The Kogi state commissioner of Police, Mr Bethrand Onuoha, on Wednesday, warned troublemakers not to create problems for Kogi since the election had come and gone peacefully.
The commissioner made the plea after some suspected party supporters staged a protest at the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday.
“We thank God that the off-cycle governorship election in Kogi has come and gone peacefully, and we don’t expect anyone to cause any problems for us.
“As a security agency, we are imploring the politicians and INEC to follow the legal constitutional process since the issues are being handled by the Election Petition Tribunal.
“I was taken aback when some SDP protesters filed out with various placards, trying to barricade the INEC.
“I had to address them against that and urge them to go away and use the tribunal to address whatever grievances they had so as not to create problems for our peaceful state,” he said.
Some suspected supporters of the SDP in Kogi stormed the state secretariat of INEC in the early morning of Wednesday, protesting against alleged “INEC’s tampering with election materials.”
Security agencies, however, moved in on time to prevent an attack on the INEC office, dispersing the protesters with tear gas and barricading the road leading to the office.
The protest at first started peacefully until some of the protesters started throwing harmful objects and harassing passersby.
The protesters were demanding that the election materials be moved to Abuja.
One of the protesters, who identified himself as Danjuma, told newsmen that they were sure the materials at the INEC office had been compromised by the APC.
“We have it on good authority that the APC and Yahaya Bello have tampered with the election materials.
“The materials they are taking to the tribunal have already been doctored. So we are calling on INEC to take the original material to INEC, or we will make Kogi State ungovernable.
“We are calling on the president and also the National Chairman of INEC to ensure the doctored materials are immediately replaced with the original ones before they are presented at the tribunal. Anything other than that will be resisted,” he said.
Contacted, the Director, Media and Publicity of the Kogi APC Governorship Campaign Council, Mr Kingsley Fanwo, dismissed the allegations as senseless and called on the authorities to call the SDP to order.
He said the APC would assess the situation and issue an official statement on it later, noting that “the SDP people know they have no evidence to back their claims. They are playing the victim to cover their shame.”
Fanwo called on the SDP to allow the Tribunal to sit peacefully and give INEC the breathing space to do their work as required by the law.
In a statement issued by Mr Faruk Adejoh-Audu, Spokesman, Muri-Sam Governorship Campaign Council, the SDP disowned the protesters and branded them as Gov Yahaya Bello’s sponsored thugs.
“Over 500 persons, most of them thugs, have been deployed to the INEC office in Lokoja to attack lawyers and forensic experts of the SDP to prevent them from examining documents and materials emanating from the Kogi Nov. 11 governorship elections.
“The thugs and posters procured for them have also been detailed to attack and sack the office to ensure the materials needed for our party to prosecute its petition at the tribunal are compromised,” Adejoh-Audu alleged.
Nevertheless, when the election petition tribunal resumed sitting on Wednesday, lead counsel to the SDP, Mr John Adele (SAN), told the Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu panel that INEC had started complying with the tribunal’s order for the release of electoral materials for their inspection.
“My Lord, INEC has started complying, but only this morning some protesters barricaded the road to its (commission’s) office, and we don’t know why,” Adele said.
Justice Birnin-Kudu, however, urged the security operatives in the state to rise to the occasion and ensure that INEC was well protected and secured.
On Saturday, the tribunal ordered INEC to provide SDP with certified copies of required election materials to help it challenge the victory of the APC at the Nov. 11 governorship election.
Usman Ododo of the APC had won the election by a wide margin, polling 446,237 votes to defeat his closest rival, Murtala Ajaka of the SDP, who got 259,052 votes. Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party polled 46,362 votes. (NAN) (Vanguard)