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Kogi elections: Stakeholders pass ‘vote of no confidence’ on Police, others

Some stakeholders in Kogi state have passed a ‘vote of no confidence’ on the police and other security agencies over their alleged complicity in the…

Some stakeholders in Kogi state have passed a ‘vote of no confidence’ on the police and other security agencies over their alleged complicity in the irregularities and violence that trailed the November 16 governorship and senatorial rerun elections in the state.

The stakeholders drawn from various political parties, religious bodies, civil society organizations and vulnerable groups made their positions known on Tuesday at a meeting organised by the INEC in Lokoja ahead of Saturday’s supplementary election for Kogi West as well as rerun election in Ajaokuta Federal Constituency.

Representative of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Samuel Owolabi, who described the last election in Kogi as a “civil war”, pointed out that the police and other security agents stood by and did nothing while political thugs unleashed violence at innocent voters who turned out to exercise their franchise.

He said despite the over 35,000 policemen and other security agents said to have been deployed in the last election, ‘unimaginable’ violence were still perpetrated, saying the people have lost confidence in the security architecture given what transpired in the state.

“As a Pastor, I can’t tell my members to come out and vote again when nobody is sure their security will be guaranteed. Innocent voters who came out to vote were shot from a police helicopter. No arrest has been made since the last election. If we go this way, we are in trouble in this state”, he said.

Also speaking in similar vein, the Secretary, Jamaatul Nasril Islam (JNI) in the state, Alhaji Isah Ajiboye, said INEC put necessary preparations in place prior to the election, adding that it was sad that the security agencies did not provide the needed atmosphere for peaceful conduct of the election.

He urged the security agencies, politicians, INEC and other stakeholders in the electoral process to always act with the fear of God, noting that they would one day appear before God to give account of all their deeds.

In his remarks, a leader of a civil society group, Nathaniel Abanida, alleged complicity on the part of INEC for its failure to cancel elections in polling units marred by widespread violence and snatching of ballot boxes in Ward A of Lokoja particularly polling units in Crowther Memorial College, St Luke School, Muslim Community School, Lokoja Club, St Mary Church and host of others.

He said he was taken aback to observe that those polling units were not captured by the electoral umpire amongst those where supplementary election is to be held on Saturday.

Speaking earlier, the INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (INEC) in Kogi, Prof James Apam, told the stakeholders that supplementary election would hold in 53 polling units across seven local government areas in Kogi West senatorial district while a rerun would hold in 22 polling units across Ajaokuta Federal Constituency on November 30 simultaneously.

On the issue of violence during the last election, Apam said the electoral umpire was handicapped and that the issue of security was beyond the powers of INEC.

The REC said that the commission, prior to the last election, made all necessary preparations, held series of meetings with various groups and sensitise the political actors on the need for peaceful elections but things still turned out the way they did.

He urged the people not to lose confidence in the electoral process, assuring that the Commission would do its best to live above board in its duties.

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