Kogi State for two terms of nine years instead of the maximum eight years prescribed by the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN).
Again, has the federal legislature done anything to forestall future re-occurrence? Your guess is as good as ours. Just like the lacuna that brought Alhaji Yahaya Bello to power in Kogi State, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris governed Kogi State for nine years because it suited a certain cabal within the Northern political establishment.
This is how democracy works in Nigeria. Many Nigerians particularly those from opposition parties believed that Kogi State achieved only little development under PDP.
Consequently, majority of the peoples of Kogi State became frustrated and got fed-up with the serial disappointments from successive political leadership of their State. They therefore desired a radical change in leadership and once again developed nostalgic fervour for late Prince Abubakar Audu’s leadership who instantly assumed a cult hero personality in Kogi State during the run-up to the 2015 gubernatorial election. Late Abubakar Audu easily defeated the pack of other contending APC candidates in the party’s primaries to become APC’s gubernatorial candidate in the 2015 election.
As usual he was generally perceived to be on track to winning that election with the aid of APC led FGN before tragedy struck with his sudden and unexpected demise before the election was concluded. A discerning mind could therefore understand the euphoria that greeted the exit of PDP led government in Kogi State in 2015 and the high expectation that welcomed the youthful APC governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello who against known democratic norms came from a minority tribe.
Signs that things may get worse under Alhaji Yahaya Bello in Kogi State began to emerge immediately the youthful Governor assumed office in the State when rather than constitute a broad-based cabinet comprising energetic youths, senior citizens and experienced technocrats to help restore the State to path of development, the Governor settled for a crop of young inexperienced youths. Before long, he embarked on many anti-people policies with the help of his youthful but intolerant cabinet thereby unleashing harsher living conditions on the State.
For example, his protracted and controversial workers’ verification exercise in Kogi State intended to weed out ghost workers from the State civil service turned out eventually to be a smokescreen for political witch-hunt of the majority Igala tribe and an opportunity to loot public funds. He used the exercise to unduly suspend, retire or sack many civil servants of Igala extraction under excuses that were not only ridiculous, but which ran contrary to extant civil service rules of the State.
Predictably, Alhaji Yahaya Bello went on to replace all the Igala civil servants that he removed unjustifiably from office with mostly his Ebira kith and kins with ultimate objective of decimating the Igala stock working in the State civil service and by extension, dilute their natural majority. The number of Igala civil servants that died in road traffic accidents while travelling to the State capital to attend the bogus verification exercise, or slumped and died from hunger and dehydration while waiting endlessly on queues or outrightly committed suicide out of sheer frustration over many months of unpaid salaries is huge.
Despite these gory outcomes of his unwarranted assault on the Igala majority of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello remained unperturbed and carried on as if nothing untoward happened simply because those outcomes fitted perfectly with his plans and that of the cabal that brought him to power.
More worrisome was the issue of corruption under Alhaji Yahaya Bello that assumed a pandemic proportion as nothing on ground in Kogi State justified the huge amount of federal allocations; including several Paris Club Debt refunds, that he received over a period of four years. Some financial and political analysts believe that the revenue that accrued to Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s administration in Kogi State from the Federation Account in four years between 2015 and 2019 exceeded by far the sum of monies received by all the democratically elected Governors of the State before him.
Yet, social infrastructure in the State collapsed totally under Alhaji Yahaya Bello while the quality of life of average Kogi State residents deteriorated progressively below that of war ravaged areas of the world. Kogi State under Alhaji Yahaya Bello became a metaphor for corruption, State sponsored violence, pervasive insecurity, under-development and general maladministration in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, allegations of Alhaji Yahaya Bello doling out huge amounts of Kogi State’s resources to members of a cabal in the ruling APC FGN and certain APC stalwarts in Abuja in order to cling to power against the wishes of majority of the peoples of Kogi State were rife in many quarters. Alhaji Yahaya Bello was known to openly throw wads of bank notes to crowds of on-lookers in Lokoja and Abuja amidst backlogs of unpaid salaries of Kogi State civil servants for upward of three years.
Additionally, Alhaji Yahaya Bello had succeeded in ethnicizing governance in Kogi State by the twilight of his administration in November 2019 to the extent that his Ebira kith and kins boasted openly that if the so-called majority tribe in Kogi State (Igalas) attempted to stop Alhaji Yahaya Bello from achieving a second term in office, they would practically shoot their way to power.
This was aptly depicted in the onomatopoeic and gesture laden song that they composed and sang provocatively that went viral on social media before and during the !6th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State. Did Nigeria’s federal security agents see anything wrong with that? Certainly not because it accorded with their overall plan to thwart the wishes of the majority through the use of State sponsored violence as was revealed during the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State.
Additionally, there were information in different open sources before the 16th November, 2019 election that Alhaji Yahaya Bello with the aid of the FGN, the Northern cabal and INEC have perfected plans to rig the gubernatorial election in Kogi State. We also heard and reported information that Alhaji Yahaya Bello was training militia gangs in the name of State Vigilante Service that he intended to kit in fake military and police uniforms and use to rig the election. Similarly, It was open knowledge that the Nigerian Customs Service ((NCS) had on some occasions before the 16th November, 2019 election intercepted consignments of illicit military hardware imported from China that were linked to Kogi State Government under Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
However, the FGN did nothing about all the reports neither was anything heard of those seizures subsequently because some powerful Nigerians were interested in Alhaji Yahaya Bello remaining the Governor of Kogi State at all cost as the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in the State later proved. We attach our earlier petition in this regard before the election to the attention of the international community.
THE 16TH NOVEMBER, 2019 GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS IN KOGI STATE
Before the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State, majority of peoples in the State, including Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s Ebira tribal base desired a genuine change and an end to his mis-governance. In fact, some prominent citizens of the State including the traditional ruler of Ebira land had voiced disappointment severally and openly over the lack of development in Kogi State under Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
However, in a misplaced judgement and transferred aggression, the Ebira traditional ruler heaped the blame of Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s maladministration on the Igala majority claiming that it was the Igalas that installed him as a governor and the same Igalas held the political ace that would either allow or stop him from achieving a second term in office.
The traditional ruler made this assertion despite the common knowledge in the State that the Igalas inspite of their numerical majority were at the butt of Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s mis-governance.
As for the majority Igala tribe, although Alhaji Yahaya Bello had consistently antagonised it and from all indications had primed the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election along tribal lines, the Igalas still believed strongly in established democratic principles and norms of free and fair elections and emergence of victors through popular and majority support. The Igala people therefore went into the 16th November, 2019 election relying on the triumph of popular and majority support for candidates over nepotistic sentiments.
Accordingly, despite the use of some impressionable and unscrupulous persons within the ranks of the Igala people by Alhaji Yahaya Bello to unleash violence and extra-judicial killing of political opponents in the presidential and legislative elections of March 2019 on behalf of his ruling APC party, the Igalas remained resolute and calm; believing in time tested democratic principles, procedures and processes to achieve their desires. Events of 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State were to however not only prove them wrong, but shook their trust and confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari’s led APC government to their very foundations.
First, the election turned out to be a charade and a travesty of democratic processes; characterised by open hostility, intimidation and use of State sponsored violence to disenfranchise opponents. In extreme cases, hooded armed gangs dressed in fake military and police uniforms invaded polling and collation centres while shooting sporadically and indiscriminately into crowds of electorate thereby injuring, killing and scaring away genuine and law-abiding voters in the process. These armed gangs with the aid of federal security agents deployed to cover the election carted away electoral materials to unknown destinations where they criminally and fraudulently wrote results in favour of Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
One widely reported instance, the hooded armed gangs of Alhaji Yahaya Bello attempted to abduct PDP’s incumbent Governor Makinde of Oyo State that came to Kogi State to offer support to the PDP’s gubernatorial candidate. Meanwhile, nobody molested or harassed APC’s incumbent Governor Nasir El’Rufai of Kaduna State, a member of the Northern cabal that kept going in and out of Kogi State in pursuit of the broader Northern agenda of ensuring Alhaji Yahaya Bello remained in office.
Furthermore, Alhaji Yahaya Bello with the help of his armed militias and federal security agents prevented any Igala politician including PDP’s gubernatorial candidate (an Igala man) or their agents from entering Adavi, Okehi and Okene local government areas that formed his political strong base to campaign. Conversely, nobody prevented Alhaji Yahaya Bello or his mostly armed agents from campaigning anywhere in Kogi State; including Igala land notwithstanding his antagonism and ill-treatment of Igalas.
It was widely reported that on the only occasion that some aggrieved electorates booed Alhaji Yahaya Bello and his convoy as he left Ankpa town after a political campaign preparatory to the 16th November 2019 election, his security aids opened fire on the remonstrating electorates, killing an innocent lad that was conducting his personal affairs quietly nearby.
Till date, there has neither been an enquiry nor sanctioning of the trigger-happy aids of Alhaji Yahaya Bello let alone compensating the family of the deceased lad. To the former Governor and his armed militias, another Igala deviant had been dealt with appropriately.
From Anyigba to Dekina, from Ejule to Okpo, from Akpanya to Ibaji and indeed all over Igala land, Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s hooded armed militia aided by federal security agents that are paid by Nigerian tax payers stomped polling areas, collation centres and homes of political opponents unchallenged; killing, maiming and snatching or destroying electoral materials in the process on behalf of their principal.
In Lokoja and Kotonkarfe, police helicopters were scrambled and seen physically by many firing tear gas canisters and live bullets into crowds of electorates to scare, drive away or kill innocent voters that were out to perform their civic duties. The same helicopters were subsequently used to evacuate electoral materials and INEC officials to the fortified and safe confines of Kogi State Government House in Lokoja where results were as usual, criminally and fraudulently written in favour of Alhaji Yahaya Bello. The culmination of Alhaji Yahaya Bello and APC blood-thirsty adventure in Kogi State during the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in the State was the shooting and burning alive of one of PDP’s women leaders in her own house in Ochadamu village, Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State on 17th November, 2019.
Her offence was that she stood to ensure the safety of balloting in her polling unit as a woman political leader in her community.This gory and dastardly act goes to show the anarchic and despotic tendencies of Alhaji Yahaya Bello that has the tacit endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari and his APC led FGN. Over all, the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State was not only a sham and height of electoral fraud in Nigeria, but also an open declaration of war on law abiding citizens of Kogi State; particularly the Igalas whose only offence was that they desired change and development in Kogi State and were out to exercise their franchise to actualise these desires.
THE ROLE OF INEC
Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was established principally to conduct free and fair elections devoid of partisanship or support or preference by it for any political party or particular candidates. However, based on activities of this Nigeria’s electoral umpire from inception till date, it is doubtful if INEC has lived up to this expectation. INEC thus far is serially accused of bias, complicity in electoral frauds and outright partisanship in virtually all the elections that it has conducted in Nigeria.
The corruption and rot in INEC manifested clearly in the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State. Before that election, allegations were rife in different quarters that Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the APC candidate induced INEC with billions of Naira in bribes.
It was also alleged that the electoral body was under instructions of the APC led FGN to ensure Alhaji Yahaya Bello was returned elected. Do we believe these allegations based on what transpired in the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State? Our answer is an unequivocal and capital YES!
First, a cursory look at the dispositions of both the permanent and ad-hoc staff of INEC that conducted the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State revealed ethnic bias.
For example, majority of the staff that INEC deployed to Igala land were from Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s Ebira tribe complimented only by a few Okun (Yoruba tribe of Kogi State) hands and far fewer staff that were not indigenes of Kogi State. Conversely, no single ad-hoc or permanent staff of INEC of Igala extraction was posted to Ebira land in order to pave way for the massive rigging that eventually occurred in that area in favour of Alhaji Yahaya Bello. Even if any Igala INEC staff were posted to Ebira land during the election, it was doubtful if he or she would have dared to venture there for fear of dear life and concerns over their personal safety.
Through this arrangement, INEC was able to aid Alhaji Yahaya Bello to fraudulently post huge figures for himself in Ebira land that traditionally was known to post the least figures among the three senatorial districts of Kogi State during all previous elections. On the other hand, the mostly Ebira INEC staff that were posted to Igala land not only prevented the people of the area from doing what Alhaji Yahaya Bello did in Ebira land, but also manipulated election results of Igala land in favour of Alhaji Yahaya Bello thus preventing opposition candidates from that area from gaining clear majority vote the way Alhaji Yahay Bello got in Ebira land and Lokoja.
Therefore, responsibility for the huge and unprecedented electoral fraud that characterised the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State rests squarely on the shoulders of INEC. Its complicity in the criminal adventures of Alhaji Yahaya Bello and his armed gangs during that election doubtless spells doom for democracy in Nigeria.
Therefore, we dare to conclude here that unless INEC is radically reformed, we are afraid that the fraudulent experiments of INEC in Kogi State during the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election could become a default strategy in subsequent elections in Nigeria with tacit approval and support of incumbent FGN. Equally worrisome is that, rather than help deepen democracy in Nigeria INEC is helping incumbent governments to lay undesirable foundations for political violence that could lead to anarchy ultimately in Nigeria as electorates and opposition parties drawing lessons from what happened in Kogi State during the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election could devise counter strategies that may be violently contentious.
ROLES OF SECURITY AGENCIES
The primary role of security agencies during elections in Nigeria is to protect lives and properties before, during and after the elections; including safety of electoral materials and INEC officials through preventive and containment strategies. Since electoral violence and or disturbances are purely internal security matters, the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) has been the lead agency in election security matters and had been largely the dominant security actor during elections since Nigeria’s independence.
However, because as history has shown, the NPF had always been overwhelmed by the sheer size of electoral disturbances and violence in Nigeria since 1962. Some of these disturbances threatened Nigeria’s sovereignty necessitating increasing involvement of Nigeria’s Armed Forces in election security.
Similarly, other para-military agencies like the NCS, Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Prison Service (NPS), the Department of State Service (DSS) and lately the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) as well as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have all been drafted into the election security architecture of Nigeria.
Given this array of security outfits on the nation’s election security architecture therefore, it is reasonably to conclude that electoral violence and disturbances as means of achieving certain narrow electoral ends by politicians in Nigeria would have been reduced to the barest minimum.
Regrettably, there appear to be a proportional increase in electoral violence and disturbances, the increase of security agencies on the nation’s electoral security architecture notwithstanding. The reason for this is not far-fetched though to any discerning observer of events in Nigeria as the country’s security agencies have progressively become commercialized and will do the biddings of anybody or group or organisation with money to spend on them. Currently, most security agencies in Nigeria are mostly available to top government functionaries, politicians and rich businessmen or women while majority Nigerians remain vulnerable to whims and caprices of criminals and the security agencies themselves.
Accordingly, it is an open secret that both the hierarchy and operatives of all security agencies operating in Kogi State before, during and after the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election are in the pockets of Alhaji Yahaya Bello. Even the few Commanders that demonstrated good conscience and courage to do only what is right in the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State were either redeployed out of the State or given terse instructions from above to work for Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s victory.
Even the tough-talking Inspector General of Police (IGP) that promised professional conduct of his men during that election later came under superior instruction from above to ensure that Alhaji Yahaya Bello won at all cost. If the IGP or the NPF that he leads denies this assertion, let them defend the use of Police helicopters for election rigging as witnessed by many during the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State.
Also, why were certain notorious leaders of Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s armed militia and some APC stalwarts that were arrested either with automatic weapons or electoral materials or both in parts of Kogi State by security agencies during that election left off the hook almost immediately they were handed to the NPF to continue in their nefarious plots? Why did certain Police officers like Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s former Security Officer or ADC that was reported to have been posted out of Kogi State Command before the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election remain in Lokoja and was reported to have directed the helicopter rigging operations in Lokoja and Koton-karfe? Why was this particular security officer or ADC that was apprehended by elements of Force Headquarters’ detachments that were sent to Kogi State to monitor the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election released almost immediately and left to roam the nook and cranies of Lokoja and Koton-Karfe towns aiding and abetting electoral frauds through the use of violence and intimidation on behalf of Alhaji Yahaya Bello? Why did the Commanders of security agencies in Kogi State, including the military not deploy their troops optimally across the State especially to identified and potential violence flash points but instead chose to send their men only to strongholds of opposition candidates?
The simple answer is that they were obeying superior orders from above that were bent on emergence of Alhaji Yahaya Bello as the winner of that election at all cost. Our conclusion based on the conducts of security agencies in Kogi State during the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election is that Nigeria’s security agencies have lost credibility to be entrusted in participating in Nigerian elections.
If anything, they have joined INEC and desperate Nigerian politicians to destroy democracy progressively in Nigeria. And like INEC, we state emphatically that unless the international community holds Nigeria’s Commander-in-Chief and heads of the nation’s security agencies accountable for electoral violence in Nigeria, incumbent Nigerian Presidents and Governors will continue to use security agencies to thwart the genuine aspirations and wishes of law abiding electorates like President Muhammadu Buhari and Alhaji Yahaya Bello did in the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State.
DEATHS ASSOCIATED WITH THE NOVEMBER 16TH GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION IN KOGI STATE
The election in Kogi State resulted in some deaths of voters and people who were afraid to come out to vote and were taking shelter in their house because of the threat, intimidation, harassment and killing associated with the election. Below is a preliminary list of deaths from an investigation conducted by our organization:
1. The death of an APC member who was allegedly pursuing a PDP member at Ochadamu in Ofu LGA of Kogi State and in the process was alleged to have fallen on his own knife.
2. The death of Emmanuel Eneojo Maha. Eneojo Maha hails from Ogbadu-Anyigba in Dekina Local Government. Until his death, he was the Chairman of the Community Vigilante in the area. He was hit on the head by the hoodlums who came to destroy properties while celebrating Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s victory on Tuesday in Ogbadu-Anyigba. All attempt at rescuing Emmanuel both in Lokoja and Abuja was unsuccessful. He died from injuries sustained on his head after the battery on him.
3. The death of Mrs. Salome Acheju Abu, who was burnt alive in her House on the 18th of November, 2019 at Ochadamu, Ofu LGA by murderous APC thugs on the disguise of jubilating the election of their principal.
4. The death of a Youth Corper polling Staff through controversial downing while on election duties whose origin have been traced to Ofu LG.
5. The death of Bala Abdulkarim a staff of Dangote Cement Company Obajana, alleged to have been hit by a stray bullet pumped through his back while bending to cast his vote at a polling unit. The bullet was alleged to have come from the rampaging helicopter on election day in Lokoja.
6. The death of Gambo Muhammed , Ebira Koto at the Adankolo polling unit in Lokoja who died from from the assault of the militia of Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
7. Aaron, a gardener with Salem Wisdom School, Lokoja who died at Adankolo polling unit in Lokoja from bullets of the militia of Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
8. The killing of two young men by APC thugs at a polling Unit at Abocho in Dekina LGA killed by fake policemen dressed in SARS Uniform supervised by the Nigerian Police.
9. The death of an 8 years old boy in Anyigba Dekina Local Government, on election day hit by a stray bullet, allegedly from an angry APC thug
10. The killing of Senator Dino Melaye’s Nephew and one other voter in Ijumu LGA by rampaging APC thugs and Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s militias
11. One Salifu Agahiu from Abocho in Dekina LGA was stabbed to death for political revenge by APC thugs. His offence is that he resisted APC thuggery in Abocho.
12. The death of Adukwu Ochimana in Emewe in Dekina LG
13. A young lady harmed by bullet from one of the helicopters who struggled with life at FMC, Lokoja. She was was in her room when the bullets from the rampaging helicopter sprayed bullets that penetrated through the roof of the house and hit her at the perineum. She eventually died at same hospital.
THE ROLE OF FGN
It is common knowledge in Nigeria that successive central and State governments in Nigeria deploy State resources to manipulate elections in favour of their political parties and preferred candidates. For example, incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari had repeatedly told anyone that cared to listen back then that the PDP led FGN had continually used State resources to rig him out of the several Presidential elections that he contested between 2004 and 2015. It took only a strong coalition of opposition political parties and concession of a conscientious candidate of the then unpopular ruling PDP for President Muhammadu Buhari to become Nigeria’s President in 2015.
On assumption of office, President Muhammadu Buhari promised Nigerians electoral reforms among other things that would prevent use of State resources to manipulate outcomes of Nigerian elections in favour of candidates of ruling political parties.
However, from what we witnessed in 2019 general elections in Nigeria that gave President Muhammadu Buhari a second term in office, the Federal Government under him and the ruling APC have become the worst electoral offenders since the restoration of democratic governance in Nigeria.
For example, to ensure the victory of Alhaji Yahaya Bello in the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State, the FGN released the bail-out fund of over N30 billion that it has withheld for political reasons since the tenure of the last PDP Governor of Kogi State, Captain Idris Ichalla Wada, to Alhaji Yahaya Bello in the run-up to the election. As usual, it was alleged that Alhaji Yahaya Bello gave a chunk of the bail-out funds to certain members of the ruling cabal and some stalwarts of his APC party. The remaining amount was said to have been used to procure compromises of INEC, security agencies and for vote buying on an unprecedented scale in Nigeria as was witnessed during the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State.
Similarly, when it appeared that the APC was losing popularity and set to lose the election based on all indicators in Kogi State, the APC dominated Nigerian Legislature hastily approved the request by President Muhammadu Buhari to release additional N10 biliion to Kogi State Government under the leadership of Alhaji Yahaya Bello on the pretext that the FGN was refunding the money that Kogi State Government had used to repair some federal road infrastructure in the State on behalf of the FGN.
However, we were not deceived as even a blind man knew that there were no good roads in Kogi State, including in the capital city Lokoja that warranted such a hasty refund by the FGN. Simply put, the refund was a ploy by President Muhammadu Buhari and his APC government to buoy Alhaji Yahaya Bello up by availing him of more funds with which to bribe electoral officials, security agents and buy more votes.
By these very acts, President Muhammadu Buhari had shown that rather than carry out the electoral reforms that he promised Nigerians, he succeeded in raising the ante of electoral frauds in Nigeria through the very use of State resources. We therefore demand that Mr President, his ruling APC Party and Nigeria’s legislature be collectively held accountable for the electoral frauds, violence and political murders that took place in Kogi State during the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election.
We also enjoin Nigerians and international communities to regard President Muhammadu Buhari’s avowed war against corruption in Nigeria as nothing but mere political witch-hunting of opponents and perceived enemies. We also request the whole world to carefully investigate and discern the subtle political intrigues playing out in Kogi State since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power and particularly note the ethno-religious chivalry of the President and his Northern cabal.
There is a secret plan by these to annex Kogi State into the broader ethno-religious agenda of the so-called core North for which they regard the independent-minded and very knowledgeable Igala majority of Kogi State as a stumbling block. Lest we forget, we wish to remind the world that this is the former military government ignited ethno-religious fire that is eating out the soul of Plateau State today and we dare say that we are aware of similar clandestine plot for Kogi State. We the Igala people wish to assure them that they will not succeed as we shall resist them vehemently and legitimately.
Based on our foregoing submissions, we most respectfully enjoin all peace loving, democratic minded and conscientious persons, governments, non governmental organisations and the international community to please:
1. Compel the FGN to as a matter of urgency undertake genuine electoral reforms that will support and deepen true democracy in Nigeria.
2. Prevent the Nigerian judiciary from consummating the electoral charade and fraud committed by Alhaji Yahaya Bello with support of the FGN by paying close attention to how it dispenses judgement in the various appeals filed by aggrieved opposition candidates in the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State.
3. Compel relevant security agencies in Nigeria to investigate the electoral frauds, violence and political murders committed by Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s hooded armed militias during the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State and hold whosoever is found culpable accountable.
4. Compel the FGN to commission an independent investigation of what Kogi State Government used the bail-out funds and FGN refunds that it received prior to the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election for in the State.
5. Compel President Muhammadu Buhari and his APC led FGN with their cohorts to desist from instigating political and ethno-religious crisis in Kogi State.
6. Compel the FGN to commission an independent enquiry into the roles played by Nigeria’s security agents either through omission or by commission in the spate of electoral frauds, violence and political murders that took place during the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State.
7. Compel the FGN to commission an independent enquiry on the origin and roles played by hooded masked militias dressed in fake military and police uniforms with particular emphasis on the source (s) of the automatic weapons, that they openly brandished and the police/military uniform that was used throughout the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State.
8. Plead with the UN, AU and ECOWAS including local and international NGOs to investigate the role played particularly by the FGN in the electoral fraud, political violence and political murders witnessed during the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State and hold whoever is found culpable accountable under relevant national and international laws.
9. Compel the FGN to commission an independent enquiry into the use of Police assets and platforms like Police Helicopters to perpetrate political violence and electoral frauds during the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State.
10. Compel the FGN and Kogi State Government to compensate the families of all the victims of electoral violence and political murder that were committed before, during and after the 16th November, 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State.
While thanking you most sincerely for listening to our cries, we believe that you will join hands with us to make Kogi State and indeed Nigeria a free democratic society of our collective dream where all peoples shall leave progressively in peace and harmony, devoid of oppression, marginalisation and exclusion on the basis of tribe, status or creed.
Long Live Great Igala People!
Long Live Kogi State!!
Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Ukwenya Christophe – President in Council
Comr. Maji Isah – Clerk of Council
A socio cultural group, Ojuju Agbadufu Igala, has called on International communities to compel President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC-led federal government to desist from instigating political and ethno-religious crisis in Kogi State.