A coalition of youth groups in Kogi State on Thursday stormed major streets in Lokoja, the state capital to protest what they called anti-democratic activities of the Social Democratic Party and its Governorship candidate in the November 11 governorship election, Muritala Yakubu Ajaka.
The protesting youths who were drawn from major political parties, including the Peoples Democratic Party, condemned the SDP and Ajaka for their attempt to disrupt the peace of the state by “hiring thugs to harras and intimidate ” officials in the Lokoja state office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The protesters numbering hundreds also condemned the SDP and Ajaka for their various attempt to blackmail the state police command and the Commissioner of Police, Bethrand Onuoha.
They frowned at the recent allegations made by Farouk Adejoh, the spokesman of the Muri/Sam Governorship Campaign Council against Onuoha and the police command describing the allegations as baseless and unfounded.
The youths called on the INEC and security agencies not to succumb to blackmail from SDP and Ajaka, urging them to focus on delivering their mandates.
The protesting youths, who stop over at the INEC office in Lokoja, said : ” it was normal in election tribunals cases to ask for inspection of election materials but that a situation in which INEC officials would continue to be intimidated in line with the alleged sinister motives of the SDP and its candidate would be resisted. ”
They commended INEC for ensuring credible conduct of the November 11 governorship election, which has been adjudged to be the best in the history of election in the state
The protesters called
on the SDP to toe the path of integrity and accept the wishes of the people, which they demonstrated with their votes on November 11, 2023.
The various speakers at a rally to round off the protest described the threat by SDP and Muritala Ajaka to burn down INEC as a threat to Nigeria’s democracy.
The PDP Youth Leader for Kabba Bunu Local Government Area, Oluwakayode Emmanuel, said : “For the first time in the history of Kogi State, we had a very peaceful and orderly election that was violence-free.
“We want to commend our Governorship Candidate, Sen. Dino Melaye who accepted the outcome of the election and said he was not going to challenge the process at the Tribunal.
“We were therefore taken aback by Muritala Ajaka whose party has no structure in the State but is threatening to cause crisis by trying to intimidate INEC.
“We are calling on INEC not succumb to any intimation by the SDP.
“The election was the freest and most credible we have ever witnessed in the State.
“We are also using this medium to call on security agencies to call Muritala Ajaka to order, not create crisis in Kogi State.”
Also, Rt. Hon Bello Hassan, former Majority Leader, Kogi State House of Assembly, urged the security agencies, the presidency and other authorities to call the SDP Governorship Candidate to order.
He noted that it was becoming obvious that he wants to cause a breakdown of law and order in the State.
“We are using this medium to ask President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to call Alhaji Muritala Ajaka to order.
“He cannot be above the law. The Kogi election was without mincing words, the best we have ever had.
“The people of Kogi State have spoken and no amount of threat to democracy, wanting to disrupt the activities of INEC, will change the results.
“The people of the State will resist any attempt to undermine their wishes and aspirations as displayed by voting for the APC,” he stated.
Another protester, who identified himself as Jimoh Suleiman, said, “people should be allowed to go about their lawful business.
“We are at peace in Kogi State except for the present crisis Muritala Ajaka is trying to create.
“For the first time, we had a peaceful and orderly election devoid of violence.
“INEC and security agencies did their best,” he said.
He wondered why Muritala Ajaka and his sponsors were trying to undermine INEC and security agencies for alleged dubious motives.
On his part, Comr. Richard Otitoleke, described the threat by the SDP as a threat to democracy.
“No one is above the law. We are worried that for a party that is structureless, with no visible presence in the State to threaten to burn down INEC and undermine the credibility of Commission, it is an anomaly that must not be allowed to stand.
“The Kogi election has been won and lost, we call on the SDP to take a cue from the PDP and not heighten tension in the State.
“INEC has conducted the best election ever in the State,” he said.
Also adding their voices, both Adams Ahmed and Amb Gege Hussaini said the state had been peaceful after the election.
They said ongoing attempt by the SDP and Ajaka to discredit the INEC was an afterthought,saying this is uncalled for.