Over 70 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that have been in the struggle for credible elections in Nigeria for over 20 years have called on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun, and the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, to urgently ensure that politicians stoking violence in the state with inciting statements and political brigandage that have led to loss of lives and property are made to face the law.
The CSOs specifically called on the IGP to declare the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Muritala Ajaka, wanted, if he continues to ignore Police invitations for investigations into acts of political violence in the state, moves about with “suspected thugs armed to the teeth” and undermines security efforts of the Police and other agencies as stated in a recent statement by the Kogi State Police Command.
The Coalition for Credible Elections in Nigeria (CCE), Kogi State Young Professionals, and concerned civic organisations, staged a peaceful walk in Abuja on Saturday, after submitting a petition to the IGP, titled, “PETITION FOR A THOROUGH INVESTIGATION INTO POLITICAL VIOLENCE IN KOGI STATE AND THE ROLE OF SDP GOVERNORSHIP CANDIDATE, MR MURTALA YAKUBU AJAKA”.
They displayed placards with inscriptions such as “Anyone who ignores Police invitations must be arrested immediately”, “arrest and prosecute killers of Khadijat now”, “Gov. Bello, don’t be soft on promoters of violence”, “we demand peaceful elections in Kogi State”, and “IGP must declare Ajaka wanted now”, among others.
Addressing the press on behalf of others during the road walk, the Coordinator,
Coalition for Credible Elections, Comrade Israel Abiodun, noted that the major focus of the Peace Walk for Kogi State and material focus of the Coalition’s petition to the IGP was the political violence being allegedly orchestrated by some politicians, ahead of the November 11 governorship election in the state.
The Coordinator was flanked by Barrister Jeff Uwaifo, Hajia Aisha Ibrahim and Comrade Fatimah Qudus.
He said, “We are concerned that the Police in Kogi State have mentioned one of the Parties’ Governorship candidates in person of Mr. Muritala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party, whose actions, the authorities said, had been undermining security efforts in the state.
“The Police, in a recent statement, said he had been invited on several occasions, just like other candidates, in line with investigations into allegations of violence but that he had refused to honour the invitations, yet, up till now, he has not been declared wanted when we all know that he doesn’t have constitutional immunity but already acting above the law.”
The CSOs also demanded justice for Khadijat Yahaya, a female All Progressives Congress (APC) supporter, who was allegedly killed by SDP thugs, saying that the claim by the SDP that the harmless lady was a thug did not make any sense, particularly coming from a party, whose candidate had been accused by the Police of moving around with “suspected thugs armed to the teeth”.
They quoted the Kogi State Police Command as saying, “His (Muritala Yakubu) riding rough-shod and engaging in political brinkmanship and brigandage is an ill-wind that blows no one any good. For instance on the complaint of Breach of Security Against The Executive Governor of Kogi State at Banda on 3rd June, 2023, the SDP Candidate, Murtala Yakubu Ajaka, has consistently refused to honour Police several invitations to give his own side of the story!
“Again, since he applied for Police Security, he was invited to come but till date, he refused to show up, he moves around with a retinue of suspected political thugs armed to the teeth. Consequently, the above facts and scenario, coupled with his recalcitrance and obduracy have continued to jeopardise Police Investigation and maintenance of law and order in the State.”
The CSOs, therefore, said, “It is for this reason that we are calling on the Nigeria Police Force to declare Mr Ajaka wanted if he fails to honour Police invitation, moves around with armed thugs, undermines security efforts and constitutes a threat to the peace of Kogi State, as has been said. Not acting on these allegations does not speak well of the fight against crime and political brigandage in Nigeria.
“We can’t have a situation whereby anyone will be acting with impunity while people are dying. The young lady, Khadijat Yahaya, who was murdered in cold-blood allegedly by SDP thugs cannot be allowed to die like that without proper investigations, arrest and prosecution of culprits.
“The SDP managers have, unfortunately, labelled this lady a thug. She must get justice. We wonder how a man accused of moving around with ‘thugs armed to the teeth’ would turn around to call an innocent soul a thug.
“Mr. Ajaka has been fond of promoting ethnic divisions and supporting violence even by Police admissions and he cannot be allowed to continue riding roughshod on Kogi State without the intervention of security agencies.”