Some supporters of Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Kogi State stormed the State Secretariat of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) , in Lokoja, on Wednesday, to protest against what they termed “INEC’s dubious tampering with election materials”.
Security agencies, however, moved in on time to prevent an attack on the INEC Office, dispersing the protesters with tear gas and barricading the road leading to the office.
The protest, which was monitored by our correspondent, started peacefully, until some of the protesters, who behaved like thugs, started throwing harmful objects and harassing passers-by.
The SDP protesters were demanding that the election materials be moved to Abuja.
One of the protesters who identified himself as Danjuma told newsmen that they were sure the materials at the INEC Office had been compromised by the APC.
“We have it on good authority that the APC and Yahaya Bello have tampered with the election materials. The materials they are taking to the tribunal have already been doctored. So, we are calling on INEC to take the original material to INEC, or we will make Kogi State ungovernable.
“Those who stole the mandate of Kogi East must not live to enjoy it. We are calling on the President and also the National Chairman of INEC to ensure the doctored materials are immediately replaced with the original ones before they are presented at the tribunal. Anything other than that will be resisted,” he said.
When contacted, the Director, Media and Publicity/Spokesperson of the Kogi APC Governorship Campaign Council, Kingsley Fanwo, dismissed the allegations as senseless and called on the authorities to call the SDP candidate, Murtala Ajaka, and his supporters to order.
He said the APC would assess the situation and issue an official statement on it later, noting that “the SDP people know they have no evidence to back their claims. They are playing the victim to cover their shame.”
He, however, said the SDP should allow the Tribunal to sit peacefully and give INEC the breathing space to do their work as required by the law.
Usman Ododo of the APC won the November 11 governorship election with a wide margin, polling 446,237 votes to defeat his closest rival, Murtala Ajaka of the SDP, who got 259,052 votes. Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party polled 46,362 votes.
BELOW IS THE STATEMENT FROM FANWO:
KOGI APC GOVERNORSHIP CAMPAIGN COUNCIL
CONFUSED SDP HARASSING INEC, PLAYING VICTIM – APC CAMPAIGN COUNCIL
. SAYS PARTY HAS NO EVIDENCE TO BACK RIGGING CLAIMS
. ‘ALLEGATIONS AGAINST APC SENSELESS’
1. Today’s failed attack by supporters and thugs of the Social Democratic Party to attack the State INEC Office in Lokoja has confirmed our recent alarm that the party is determined to destroy every relevant government institution just to maintain their false claim to popularity.
2. The attempted plan to lynch INEC staff and burn down the INEC Office was gallantly averted by security agents. Their promptness and professionalism is highly commended as their timely intervention saved what would have been a bloody day as weapon-wielding thugs of the SDP were dangerously threatening to make the state ungovernable.
3. The laughable story of the SDP that the thugs were hired by our party is no deviation from their culture of terrible and senseless propaganda and strategy to blame everyone else for their own actions. It is high time the thoroughly defeated candidate of the SDP and his co-travellers to an unknown destination are arrested to forestall further breakdown of law and order.
4. We call on APC supporters to remain law abiding in the face of glaring provocation. War is about using one’s best to the worst to oneself. The Governor-Elect will be sworn in on January 27, 2024 to advance the frontiers of development in our dear state.
5. As earlier stated, we wish to reiterate our readiness for any legal challenge as we know we won an election adjudged as the freest and fairest in the history of our dear state.
*Kingsley Femi Fanwo,
Spokesperson/Director of Media and Publicity.