Police arrested suspected political thugs on Tuesday in Kogi East senatorial district.
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State, Usman Ododo, has cried out over the arrest of members of his campaign organisation by security agencies on Tuesday.
Mr Ododo told journalists in Lokoja that those arrested on Tuesday in Kogi East senatorial district were “noble” people who had no hand in thuggery.
He called on the security agencies to release the party members who were arrested in Kogi East senatorial district on Tuesday when they raided some areas where suspected political thugs were lodged.
“My members have been arrested, some of my leaders, even in my community, this morning, they have picked not less than seven of my members,” he added.
“I allowed them to do their work. I will not interfere with their investigation. I believe by the time they are done with their investigation and none of them is found guilty, they will be released.
“I have advised my followers not to engage in any criminality because I don’t condone it.
“My members that they have picked, it is still based on allegations. Let them do their investigations and I believe they will do that without bias. As soon as they are done, they will be released.
“But in a situation where security agents are harassing and detaining my members without saying what offence they have committed, I want to call on them to release them and face those criminals that went to Kotonkarfe to kill an APC supporter and get them arrested.
“That is what they should focus on and not the law abiding members of our party. So I call on them to hasten their investigations and release our members with immediate effect.”
On allegations of witch-hunt by the opposition, Mr Ododo said, “If you see somebody jumping from one TV station to the other desperately every day, leaving where he is supposed to be doing groundwork and courting voters, you should know that if nothing is chasing him, then he is chasing something. They know they don’t have a chance. They are just engaging in fruitless propaganda.
“As for us in the APC, we know we are winning. Governor Yahaya Bello has done the people proud and it is time to reward the party. The reward of hard work is more work and we are ready to serve again. We won’t join issues with losers who have only ethnic agenda and violence in their dictionary. The APC government has served all the zones equitably and there are ample results to show for it. We are coming to serve them even better.”
Mr Ododo urged his supporters to come out en masse on Saturday to vote for the APC, saying a vote for APC is a vote for unity, peace and progress of the state.
We arrested political thugs – Police
Police spokesperson in the state, William Aya, said in a statement that the raid was based on an intelligence report on hideouts of political thugs planning to disrupt the election.
Mr Aya said during a gun duel with the “thugs,” security agents killed some of them, arrested several others and recovered two AK47 rifles.
Mr Aya’s statement came against the backdrop of an accusation by the Social Democratic Party that security agents, acting under the instruction of the APC-led state government, had attacked the residence of its campaign director general in Anyigba in Kogi East senatorial zone.
The spokesperson of the SDP campaign organisation, Faruk Adejoh-Audu, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview that the state government was unleashing thugs and security agents on the SDP members ahead of Saturday’s election.
“Our party secretariat in Lokoja has been burnt down three times, two of which were done in broad daylight and nobody is held accountable for it,” Mr Adejoh-Audu said.
“The thugs are armed and clothed with uniforms and are out to kill anyone opposed to the governor and his candidate,” he alleged.
However, Mr Ododo insisted that the APC members arrested are people of impeccable character who had no reason to engage in thuggery.
“Just this morning again, about seven of my members were picked from my community. I don’t breed thugs because I don’t condone criminality. The security agencies should carry out their investigations and release our people with immediate effect,” Mr Ododo said.
The ruling party candidate said those afraid of losing the election were the ones stoking violence and levelling baseless allegations.
He called on the security agencies to be fair to all and ensure the security of lives and property before, during and after the election.