- We can’t be intimidated, says Adeniran
From Ahmad Ibrahim Lokoja and Lateef Ibrahim Abuja
Anxiety has begun to mount ahead of Saturday governorship election in Kogi State.
This is as some suspected hoodlums yesterday invaded the state secretariat of the Social Democratic Party and razed it down.
Our reporter reliably gathered that the incident occurred in Lokoja, at the early hours of Monday, after the SDP secretariat , which is located along Murtala Mohammed Way in the metropolis, had earlier been vandalized by the thugs.
It was learnt that the windows and doors of the secretariat were shattered while banners, posters and other campaign materials were also destroyed.
Confirming the incident while speaking on phone with our reporter , the state Chairman of the Party, Mouktar Atima accused the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC of “releasing their boys to unleash terror on our party “.
Atima said the development was a confirmation of the several threats received recently by the party’s candidate, Natasha Akpoti.
Atima further pointed out that no amount of harassment and destruction would deter the party and its governorship candidate from contesting and winning the Saturday election, saying they remain undaunted even as he appealed to party faithful not to be discouraged over the recent development.
In his reaction however, the spokesman of the APC Campaign Council, Kingsley Fanwo dispelled the allegation that the hoodlums that burnt down the party’s secretariat were sponsored by the ruling party.
According to him, the party and its candidate are currently busy campaigning round the state and “has no time for irrelevant issues at the moment.”
When contacted, the state Police Commissioner, Hakeem Busari said the police were already aware of the destruction, pointing out that investigation has already commenced to bring the culprits to book.
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of SDP, Professor Tunde Adeniran, has said that his party is poised for victory in the governorship election holding on Saturday in Kogi State.
Prof Adeniran, a former Minister of Education and one-time Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, made the remark while reacting to the report of the burning down of Kogi State SDP secretariat located in Lokoja.
The national chairman of the SDP, in a statement yesterday, made it abundantly clear that intimidation from anywhere cannot thwart the triumph of the SDP candidate, Barrister Natasha Akpoti, who was recently cleared by the court, after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) attempted to disqualify her from participating in the guber race.
According to him, some persons who feel threatened by the popularity of Barrister Akpoti and SDP are trying to intimidate the party out of the race to pave way for them to continue to lord it over the citizens of the state.
His words, “No matter what they do, we are set to win the Kogi governorship election. We are the preferred party. Our candidate is the preferred candidate in the state.
“We have a good material. Our candidate is very popular and the party is very popular. SDP is the right alternative party to correct the current maladministration in the state.
“No amount of intimidation can stop our party’s victory,” he said.
Continuing, he said, “It is very sad. It is a tragic development that all Nigerians should condemn. The Nigeria police and all law enforcement agencies must rise up to apprehend the culprits and ensure such does not happen again.
“The SDP stands for peace and justice and would like all stakeholders to work toward peaceful, free and fair elections.
“I think it is sad that we have people in the political terrain who have chosen to behave like barbarians. I believe that we should elevate the politics in the land higher than the level of thuggery that we are witnessing.
“Our secretariat was attacked yesterday and at night some agents, some thugs of a political party came there to burn it down. It has been reported to the police. And then we are monitoring to really appraise the total damage. “Some steps will be taken to make sure that the law enforcement agencies rise up to their responsibility. Because when we leave the country to the rule of the jungle and we leave politics to the rule of the jungle, it means that gangsters and criminals will take over the ruler-ship of this country and we will be in deep, deep, deep trouble.
“We have had more than enough crises in the past and this is the time for the nation to rise above that particular level,” Adeniran further averred.
The SDP national chairman added that, “It (the ugly incident) should give every Nigerian cause to worry that this is not the way democracy should be practiced. There should be freedom of choice.
“If a government is not popular, they should accept it. To want to impose yourself on the people through violence and all kinds of thuggery; I don’t think it is acceptable to the Nigerian people. “And as far as my party is concerned, we stand for fair, free and peaceful election. We are not for violence. And we condemn violence of all forms.
“We believe that the law enforcement agencies will rise up to the challenge and not to allow the state to be taken over by hoodlums, thugs and criminals”, he said.