Kogi: Yahaya Bello, SDP guber candidate trade blames over assassination attempts

KOGI State governor Yahaya Bello, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Muritala Ajaka, traded blames over alleged assassination attempts on Saturday, June 3.

While the Kogi State government accused Ajaka of attempting to kill Bello, following an attack on the governor’s convoy, the SDP said the governor was behind an attempt to kill its candidate, Ajaka.

Earlier on Saturday, Bello’s convoy was attacked by thugs along the Abuja-Lokoja highway.

The state government issued a statement after, saying Ajaka was responsible for the incident, which occurred near the naval base, a few kilometres from Lokoja, the state capital.

According to a statement by the Kogi State Commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo, the incident left many injured, including security operatives who foiled the attack.

The commissioner said the attack occurred at 12:30 pm after Ajaka’s convoy blocked the road.

Ajaka is a former national deputy publicity secretary of the APC. He defected to the SDP after he was disqualified from participating in the APC guber primaries in April.

He was adopted as the SDP candidate two weeks after.

Fanwo, the Kogi information commissioner, alleged that Ajaka’s armed thugs shot at the governor’s convoy with rifles and shotguns.

“The gunmen suspected to be political thugs of the SDP, having sighted the convoy of Bello approaching, blocked the road and started shooting at the convoy.

“A Tundra branded with the logo and flags of the party also blocked the governor’s vehicle, and the occupants were armed with rifles and shotguns.”

He, however, noted that the governor left the scene injured.

He also said security operatives who sustained injuries in the attack were sent to medical centres for treatment.

“But thank God our governor left the scene unscathed, and there is no cause for panic.

“Some security aides and others attached to the governor sustained some degrees of injuries and have been rushed to medical facilities for attention.”

The commissioner urged the people of Kogi State to stay calm while security agents handle the incident.

He assured that those behind the attack would be brought to book as the state government would ensure that there is law and order in the state.

The commissioner also noted that “the governor has warned that no APC member should be involved in any reprisal attack as insecurity from any quarter will be met with stiff penalties”.

Meanwhile, the SDP has also claimed that Ajaka escaped assassination by the whiskers after his motorcade was attacked by gunmen personally led by the governor, Yahaya Bello, on Saturday afternoon.

According to a statement signed by Faruk Adejo Audu, Director of Communications, Muritala Yakubu Organisation, the governorship aspirant “only survived by the power of God”.

“Mr Ajaka, who was on his way to keep an appointment with the Mai Geri, a first-class traditional ruler of Lokoja and the Attah Igala in Idah, decided to abort the journey and return to Abuja after conferring with the Commander of the Lokoja Naval Base,” the statement said.

The statement claimed the state governor’s car was parked a few meters in front and was used to barricade the road while the gunmen attacked Ajaka.

“This again is another low score by Mr Yahaya Bello in the exercise of crude power and brute force.

“Bello is on record to have unleashed guns and gunmen on several citizens during his eight years draconian rule. Several persons have been killed by his hoodlums during electioneering, while others are missing.

    “Ajaka, until recently, was a member of the APC who was forced out of the governorship nomination by Mr Yahaya Bello, who used minions and proxies to obtain an injunction from a Lokoja High Court restraining him from participating in the primaries.

    “The brute action today is obviously a continuation of Bello’s desperation to stop Ajaka from continuing in the election.”

    The SDP appealed to President Bola Tinubu to demonstrate that his administration will not permit the brigandage of the last eight years, which had led to the deaths of thousands of Nigerians.

    “Election is still five months away, but if Mr Bello does not get a strong signal that violence would not be allowed in the new administration, several of our citizens will be killed by his thugs and gunmen before the polls,” the statement released by the SDP added.

    Beloved John is an investigative reporter with International Centre for Investigative Reporting.

    You can reach her via: [email protected]

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