The Social Democratic Party (SDP) governorship candidate in Kogi State, Murtala Ajaka, and his camp have once again pointed fingers at Governor Yahaya Bello, accusing him of masterminding the recent attack on their convoy in Lokoja.
During an appearance on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ on Monday night, Faruk Adejoh-Audu, the spokesperson for the SDP, made this claim.
Governor Bello, in a statement released by his Commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo, alleged that his convoy was obstructed and assaulted by gunmen believed to be supporters of Ajaka, near the naval base just a few kilometers away from Lokoja. According to the governor, the armed thugs began shooting indiscriminately as soon as they spotted him.
However, Adejoh-Audu refuted these allegations, asserting that they did not accurately represent the events that unfolded.
“It was an orchestrated attack. The incident happened around 12.40 pm. We didn’t block the road. The truth of the matter was that things happened very quickly. And as the time we discovered what was going on, the road has been blocked while some gunmen opened fire on the car of our candidate (SDP), Alhaji Murtala Ajaka.
“At a point, two outriders on power bikes came past. I wasn’t in the car of the candidate but in another car. Those of us who were behind were hearing the sirens but it wasn’t like a convoy per se. The candidate was on his way from Abuja and only stop to pay homage to a first-class traditional ruler, the Attah Igala in Idah.
“Now after we left, a lot of people most of who we didn’t know including motorbike riders followed the convoy. Some other people on the bridge turned and followed us. At a point, the convoy got extended even beyond our own control. Before we got to Lokoja, there was a place called ‘the banda’ (sic). That is where you have the naval base.
“The car (Ajaka) also stopped to greet some people. One of them is a commissioner in Yahaya Bello’s government. His name is Bashir Gegu. You remembered I told you he just left the APC?
“Gebu was in a pick-up (hilux) and another pick-up came and crossed the road. The next thing we heard was gunshots. They started shooting. There was panic everywhere. Some people even jumped out of their cars. But the obvious target was the car of our principal.
“The only thing that saved him was that the car was an armoured car. The bullets that rained on the car didn’t penetrate. But not every other person was as lucky as he was. It was an orchestrated attack. A senior advocate of Nigeria, Shuaibu Aruwa, was affected. His own car was penetrated.”
When asked about potential measures to protect innocent individuals from being caught in the line of fire during the pre-election period, the SDP spokesperson suggested that only President Bola Tinubu has the authority to rein in Governor Bello.
According to the spokesperson, the reason behind the governor’s excessive power is due to the leniency he received from former President Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), who allegedly refrained from intervening in any reported acts of violence in Kogi State.
He said, “It is a very simple thing. We have a new president and new federal government unlike in the last eight years where several people have been killed and nothing ever happened. So that courage and confidence that I can always get away with whatever I do since the president is from my party is there.
“If the new government sends out a strong signal that ‘Look, we are democrats. We’re not going to allow the blood of people (be spilled) in the name of election, I think it will cease.”