The attack on the residence of the Kogi State Residence Electoral Commissioner Gabriel Longpet has continued to trigger reactions from stakeholders with the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) trading words over the incident.
In a press conference hours after the Friday attack, the Kogi APC Campaign Council blamed the incident on the SDP governorship candidate Muritala Ajaka and his supporters, calling for his arrest and prosecution.
“They have finally done their worst by attacking the residence of the Kogi State INEC Commissioner, engaging security agents in a fierce gun battle and eventually burning down some vehicles in the residence and the area,” the APC Campaign Council spokesman Kingsley Fanwo said.
“The same arsonists also had an attempt to burn down the Kogi State Government House foiled by our eagle-eye security agents. The same attempt was foiled at the State APC Secretariat in Lokoja.”
Fanwo, who is also the Kogi State Commissioner for Information, accused the SDP and their collaborators of desperation to destroy some documents in INEC. He claimed it was to cover the heist they committed in Kogi East where they allegedly killed APC supporters “and drove them out of collation centres to forge the results that were eventually trumped by the massive votes of Kogites for the Governor-Elect”.
Election Not War
But the SDP has absolved the party of any blame in the attack, claiming it was masterminded by “thugs who are loyal to Governor Yahaya Bello”.
“We strongly condemn the assassination attempt on the INEC Resident Commissioner for Kogi state, Dr. Hale Gabriel Longpet, which took place in Lokoja at approximately 2:00 am this morning, December 1st, 2023,” the party said in a statement by the Director, New Media, Muri/ Sam Campaign Organisation David Ijele.
He regretted the attack, saying: “Election should not be treated as a war, nor should it be a matter of life and death. If the election was won fairly and transparently, then the legal process should be allowed to run its course without interference.
“However, it is unacceptable for thugs, in their high numbers yesterday, to be subject to fake protests, insisting that, on no account should forensic teams be allowed to do their jobs.”
The SDP chieftain thanked security agencies for their “timely intervention” which he said forestalled the assailant from further damage.
“Those individuals who have been involved in these attacks on INEC REC must be held accountable for their actions. We call for all those who have been involved in the protests, inciting violence and making provocative statements, to be apprehended and brought to justice,” he added.
Friday’s incident is coming about two weeks after the APC coasted to victory in the Kogi State Governorship election, beating the SDP which took second in the November 14 exercise.
But the SDP has rejected the results and is in court to challenge APC’s Usman Ododo’s declaration as Yahaya Bello’s successor in Lugarad House.