PDP Youths Decry Clampdown on Opposition in Kogi, Demand Release of Political Detainees

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The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Youth Frontier has condemned the collaboration between Kogi state government and security agencies against members of the opposition, particularly protégés of the late Senator Saliu Ohize, who are believed to belong to political groups and political parties other than the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In a statement signed and issued in Okene on Friday by its national coordinator, Usman Okai Austin, the youths had alleged that the Department of State Security (DSS) in Kogi, acting on the orders of the state governor, Yahaya Bello, was using its might to clampdown and illegally detain opposition figures in the state.

He said that no fewer than five opposition figures including a former vice-chairman of Okene Local government, Usman Okorongo, have been detained for questioning some ‘anti-people’ policies of governor Bello’s administration.

Okai also noted that the suppression of the opposition in Kogi state through the implementation of Kogi Whistle-Blowing law was becoming unbearable and assuming a clannish look since majority of those in illegal detention belonged to the Omoyee clan in Okene. He gave the names of the leading voices under illegal detention as: Usman Okorongo, Comrade Abdulmujeeb Salawu, Lukman Raji, Kekere Idoma, and Yaqub Muhammed.

The PDP youths called for the immediate release from the DSS custody of all political detainees warning security agents not to serve as willing tools in the hands of the state government utilized for stifling democratic progress in the state.

The statement reads in part: “We call on Kogi governor, Yahaya Bello to stop forthwith the indiscriminate arrest and detention of people opposed to his style of administration in Kogi central senatorial district as the moves will not blow him any good wind.

“The indiscriminate clamping down on political proteges of late Senator Saliu Ohizes in the name of implementing the Whistle-Blowing Law of the state is assuming a look of political vendetta against social commentators who criticize the ‘anti-people’ policies of the present administration.

“We warn that this train of illegal detention; if left uncurbed will create more rivalry between clans in Kogi, needlessly overheat the polity, and stifle democratic progress in the state.

“We demand the immediate release, from the DSS custody, prisoners of conscience in Kogi state who commented on the ‘draconian’ policies of the state government out of public concern.”

Similarly, the APC chairman in the state, Haddy Amoto, has lamented the subversion of the Whistle-Blowing policy by the Kogi governor for silencing dissenting voices.

In his own statement signed and issued on Friday, the ruling party chairman in the state said: “The executives of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Kogi state chapter under my leadership as the chairman have watched with disdain, the activities of the accidental and totalitarian governor of Kogi state, Alh. Yahaya Bello.

“I am deeply saddened that he is bringing untold hardship and pains on the people of the state through his many anti-people policies.

“When the indefatigable leader of our party, His Excellency, President Mohammadu Buhari introduced the whistle blowing policy, it was geared towards assisting the government to get valuable information on the recovery of looted funds and assets belonging to the government. It is disheartening to hear that the Yahaya Bello led government is making mockery of the lofty idea in Kogi state by rewarding those giving information about the critics of his government under the disguise of whistleblower with the sum of five hundred thousand naira (N500,00) of taxpayers money.

“This is certainly far from what whistle blowing concept is all about. The government of the day in Kogi state is oppressing and intimidating people who worked tirelessly for the victory of APC which he is enjoying today.

“Recently, some elders from Kogi central were said to have been detained by Bello in government house for airing their views about the maladministration in the state. One of the victims, a former vice chairman of Okene Local government, Hon Usman Okorongo has been under detention in government house for some days now. I want to let the world know that Hon. Usman have some health challenges and we will hold Yahaya Bello responsible should anything happen to him. I keep wondering if the government house is now a police station where unjustified arrests are made and people will be arbitrarily detained.

“We want to draw the attention of the Inspector General of Police and National Human Right Commission to this gross abuse of human right currently on going in Kogi state.

“The security situation in the state which is at the lowest ebb ever, this is giving me a lot of concern and sleepless night. Unfortunately, a government that should be responsible for the protection of the lives and properties of her citizens is building a tall wall and gate around government house and environs and leaving the people of the state at the mercy of armed robbers and kidnappers. That is the height of insensitivity and irresponsibility on the part of government.

“People are been kidnapped, killed and dispossessed of their belongings every day. Many civil servants who are lucky enough to receive one or two months’ salary since the inception of this government have lost their money to armed robbers. I am still wondering why the state government decided to forcefully open account for civil servants in a bank that have just one branch in the state. People will have to travel 5 hours before they can access their salary, a situation most of the workers described as frustrating.”

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