Kogi state government, on Thursday, clarified the excavation of some roads in the central senatorial district as a deliberate security measure to cut off traffic on those roads with a view to restricting the use of the roads by criminals who had been breaching the peace of the area with attendant loss of lives and property.
The senatorial candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Kogi Central, Barr. Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, has earlier accused the state government of cutting off access roads around her Ihima hometown in Okehi local government area of the state.
Natasha alleged that Governor Yahaya Bello order the excavation of the roads to obstruct Saturday elections and keep her hostage.
In a viral video posted on her social media timeline, Natasha said “We woke up this morning to the news that Yahaya Bello has instructed the excavation of all access roads to my home town. My hometown is cut off from Obangede community, it is also cut off from Eika. And right now, I am in front of another road which was just excavated, thereby cutting me out of travelling out of my home town.
“What this means is, INEC would not be able to certain communities, especially my hometown. What this also means is if Yahaya Bello and his APC goons decide to attack me and the good people of Kogi Central in Ihima community, it will be impossible for the DPO to get across to this place. That means, I, Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, my fellow candidates and supporters are trapped. We have no way out because Yahaya Bello has dug gullies.
“Ihima-Ege road was dug just 10 minutes before I got here. As a matter of fact, I met the Adavi local government chairman running away the moment we came here. And this has happened on all other roads. So, that means I am trapped in here. And if we do not cover these roads by tomorrow, it will be imposible for INEC to get their materials down to here.
“I am calling on the President and all service chiefs to call Yahaya Bello to order. If he is going to lose, and I know he will lose, he should lose honourably. As a matter of fact, Yahaya Bello you are not on the ballot, so what the hell is your problem? Why are you fighting so hard? Why are you fighting the people. Why are you deploying guns? Why have you sown many fake uniforms and equipped your thugs with machine guns? Why are you want to kill your people? What use is trapping all of us in here?
“Over 50 Naval officers supervised this excavtion. We don’t have water in Okehi, they should be in Lokoja.
“We are going to get excavators to cover them up,” she said.
However, in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications in the State, Kingsley Fanwo, the state government drew the attention of the public to an explosion that rocked the Okehi local government secretariat complex a few days ago, as well as the Okene blast of December 29, 2022, during President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the state.
According to Fanwo, the security agencies ensured no life was lost as a result of the recent explosion, but the state government convened an emergency security council meeting to address the security challenges in the area with a view to devising strategies of averting possible future occurrence, especially as the state witnessed a similar explosion on December 29, 2022 at Okene.
“One of the measures arrived at was to restrict the number of routes to the flashpoints to enable security agents properly mount effective surveillance on the other access roads for the safety of the people, especially as they go to the polls on Saturday February 25, 2023. We thank the State Ministry of Works and Urban Development for their proactive efforts on the road,” he stated.
Fanwo asked if the outburst of Natasha could be taken to mean that she was benefitting from the seeming insecurity in Kogi Central, noting specifically that as an indigene of Okehi local government area, she had not considered it expedient till now to sympathise with the people over the recent explosion.
“To her, their lives do not matter. But she was quick to characteristically blackmail the State Government when measures were taken to protect her people,” he said.
He warned those sponsoring terrorism in the state to desist as security agents had enough evidence to nab masterminds.
“Some of the masterminds of the Okene blast of December 29, 2022 have been arrested and they are giving useful statements to security agents. With the current measures in Okehi Local Government, we are confident that the cowards who attacked the symbol of unity of the Okehi people will not escape from justice,” he disclosed.
The Commissioner said, “Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan should recognise the fact that the administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello will never slaughter security on the slab of politics and will ruthlessly deal with criminal elements and their sponsors whose hearts are not immersed in the culture of peace of the Ebira Nation.
“As a Government, our responsibility is to protect the Kogi people, and sometimes, we have to take drastic and even temporarily discomforting steps to achieve that. INEC and security agents have not complained about accessing every part of Okehi Local Government Area in particular and Kogi Central in general. Why is Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan crying on behalf of INEC when as an institution, INEC has communication structures and platforms?”
The state government called on Kogites to disregard allegations of trying to use local militias to harass voters, saying, “the protagonists of such fiction are elements who want to create panic in the state because of desperation to provoke chaos to cover up for their political feebleness.
“We assure the people of Kogi Central and Kogi State in general to come out enmasse to cast their votes as adequate security arrangements are in place to protect them before, during and after the polls. Those who need to worry are criminals who will never be spared in the state.”