Political thugs, on Friday, opened fire on supporters of the Kogi state governorship candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Alhaji Murtala Ajaka in Koton Karfe.
The rally was already underway when thugs with sophisticated assault rifles arrived and started shooting sporadically.
Party supporters scampered in different directions while the thugs descended on the podium, canopies, chairs and public address systems arranged for the rally.
Ajaka, who arrived at the venue about two hours later, praised supporters and party faithfuls who returned to the venue despite the attack.
He condemned “Governor Yahaya Bello’s appetite for violence” and urged the supporters not to be intimidated.
“This is to tell you the kind of people that have been ruling us and are desperate to continue to force themselves on us.
“They have nothing else to offer except sorrow, tears, and blood. They don’t pay salaries. They have collected over 600 billion in eight years, yet they have no infrastructure to show. Instead, EFCC is arraigning them and confiscating their properties bought with our stolen money.
“Even armed bandits in the jungle can’t be worse than these people. But I assure you they are desperate because they know we the people are resolved to chase them away this time for Good. This is the last kick of a dying wild lion,” Ajaka told supporters.
Reacting to the incident, the Murtala Yakubu Ajaka Gubernatorial Campaign Organization said it has formally reported the attack to the Kogi office of DSS and the State Police Command.
The campaign organization, in a statement signed by its spokesman, Faruk Adejoh-Audu, said there was a second attack while Ajaka was on his way from the rally to the town’s Central Mosque for his Jumat prayers.
Adejoh-Audu said the second attack was repeled by security operatives attached to Ajaka.
He said there were no immediate fatalities, but several people sustained gunshot wounds.
“Indications that there will be trouble emerged earlier in the day when the Ajaka Campaign got reports that the Kogi State Director of DSS, Mr Tosin Ajayi and the Commissioner of Police, Mr Onuoha Bethrand spent several hours last night pleading with Mr Bello not to suddenly stage a one million man March in Koton-Karfi Town today Friday to clash with the SDP Rally.
“Our intelligence indicates that the state security chiefs were able to persuade a reluctant Yahaya Bello that since Ajaka had already written to the security agencies of the event weeks earlier, the Governor will be blamed if violence erupted between his supporters and those of Ajaka.
“The attacks by thugs under the control of his commissioner from the LGA, one Bashir Gegu himself a dreaded thug before his appointment into Bello’s cabinet it is believed was Bello’s alternative plan to cause mayhem and intimidate the SDP candidate as he did on June 3,.2023, when he personally led his convoy to attack Ajaka in Lokoja.
“Since then, several SDP supporters have been killed, and many more maimed while properties, including the State Headquarters of the SDP and three LGA Offices, were burnt down by identified Bello’s thugs,” he said.
The campaign organization called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Inspector General of Police, the Director General of DSS and National Security Adviser (NSA) to step into the raging cases of political violence in Kogi state to avoid genocide.
However, a group, Koton Karfe Peace alleged that a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was killed by thugs loyal to SDP in Koton Karfe.
According to the coordinator of the group, Iliyasu Jatto, the lady, whose name is still unknown, was in an APC program when the SDP thugs allegedly shot her.
“Today’s action is glaring. The SDP and supporters of Alhaji Murtala Yakubu Ajaka attacked the APC procession.
“Until we begin to go after the aggressors and those causing violence, we may be chasing shadows.
“I call on the security agencies to fish out those who came out dressed in the SDP uniform to cause today’s attack.
“Is this how they want to come and govern the State? We expected them to come with superior campaign promises, but this is not the case,” he stated.
Iliyasu called on the security agencies to beam their searchlight in the direction of the SDP Candidate and his supporters, insisting that “they masterminded today’s attack.”