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Gunmen disrupt primary election, PDP, Bello trade blame

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Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

One person was feared killed as violence marred the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary election in Kogi State yesterday.

The event became enmeshed in violence when, at the point of votes sorting and counting, some gunmen invaded the Confluence Stadium, Lokoja, venue of the primary election in the early hours of yesterday, shooting sporadically in every direction.

One Abdullahi Loko Ibrahim from Kotonkarfi Local Government Area of the state was allegedly hit by bullets, which killed him instantly.

The State PDP Publicity Secretary, Prince Bode Ogunmola, who confirmed the incident, said that the deceased had been buried in Kotonkarfi according to Islamic rites.

Ogunmola could not confirm if the deceased Ibrahim was one of the delegates who participated in the primaries or just a member of the party.

The incident pitted the PDP against Governor Yahaya Bello and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) who were accused of masterminding the disruption of the election.

In a statement issued yesterday by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan, in Lokoja, the party said the resort to violence and bloodletting could not save the failed governor and his party, the APC.

According to Ologbondiyan, the PDP and the people of Kogi State are firm in their resolve to use every means available in a democracy to confront and vanquish APC’s alleged evil plots ahead of the November governorship election.

“It is clear to all that Governor Bello has become chaotic in the face of his rejection by the people as well as the soaring popularity of the PDP in Kogi State, and has now resorted to violence in a failed desperate attempt to prevent our party from presenting a candidate for the election.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP had a peaceful, decent, clean, clear, credible and transparent process in the conduct of our primary. Accredited delegates had voted and the balloting had been concluded in a very orderly manner before the vicious attack by the gunmen, who were shouting pro-Bello mantra and accompanied by known APC faces.

“The PDP only has pity for Bello and the APC because our processes are still intact and nothing can sway our resolve as well as strong will by the people of Kogi to kick them out of office in November.

“This is more so as the attack has further united our governorship aspirants, critical stakeholders, leaders and teeming members and supporters across the state for a common front against Bello and the APC,” the statement read in part.

“Indeed, nothing can detract from this, as the attack has further united and bolstered the people of Kogi State to remain behind our party in the decisive struggle and the noble objective to liberate their state from the violent and suppressive forces.”

But in a swift reaction, Governor Bello urged the PDP to face its internal problems instead of looking elsewhere.

In a statement, the Director-General, Media and Publicity to the governor, Kingsley Fanwo, said: “The APC had a seamless primary without violence. PDP should face their internal chaos instead of blaming their woes on the governor. This is the lowest PDP can condescend, blaming the wanton bloodletting at their own primary on someone who had no interest whatsoever in their party affairs.

“Security agencies are already investigating the violence and will tell the public their findings. As a responsible government, we would not want to issue statements or engage in activities that could jeopardise the investigations.”

However, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State, who doubled as the chairman of the PDP Electoral Committee, commended Bello and the security agencies for their support towards the conduct of the primary election in Kogi.

Fintiri gave the commendation when Bello led heads of security agencies in the state on a courtesy visit to him in a hotel in Lokoja over the shooting. He said he had enjoyed tremendous support from his counterpart and the security agencies since he and his team arrived in Kogi State.

Bello, who condemned the incident, said it did not reflect the character of the people of Kogi State. He urged the opposition party to put itself together to complete the exercise as he directed the security agencies, after an extensive meeting with them, to fish out the perpetrators of the violence.

When contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP William Aya, said nobody was killed. He said an investigation had commenced into the matter, assuring that the perpetrators would be arrested and prosecuted.

In the end, Musa Wada was declared the winner of the PDP governorship primary, beating 12 other aspirants. He scored a total of 748 votes to beat his closest rival, Alhaji Abubakar Idris, who pulled a total of 710 votes.

Wada defeated his elder brother and former governor, Capt. Idris Wada, who scored 345 votes to come third, while Senator Dino Melaye came fourth with 70 votes.

Also yesterday in Kogi State, the Young Democratic Party (YDP) elected Samari Muhammed Zakari as its governorship candidate in its primary election held in Lokoja

The delegates, who were drawn from the three senatorial districts, had adopted a consensus model using voice votes which favoured Zakari who was returned as the winner having survived the party screening.

In Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, emerged winner of the PDP primary ahead of the gubernatorial election fixed for November 16.

Diri, the senator representing Bayelsa Central District, pulled 561 votes to win the primary held on Tuesday night at the Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre, Yenagoa and contested by 21 aspirants.

Declaring the result, Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State, who is the chairman of the party’s electoral committee for the state, said Diri’s closest rival, Timi Alaibe scored 365 votes, while Keniebi Okoko scored 142.

Besides, a businessman, David Lyon, emerged as the governorship candidate of the APC with a total of 42,138 votes, while his closet rival, Mrs. Diseye Nsirim, scored 1,533 votes.

Meanwhile, Alaibe has faulted the process that produced Diri as the winner and called on his supporters to remain calm.

Alaibe, a former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), in a statement yesterday titled “We Must Move On”, outlined the reasons he joined the race but maintained that “even with all the inarguable inherent flaws bordering on crass disrespect for legal procedures and party guidelines, a winner has been declared. The delegates—whether coercively or voluntarily—have spoken even if their voices do not represent the voice of the people.”


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