A chieftain of the ACN in Benue Charles Ayede was this evening gunned down by suspected assassins. Ayeded and the Benue ACN governorship candidate in the just concluded elections, Professor Steve Ugbah were on their way to Makurdi. The shooting also injured one of Professor Ugbah's strong supporter, Mr Adaa Maagbe.
Assailants opened fire on the team near Kadarko in Nasawara state, 25 minutes away from Makurdi the Benue state capital.
Eyewitness reports said Ayede and Mr Maagbe were riding ahead of Prof. Ugbah when the assassins accosted and killed Ayede. Mr Ayede died on the spot, while Maagbe got shot in the hand. Mr Maagbe ran into the bush when their car came to a stop and immediately told Prof Ugbah to make a detour back to Lafia, the capital of Nasarawa State. From the nature of the attack, it was clear the assailants were out to kill Prof. Ugbah.
It is widely believed that the ACN candidate clearly defeated Governor Gabriel Suswam in the April 26th Gubernatorial elections, but Suswam characteristically connived with cahoots David Mark, the current Nigerian Senate president and dubious Independent National Electoral Commission officials led by Nasir Ayinlara to declare the election in the governor's favour of Suswam. The scale of rigging by the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in the Benue election was so widespread that political observers noted it would not take tribunal judges more than a few days to toss Governor Suswam out of power.
Early in the week, the ACN Chairman in Benue, Comrade Abba Yaro was physically attacked by PDP thugs who visited him to demand that he turn in all the evidence the party had against the PDP to them. Abba Yaro is still receiving treatment for machete cuts at an undisclosed hospital in the state.
Also, last week a lawyer on the Action Congress of Nigeria legal team in the state had gone to one of the local governments to gather evidence for use at the tribunal and no sooner had he returned than it was discovered he had been poisoned. He was immediately rushed to a hospital in Makurdi run by the one of the Governor's strong supporters. He was pronounced dead shortly after arrival .
Since indicating interest for the office of Governor in 2007, no fewer than 5 high profile persons in Benue have succumbed to suspicious deaths believed to the handiwork of Suswam and his deadly gangs. In 2007, a former Minister of Police Affairs under Obasanjo, Mr Stephen Ibn Akiga was poisoned to death after declaring interest in running for governor. He was Obasanjo's preferred candidate for that position in Benue State. His death believed to be masterminded by Suswam, paved the way for his emergence as PDP candidate in 2007.
In 2009, a fiery priest whom had preached about the governor's swine fraud for which he (Suswam) was reportedly arrested for in the USA was attacked and killed by thugs loyal to the governor. Last year, Mr Jonathan Biam, an ANPP candidate and formidable challenger to Suswam's re-election bid, died under mysterious circumstances shortly after picking up his form to run for the governorship race.
The attempt on Professor Steve ugbah's life today was aimed ending his formidable resolve to upturn the governor's "victory" at the tribunal.
Governor Suswam has intense fear for election petitions tribunals and tries very hard avoid any form of electoral judicial scrutiny. In 2003 after losing his reelection bid to the House of Reps to late Mahmud Akiga, he used physical inducements for Mahmud to withdraw the case against him. Elder brother to Mahmud, Stephen Akiga, whom Suswam later poisoned to death, prevailed on his younger brother to give up the case.
In 2007, Senator Daniel Saror of the ANPP again loudly defeated Gabriel Suswam at the governorship polls, but Maurice Iwu fraudulently awarded victory to the former congressman. Saror, sure of his mandate had dragged the governor to court, until veiled threats from a corrupt Tiv Monarch, Tor Tiv Akawe Torkula, got Saror to pull out of the case.
Terver Kakih, governor Suswam's challenger in the 2011 PDP primaries had been beaten too and almost killed on the same road where the assassins struck today. Mr. Kakih dragged the governor to court for certificate forgery. The case is ongoing.
Critics say it is the fear of yet another elections petitions tribunal that has gotten the Benue governor to put his gang of killers back on the road again.