BY KINGSLEY OMONOBI
ABUJA — Ahead of the governorship election in Kogi State on December 3, a group in the state, Kogi Conscience Forum, has raised alarm over alleged mayhem planned by politicians bent on winning the race by all means, with the acquisition of AK-47 rifles and other dangerous weapons.
In a petition to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, and copied to the Independent National Electoral Commision, INEC, the forum alleged that it had information about the acquisition of 500 pieces of AK-47 assault rifles by a political party (name withheld) in readiness for distribution to thugs to unleash mayhem during the election.
The petition, signed by Joseph Adama and Abdullahi Usman, President and General Secretary respectively, alleged that part of the plot of the political party and its supporters for the December polls was the production of mass units of fake army and police uniforms for use by thugs to deceive unsuspecting electorate that they were genuine security agencies assigned on electoral duties.
The group alleged that “The plan on election day is that these thugs would invade some strategic polling booths earmarked for the operation, with guns, fire sporadically and in the ensuing melee, threaten voters with axes, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons, hold INEC staff and other party agents hostage while snatching ballot papers and boxes, thumb- printing and stuffing the boxes.
“The result of the rigged election will then be forced on INEC staff and other polling and party agents to sign under duress. The crime will be successfully carried out if not nipped in the bud as was witnessed in past elections.”
Recalling that the conduct of the March 2008 re-run elections in the state witnessed similar instances of political thugs dressed in police uniforms, storming a polling unit and snatching ballot boxes while voting was in advance stage, the forum stated that until this day, nothing was heard of the criminal act nor was any culprit ever arrested or punished.
The group said: “Our findings have shown that the level of insecurity that reached its peak in Kogi State in recent past was attributable to circulation of such dangerous weapons like guns, machetes and the likes which were distributed to political thugs by politicians and heartless self styled leaders during previous elections dating back to 2003, 2007, and 2008 during governorship elections.
“Our fear is that not only will the weapons be used to achieve malpractices during the election, in the aftermath of the elections, the distributors of the guns (politicians), may not be able to mop them up as the case in previous elections.
“The result is that motorists plying highways in the state become victims of armed robbers, who terrorize, kill and maim these victims in their dozens, making the state one of the unsafe state in the country today.
“This alert has become necessary so as to enable you use your good office as the IGP, stop these dubious and callous politicians who take pride in spilling human blood in their quest to assume political offices,” the forum said.