• Urges security agencies to bring culprits to book

 

‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja

 

DAILY COURIER – Following series of inciting statements and violent incidences that trail the conduct of Kogi state governorship election, All Progressives Congress, APC has berated the unbecoming conducts of leading opposition candidates in the confluence state.

The national publicity secretary, Felix Morka today at a press conference held at the party’s national secretariat, submitted that while both participating in and boycotting an election are democratic rights, incendiary conducts are not.

DAILY COURIER reports that on November 11, 2023, there were off-season gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states. The All Proggressives Congress (APC) won in Imo and Kogi, and lost Bayelsa as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Morka said: “Despite substantial compliance with electoral laws and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the conduct of the elections, the post-election situation in Kogi has been bedeviled by contrived controversies and orchestrated violence that now threaten the peace and security of the good state of Kogi.

“The opposition parties that contested that election, particularly the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are severely conflicted between accepting or challenging the result of the election.”

He wondered the sudden interest by the candidates of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Dino Melaye who loathed the election so much that he did not vote for himself on election day and Social Democratic Party, SDP, Muritala Ajaka’s initial resort not to challenge the outcome of the poll.

“On his part, the candidate of the PDP, Dino Melaye, has emphatically and publicly declared his decision not to challenge the outcome of the election, according to him, because he has no confidence in the judiciary to fairly adjudicate any dispute he may bring forward. It is worth noting, that Mr. Melaye did not also have the confidence to vote for himself during an election in which he was candidate of a major opposition party. So we must accept that Dino is very equitable in his “lack of confidence”, and, indeed, lacking confidence in himself.

“This lack of confidence in himself also explains his loud but empty call for opposition parties to boycott future elections, in his twisted thinking, so APC may appear to have enacted a one party state. The fact remains that Dino did not go to court because he has absolutely nothing to stand on by way of evidence, other his vituperations in the media space.

“Dino should know that participating in an election is a democratic right. Boycotting an election is also a democratic right. Dino is free to choose his democratic right but we hope he chooses wisely. That he chose not to vote for himself in the Kogi gubernatorial election did not stop the election process from going ahead in accordance with the Constitution. He cannot stop our democratic train from leaving the station or going on course of its journey to consolidation. He cannot hold back participation by the wonderful people of Kogi state by his infantile outbursts and irrational and vain charges against the APC, INEC and our judiciary.

“On his part, the candidate of the SDP, Murtala Ajaka, stated, on national television, that he will not challenge the election, for reasons similar to that advanced by his opposition counterpart, Dino, that has no confidence in the judiciary, especially as INEC will be a potential witness in the case to justify the outcome of the election. In a sudden u-turn, Ajaka, is now reported to have changed his mind and now intends to bring a petition before the Election Petition Tribunal, even though, it appears that he is out time to validly do so. However, we will leave that for determination by the courts.

“This is all against the backdrop of INEC’s declaration of the APC candidate, Ahmed Usman Ododo, who polled 446,237, as winner of the Kogi State election, with Muritala Ajaka of SDP polling 259,052, and Dino Melaye of PDP polling 46,362. Ajaka and Dino rejected the election results, citing alleged irregularities” Morka added.

He adviced them to explore all legal means to challenge the outcome of the election, the path it chose having lost in Bayelsa state to the People’s Democratic Party during the off season polls.

The spokesperson further condemned all resort to violence and unfounded allegations to undermine government institutions such as the Independent National Electoral Commission and the judiciary.

He stressed: “As umpire, INEC is the only body with constitutional authority to determine and treat occurrence of alleged irregularities in the context of the election. And, in exercise of its powers, INEC, reportedly, cancelled election results in several wards, especially in Ogori-mangogo where over-voting was alleged to have occurred. INEC, then proceeded to declare the result of the election, which, for us, reflects the valid will of the Kogi electorate.

“We participated in the Kogi election, our candidate campaigned widely and vigorously to win the hearts and minds of the good Kogi electorate. He built upon the strong record of achievement of Governor Yahaya Bello’s administration and our Party’s progressive manifesto. Rather than carry out comprehensive evaluation of the reasons they were rejected at the polls, these parties have continued to peddle falsehood and promote ethnic and social unrest in the state.”

He condemned the worrying result to reckless statements which may lead to violence and urged security agencies to rise to occasion following repeated violence on Kogi state INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner and some judiciary staff to avert any action which may lead to breakdown of law and order in Kogi.

“We condemn, as dangerous, the incendiary rhetoric of opposition figures in Kogi state who continue to inflame passion and incite strife. Their actions and utterances provide a charged atmosphere for escalation of violence in the state.

“We especially condemn the reported attack against the Secretary of the Election Tribunal, Mike Umar David, on Monday, December 4, 2023, in very spurious circumstances. The SDP clearly has a lot of explaining to do regarding this incident. Their utterances and actions, prior to, and since, that incident, betray suspicious special knowledge of the incident.

“Prior to Monday’s incident involving the Tribunal’s Secretary, the residence of the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Gabriel Hale Longpet, was also attacked on Friday, December 1, 2023 by armed hoodlums.

“These and other acts of violence in Kogi state are barbaric, undemocratic and unacceptable. The people of Kogi State deserve to live in peace and security. These sponsored and senseless acts of violence must stop.

“We note and welcome the statement by the Kogi Police Command of an ongoing investigation of the alleged attack on the Secretary to the Election Tribunal and the Resident Electoral Commissioner. We urge the Police to do so thoroughly and expeditiously, and to bring the perpetrators and their sponsors to justice” Morka concluded.