A socio-cultural group, Uk’Omu Igala Organization, has called on the President of the Court of Appeal, Monica Dongban-Mensem, to relocate the Kogi State Governorship Elections Petition Tribunal for the November 11, 2023 governorship elections to Abuja, in order to guarantee the safety of the members of the tribunal, litigants and the electoral materials .
The group said the safety of members of the tribunal could not be guaranteed if they had to sit on the election in Lokoja.
This was contained in a statement issued Tuesday by its national leader, Elder David Abutu, and national secretary, Dr Sabastine Abu.
They tasked security agencies to provide protection for the electoral materials and ensure they are not damaged before the tribunal sit to examine them.
The organization argued that the attacks on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Lokoja, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Kogi State, and the Secretary of the Electoral Tribunal were ominous.
The statement read in part: “We have observed with dismay the shameless and callous lawlessness taking place in Lokoja, Kogi state, calculated at frustrating the assignment of the tribunal set up to hear petitions against the Kogi State Governorship Election that took place on November 11, 2023.
“On Wednesday, November 29, 2023, Governor Yahaya Bello’s thugs surrounded INEC’s office in Lokoja, preventing the counsels to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) governorship candidate, Muritala Ajaka, from accessing the office to inspect voting materials necessary to establish their case against the All Progressives Congress (APC’s) so-called victory at the polls.
“On Thursday, November 30, 2023, military personnel had to be deployed to the INEC office in Lokoja to disperse the thugs to enable the SDP’s counsels to access the secretariat in order to inspect the materials used in conducting the November 11, 2023 elections.
“On Friday, December 1, 2023, APC apologists who claimed to be hoodlums, invaded the residence of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Kogi State, Dr. Hale Gabriel Longpet, destroying several vehicles.
“On Monday, December 4, 2023 thugs suspected to be working for the APC waylaid the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal Secretary, David Mike, while he was on his way to Court in Lokoja. He was forced into a vehicle and driven off to an unknown location, but documents related to the election petition in his custody were forcefully obtained and destroyed.
“It is disturbing that in spite of all these security breaches, the Nigeria Police Force in Lokoja has maintained unusual silence, not making arrests or even investigating the criminal acts. This kind of brigandage cannot be condoned in a democracy, and as a socio-cultural organization representing the Kogi East Senatorial District, we are totally against it. As a result, we make the following demands of the Federal Government:
The Kogi State Governorship Elections Tribunal should be relocated to Abuja, to ensure they conduct their activities without being exposed to danger. The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN to ensure this step is taken immediately.
“Security agencies should provide protection for the electoral materials and ensure they are not damaged before the Kogi State Governorship Election Tribunal sit to examine them.”