By Mary BASSEY, Senior Investigator Correspondent Lagos/
LAGOS– AFRAID that the palpable peace and tranquility currently being enjoyed in Kogi State might soon be punctured by certain politicians and purveyors of ill- will in the state, a group of Nigerians of Kogi extraction based in the United Kingdom UK in the early hours of today, staged a peace protest to the Nigerian High Commission calling on security agencies to identify and grill known sponsors of terrorism in the state.
The group operating under the platform of Kogites Diaspora Coalition in London which thanked the incumbent governor, His Excellency, Yahaya Bello for institutionalizing peace and virility in the state through cutting edge security apparatus however, expressed fears that certain enemies of the state and sponsors of terrorism might want to puncture this enviable strides.
The group noted that with the 2023 general elections by the corner, enemies of the present administration might want to smare its inimitable successes so far recorded in securing life and property in the state and therefore, want the High Commission, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Ishola take their message to President Muhammadu Buhari and by extension, Yahaya Bello and ensure that fifth Columnist in the state and known sponsors of insecurity were decisively death with.
A statement signed by the co-ordinator of the group Ayo Akinuli-Kofar and made available to CrimeWorld magazine online said, “They specifically called on security agencies in Nigeria to call Kogi politicians to order and invite those that had been defending known terrorists in the media and attempting to rubbish the sustained relative peace achieved in Kogi State in the last six years.”
The protesters led by Ayo Akinuli-Kofar himself, said they were at the High Commission to formally send the group’s message to Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, through Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Amb. Sarafa Tunji Ishola.The group said the protest was also to ensure that the High Commissioner “takes their petition seriously and delivers same to President Muhammadu Buhari”, noting that the petition had earlier been delivered to the High Commission last week. The protesters were seen with banners with inscriptions such as “Kogites in Diaspora Say No To Resurgence of Violence in our State” and “Kogi Must Not Return to Dark Days of Daily Blood Letting”, among others.
In their petition which was also signed byAyo Akinuli Kofar, Manchester, UK, the protesters wrote, “Your Excellency, it is with utmost humility and a patriotic sense of duty that we address this urgent petition to your good offices regarding an imminent deterioration of the security situation in our dear Kogi State after a considerably long period of relief.
Although based abroad, we are in constant touch with the ongoings in Nigeria,particularly in Kogi State. Most of us return home to vote during elections as part of our civic responsibilities as we have no other country than Nigeria.
For a long time, Kogi State was battling with violent crimes and criminalities that includedkidnapping, armed robbery, political thuggery and, even, terrorism. But respite came about six years ago with the inception of the current administration in the state. It was in recognition of this that The Association of Nigerians in Diaspora based in the United States of America bestowed its“Icon of Security” award on Governor Yahaya Bello in May 2021. This was also replicated by your administration just a few days ago with a distinguished award for security management presented to the Governor in Abuja.
However, we are seriously concerned that insecurity at its worst form may rear its ugly head again as the 2023 general elections are approaching. Kogi State has been in the news for many good reasons, one of which was widely reported in the dailies a few hours ago. The state was given an award of excellence in Transparency, Debt Sustainability and Revenue Mobilisation.
Regardless of who the Governor is, as we are not politicians, we are happy that Kogi State is gaining grounds on the world map. “However, investigations through families and friends that are on ground in the state have revealed that certain politicians are beginning to recruit criminal elements who are hellbent on ruining the peace beingenjoyed in the state for so long. Of major concern to us are the activities and inflammatory statements of some prominent politicians who seem to trade in instigating violence and bloodshed.
We must at this point express our disappointment that Governor Yahaya Bello is being overly politically correct by not taking a decisive action in collaboration with relevant security agencies to curtail the nefarious activities of these enablers of insecurity perhaps because they are politicians and the government may be wrongly accused of intimidating opponents or prominent figures. But for how long will the lives of Kogi people be played as a political chess game as not to step on toes?
Continuing, the group noted that, “For instance, one of the most brazen among prominent politicians who seem to be instigating violence through unguarded statements in Kogi State today is Mrs Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan. “A recent example is her strong public condemnation of the arrest of a known terrorist called Shafiu Fari Ibrahim. We suppose the security agencies must have carried out diligent investigation on the suspect before effecting his arrest from his hideout.
But for Mrs. Natasha Uduaghan to be going from one media house to the other, with allegations that she has not proved is a recipe for chaos, which must be nipped in the bud immediately. Why has she not been invited? She seems to know so much about this Shafiu even when everyone, including the old in Kogi State have said that a new set of terrorists that may return the state to the bad days are being bred by those who are desperate to clinch power. We do not want to dabble into the way anyone married her husband, who is from Delta State and resides mainly in Kogi State, it is her choice and she has every right to her privacy.
However, after so many years, Kogi State is currently enjoying unity among its main ethnic groups, and we, as bona-fide citizens would not allow outsiders to jeopardise this and more all in the name of politics. Inrecent memory in Nigeria, someone believed to be helping the Federal Government to negotiate with terrorists especially with regard to the Kaduna train terrorist attack that claimed several lives and kidnapping of many Nigerians was later discovered to be a major enabler of the terrorists.
We recall that at a point, Mr Tukur Mamu who was supposed to be mediating between the terrorists and the Federal Government became a vociferous critic of the government and blaming it for the so-called lull in the negotiation with the terrorists.He went to the extent of asking Nigerians to hold the Federal Government accountable for any loss of lives of the hostages in the terrorists’ custody. Eventually Mr Mamu was discovered to be hand-in-gloves with the terrorists and making billions of Naira out of the pains and sorrows of his compatriots and also holding his country to ransom.
An African adage is trite here that says; “The person who fights the community for punishing a thief cannot have a clean hand”. It is in this regard that we seriously suspect Mrs Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan’s real motive in defending a terrorist suspect like Shafiu Fari Ibrahim and his cohorts. Moreover, her ceaseless inciting statements are threats to peace in Kogi State. She’salmost always spoiling for war and she must be curtailed before it is too late. No Kogite is more important than others and nobody should be treated as untouchable in a matter of threat to the peace and security of any society.
Your Excellency, it is in view of the above that we demand a comprehensive investigation of Mrs. Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan to determine the level of her relationship with the terror suspects in detention and her level of culpability in all therecent violence in Kogi State and any other individuals who may be involved, no matter how highly placed. This is very important in order to forestall another wanton anarchy in Kogi State especially as the general elections are so close. The feelers from home are quite disturbing and we cannot allow Kogi State to be plunged into chaos by violence mongers.
Kindly act on these our cries for help in Kogi State and do the needful for our people’s safety and peace before it gets out of hand.”