In the Run-up to Election Day: Surge in Killings and Attacks Recorded in Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa

Busy Bee
Busy Bee November 9, 2023
Updated 2023/11/09 at 10:46 AM

In the lead-up to the gubernatorial election scheduled for Saturday, separate attacks in Kogi and Bayelsa states have resulted in the tragic death of at least three individuals and injuries to several others. Imo State has also witnessed alleged attacks on the opposition amid its own election proceedings.

While Kogi’s incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello, seeks to install his preferred candidate for a second term, Imo’s Hope Uzodinma (APC) and Bayelsa’s Douye Diri (PDP) are both vying for re-election. Despite heightened security measures, concerns persist regarding insecurity and election-related violence in these three states. The United Kingdom has issued a travel advisory urging its citizens to avoid these states during the off-circle governorship elections.

In Kogi State, an attack occurred in Anyigba, Dekina LGA, at the residence of the Director General of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) campaign organization, Sheikh Ibrahim Jibrin. The police contend that the incident was a raid prompted by intelligence suggesting the housing of political thugs with dangerous weapons.

The attack unfolded around 5:30 am on Tuesday when alleged gunmen, after removing the house gate with their truck, reportedly opened fire. The crossfire between the SDP chieftain’s security details and the invading forces resulted in casualties, with Inspector Samson Atabo confirmed dead.

While Sheikh Ibrahim Jibrin survived the attack, the Director of Communication and Strategy of the campaign organization, Isaiah Davies Ijele, was reportedly taken away by the assailants. Jibrin is said to be recovering in an undisclosed hospital.

Confirming the incident, the running mate to the SDP governorship candidate, Samuel Abenemi, appealed to the police for impartiality and fair play in addressing the situation. The official police statement, delivered by SP William Aya, described the operation as a joint effort involving the Nigeria Police, Department of State Security, and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, targeting locations where political thugs affiliated with political parties were allegedly housed.

“During the operation to search and secure the area, the team faced intense gunfire despite clearly identifying themselves. In response, three political thugs were neutralized, and two AK47 rifles were seized. Two team members sustained gunshot injuries, and seven suspects were apprehended,” stated the Commissioner of Police, Onuoha Benthrand. He emphasized the police’s mandate to raid suspected houses harboring thugs, asserting that civilians with AK-47 rifles would be thoroughly investigated.

In contrast, the governorship candidate of the SDP in Kogi State, Muritala Yakubu Ajakas, alleged that the attack was orchestrated by suspected thugs and police, constituting an assassination attempt against him. He claimed that those killed were policemen and campaign staff, not thugs. Ajakas accused the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Berthrand Unuoha, the Kogi DSS Director, Mr. Tosin Ajayi, and the NNS Officer Commanding, Lugard Ajulu, of assembling a rogue force for the attack.

Urging the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, to redeploy Unuoha and seeking President Bola Tinubu’s intervention in addressing other complicit security officials, Ajakas emphasized the need for a secure Saturday election.

In a related incident, tension gripped Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, as suspected thugs targeted the residence of PDP chieftain Chief Diekivie Ikiogha with dynamites. The attack, near former President Goodluck Jonathan’s residence in the Kpansia area, caused a loud explosion in the early hours of Tuesday.”

Ikiogha, a former Commissioner for Agriculture and Chief of Staff at the Government House, Yenagoa, remains unreachable for comments. He recently rejoined the PDP after defecting to the APC years ago.

In the lead-up to the Bayelsa State governorship polls, Ikiogha switched from the APC to the Labour Party. Despite contesting the primary election and losing to the LP governorship candidate, Udengs Eradiri, he has now faced an attack.

While details of the incident are unclear, Bayelsa State Police Spokesman CSP Asinim Butswat reported that the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit (EOD) has been dispatched to the scene.

Additionally, two unidentified individuals reportedly sustained gunshot wounds in an attack by unknown thugs in the Opolo axis of the state capital.

Tensions have been rising ahead of the governorship election, with political parties engaging in violent clashes. Last weekend, PDP supporters were attacked in Nembe Local Government, resulting in one fatality and several injuries.

Inspector-General of Police Kayode Egbetokun announced a restriction on vehicular movement in Imo, Kogi, and Bayelsa states from 12:01 am to 6 pm on Saturday. Movement via waterways is also prohibited during this period.

Egbetokun emphasized the need for free, fair, and credible elections, especially in Bayelsa, where 80% of the landmass is covered by water bodies. The police chief revealed the deployment of marine and gunboats, helicopters for aerial patrol, and additional security equipment, including 220 operational vehicles.

To ensure proper supervision, three Deputy Inspectors-General of Police (DIGs) have been deployed to each state, including Frank Mba, in charge of the Department of Training and Development, Habu Sani, in charge of the Department of Force Intelligence, and the DIG in charge of the Department of Information and Communication Technology.

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