The CLO is bothered by the stems from the recurrent hate speech, cycle of violence and the pervading culture off conspiracy of silence by its critical stakeholders in the face of flagrant violation of the provisions of the electoral law and democratic credentials.
Come November 11th the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), will hold Governorship elections in four states vis, Kogi, Bayelsa, Imo and
Following the outcome of the last General Elections, INEC is already under heavy criticisms and lost public trust because the the march,2023 elections were marred by irregularities. To say it straight, INEC compromised its integrity. It did not fulfil its promise to deliver credible and transparent elections and that is why many cases relating to the elections are before the various election tribunals.
With the upcoming Governorship elections in the already mentioned states, INEC has the opportunity to repair or further mare its already battered image.
We are worried that even before the elections, some of the states have been turned into avoidable war zones with many lives lost and properties destroyed. In Kogi State for instance, the incumbent Governor, Yahaya Bello, whose anointed candidate, Ahmed Usman Ododo, is flying the flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC), seems bent on muzzling the opposition.
Apart from the war he has declared on some of the candidates, especially Dino of the people’s democratic party PDP and Murtala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr. Bello has reportedly warned traditional rulers in the state not to receive candidates of other political parties in their palaces.
We consider his actions as an acceptance that his administration has failed to deliver on its promises to the people and like he did in 2019, while seeking a second term, he would out of desperation evoked or reenact the same power and culture of impunity and extra judicial means to secure victory for his candidate.
Mr. Bello has not only created the atmosphere to engage in extrajudicial killings, he has allegedly used state agencies to perpetuate same, recruited thugs to compromise the electoral process and sway victory the way of his anointed candidate, who was prior to his emergence, the Auditor General for Local Government; the very person that has made the payment of full salaries to Local Government workers an impossible task.
Ododo, it was, who working with the State Auditor General, Yakubu Okala, superintendent over an unending screening that weeded many bonafide civil servants out of service.
“Many not only see Mr. Bello support for him as a face-saving measure; get someone to help cover his tracks”
Ododo is not only from Okene like Bello, he is also from the same ward with him. It is generally believe in the state that There is more to the romance than meets the eyes.
That is not however the issue. The real issue and the real fear is his plan to unleash violence and mayhem on the state before, during and after the election in his usual desperate bid to install his anointed candidate.
For now, he has successful enlisted some members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, many of whom have joined in taking on ‘Ododo’ as their official vehicle plate numbers and not even the security agencies are able to halt this ugly trend of event that is seen as a cover up for electoral crime and the promotion of violence before, during and after the election.
As a body, we call on the Federal Government to heed the repeated calls by well-meaning critical stakeholders in kogi state Nigerians to call Mr. Bello to order and stern the tide of abuse of power of incumbency, negative party solidarity and the manipulations of state security agents for evil mechinations against the innocent electorates thereby create fertile grounds of anomy for the subversion of the popular mandate of the people.
Measures must be taken to protect the lives and properties of the electorates to peacefully engage the electoral process, make the best informed choice. The lives and properties of the various candidates must also protected. This siege Bello on kogi state must not be allowed to fester or continue as no one is above the law, doing otherwise is a collateral damage and danger to our nascent democracy and Nigerians across board must not sit back and continue to watch him endanger a project for whom many put their lives down to enthrone.
We are watching to see what action the Tinubu led Federal Government would take to reassure Nigerians that it is ready to protect our democracy and checkmate those determined to bring it to harm’s way.
If Mr. Bello feels he is popular and within his conscience feels he has not in any way shortchanged the state and his people, he does not need to be this desperate. Democracy is about the wishes of the majority and the ballot box should be the decider, not guns, not threats and not hateful propaganda.
The kogi electoral mappings of 2019 is still fresh; how the state was terrorised, killing and maiming were orhest trated just to secure a second term in office.
These early warnings have become necessary in view of the present palpable fears in Kogi State. The international community should beam its searchlight on Kogi State. The process must not be compromised in favour of any party or candidate. All press for is peaceful, free, fair and credible election in Kogi and other states Steve Aluko-Daniel. Director civil Liberties Organization, 25th July, 2023