Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
Sen. Ahmed Ogembe (PDP-Kogi Central), on Tuesday, called on the Federal Government to wade in and address the incessant harassment and intimidation of members of the opposition party in Kogi State.
Ogembe made the call while speaking with newsmen in Lokoja, the state capital.
He described the situation as ‘dangerous’, saying that it would only create anarchy in the state if not checked.
The senator, who was reacting to the destruction of over N200 million materials including cars, motorcycles, sewing machines and other materials for empowerment of his constituents, said the intimidation and harassment of opposition party members by the state government was becoming ‘very unbearable.’
Ogembe, who had his multi-million Naira empowerment programme at Ageva on Okene-Ogori-Magongo road disrupted, on Saturday, by political thugs said the intimidation and harassment of opposition party members in the state was becoming “very unbearable.”
He said that before the commencement of the empowerment programme at Ageva on Okene-Ogori-Magongo road disrupted, he had applied and got approval from the Inspector General of police (IGP) to provide security and also notified the Commissioner of Police in the state.
Said he, “We also sent letters to the Commissioner, the area Commander and the DPO and we have the acknowledgements. We discussed on phone and they assured us they will provide enough security.
“The DPO did his best but the Area Commander messed up the first empowerment program, I was talking to him almost on a daily bases about three times.
“But after putting up the rostrum they came in the night before the programme and burnt the vehicle we used in conveying the rostrum to the venue around 1:40am.”
The senator also said that the matter was reported to the police and the Area Commander that there was tension in the place, “Only for the Local Government Administrator to come later to say the senator did not seek the governor’s permission and neither was he consulted before holding the programme.”
The senator said it took the intervention of the military to quell the hostilities between the people and the thugs, but that most of the materials meant for the people were stolen by the armed thugs.
“I only brought empowerment to my people to make sure I share the materials so that everybody can leave with their own items and they came to disorganise the programme and they started stealing and vandalising the materials”, he said.
Ogembe wondered what would happen by the time the ban on political activities were lifted, saying “Are they saying we must go and get permission from the Governor before we can hold rally? It has never happened.”
The senator alleged that the state government was conniving with the police and thugs to intimidate opposition and called on the Federal Government to stop the dangerous trend.
“After any programme, they will go to PDP members houses and start stoning and harassing them. That is what the administrators of Adavi and Okehi are doing basically now. The governor should know the extent of his powers.”
Reacting to the allegations, Jibril Abu, APC state Publicity Secretary, said it must be recalled that sometime in March, this year, similar thing happened and the state government did not only condemn the act, but sent delegates to appease and pacify the aggrieved and Sen. Ogembe over the unfortunate incident.
“One will, however, question the sanity of anybody that will link such kind of act to Governor Yahaya Bello.
“Sen. Ogembe was given a red flag by the security operatives when the information got to them that he was coming to Okene to conduct empowerment programme.
“However, Sen. Ogembe decided to trust his thugs and act against a clear warning from the appropriate authority. One is shocked that a lawmaker would go out of his way to promote and encourage lawlessness in his constituency.
“From the insider report, PDP thugs loyal to Sen. Ogembe manipulated the volatile security situation to cause mayhem in order to attract public sympathy to their principal”, he said.
However, in a swift reaction, the state government, through the media to the governor, Kingsley Fanwo, said the allegation was” baseless and has no iota of truth.”