The members of the Kogi state caucus in the National Assembly have petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, over insecurity in the state, accusing the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, of backing hoodlums and suspected political thugs who have been causing mayhem and attacking opposition.
The petition dated July 30, 2018, and addressed to the president was jointly signed senators Dino Melaye, Ahmed Ogembe and Atai Aidoko and five House of Representatives including Tajudeen Yusuf, Benjamin Ikani Okolo, Karimi Sunday, Emmanuel Egwu and Omale Hassan.
According to the petition, the lawmakers alleged that the state governor had been using the state resources to import military hardware illegally for the hoodlums who carry out his instructions.
They noted that the petition was borne out of the fact that persons holding contrary or alternatives political views with the governor could no longer move freely within the state, neither could they hold political meetings or conduct political activities like town hall meetings, constituency empowerment programmes without violent interruptions by the state government and it’s agents.
The petition reads in part, “The state governor now uses the state security apparatus at his disposal and hoodlums to disrupt political events and activities of the opposition party.
“This is unacceptable and anti-democratic. Little wonder the state government was involved in the importation of Military Hardware and Army camouflage a few months ago, a matter that is being investigated by the National Assembly, although without much cooperation by the Nigerian Customs Service allegedly due to the powerful influence of the state governor”.
The petitioners also said almost three years into the Bello administration, he has refused to conduct local government election as required by the Constitution and has been administering the Local Government.
“Mr President, we cannot continue to fold our arms while the governor of our state-sponsored armed Militia to silence the voice of the opposition in the state. It is undemocratic and it may lead to large-scale anarchy. We, therefore, urge that you intervene immediately.
“It is imperative to note that Section 14(2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended provides that the Security and Welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government.
“We cannot be striving in our little way to improve the welfare of the people of Kogi State, while the governor in a bid to frustrate us and out of sheer ambition, would unleash terror and violence on us and our Constituent in the name of party politics.
“The President and the International Community cannot continue to turn a blind eye at the happenings in Kogi State because if it is allowed to continue, it may further worsen the security situation in Nigeria.
However, reacting to the allegations, the governor, who spoke through his director general, media and publicity, Kingsley Fanwo, said the legislators were only engaging in bitter opposition.
He explained that Bello had been adjudged as the best governor in tackling insecurity in Nigeria, saying it, therefore, amounted to hypocrisy for the lawmakers to accuse him of sponsoring violence in the state.
Fanwo said, “For a group of legislators in the National Assembly to allege the same Governor is arming thugs reflects the fact that they are either blinded by bitter partisanship or they do not know what they are saying.
“In Kogi State, thuggery has been blacklisted by the present administration. The previous administrations in the state have a history of arming and prodding thugs to unleash violence on political opponents. Political assassinations were on the rise and opponents of the government were living in fear until the present administration came on board to guarantee security for all Kogites irrespective of their political beliefs.
“We urge the legislators to desist from overheating the politics of the state with their penchant for destructive propaganda. Anyone who has problems with his constituents should go and resolve them amicably as the State Government will henceforth not tolerate politically schemed violence.”