My fellow Kogites,
We remain grateful to God for the overall peace and security which we have enjoyed in Kogi State, both before and after the Presidential and National Assembly Elections on the 23rd of February, 2019.
I am impressed that our security services have quickly plugged identified loopholes through which isolated instances of violence marred the last round of elections, especially during the campaigns.
Through the efforts of vigilant operatives, and the cooperation of the various parties and their candidates, the last two weeks of campaigning for the next Elections have been generally peaceful across Kogi. Once more, I thank the men and women in uniform who protect and serve us in Kogi State for their vigilance. We look forward to their usual gallantry tomorrow.
In other words, even though we have more candidates contesting for election into the Kogi State House of Assembly tomorrow than we had for the Presidential and National Assembly Elections a fortnight ago, we have had peace despite the higher stakes for us as a State.
It is therefore clear to everybody now that electoral violence is a choice which individuals make out of their own desperation, and not because of any set of circumstances. Irrespective of appearances, people who provoke or perpetrate electoral violence do so because they lack inherent nobility of character and have an unwillingness to let the electorate decide.
I wish to assure all Kogites that we have made tighter security arrangements against the elections tomorrow. The Police and other law enforcement agencies have been fully mobilised and are on red alert. They have our mandate to do anything and everything necessary within the law to keep our people safe and ensure peaceful polls.
Accordingly, I urge parties, politicians and their supporters to continue maintaining the peace as any attempt to endanger the populace before, during and after the Elections will be met with stiff resistance.
Staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and all categories of Electoral Officers and ad hoc staff who are sent to Kogi State can expect full security coverage wherever they are stationed.
As long as they play by the rules and perform their duties with conscience they have nothing to fear. We will however hold anyone who facilitates electoral offences responsible and pursue their prosecution to the full extent of the law.
I must now address the senseless and perrenial conflicts with which some communities in Bassa Local Government Area have continued to trouble the peace and tranquility of Kogi State.
The people of Sheria and Oguma communities in particular must understand that we are now living in the 21st Century and there are legal ways of settling ethnic disputes over anything, including farmlands and fishing grounds.
Government has mediated and done everything to resolve these conflicts in the past. However, the senseless bloodletting which happened overnight yesterday simply tells us that the attackers are not ready to listen to reason.
Let it be known as of today therefore that our patience with these killings and burning of settlements is over. Enough is enough. We shall deal decisively with this matter henceforth. If people will not live together in peace, we have a duty as Government to enforce the peace and stop them from disturbing those who want to.
I hereby direct our security agencies to spare no resources in hunting down and arresting the culprits in these recent attacks. We are going to try them for murder and request for the maximum penalty since they have no qualms taking human lives.
In pursuit of long-term solutions, we are also considering the imposition of certain executive orders in the overriding public interest which are designed to finally abate this intolerable nuisance.
In the days ahead, I assure Kogites that we will so trouble those who trouble our peace in this atrocious manner that they will find themselves so occupied with too much troubles of their own to plot or execute further mischief.
I shall digress briefly at this point to address the lawsuit filed against the Administration yesterday by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) over alleged non-payment of their salaries. I am not surprised by the timing of the case considering the season were in, and the politicisation of institutions all over the place.
The refusal of the leadership of the Kogi State Judiciary to forward their staff payroll for the Pay Parade with the collusion of JUSUN leaders is well documented. I have pleaded unsuccessfully with them for months now to do the needful and spare their innocent members this trauma. The Kogi State House of Assembly has also tried to intervene only to be stopped by injunction from the Judiciary curiously obtained while courts claimed to be on strike. I have petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria to intervene since November last year, but we are yet to receive any feedback.
We are therefore happy that the Chief Judge of the Kogi State was also joined to the suit by JUSUN. We look forward to being educated on how a pay parade across all branches and cadres of our Civil Service is prejudicial to the independence of the Judicial Arm, but not the Legislative.
In any case, monies amounting to several months salaries due to Kogi State Civil Servants working in the Judiciary are sitting in the banks. My preoccupation is how to get that money to innocent staffers without breaching applicable service rules or our Collective Agreement with Labour. I trust the Almighty God that reason will prevail sooner than later.
On the elections tomorrow, I encourage our people to come out en masse and vote for their representatives without fear of duress, or of threat to their lives and properties.
God bless Kogi State.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
GOVERNOR OF KOGI STATE
8 March, 2019.
TEXT OF AN ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO TO THE PEOPLE OF KOGI STATE ON THE EVE OF THE 2019 STATE HOUSES OF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
Mar 08, 2019, 11:23 am0200
My fellow Kogites,