A political rights activist in Kogi State, Austin Okai, has debunked claims that youths descended on two middle-aged protesters who were pasting Buhari-Must-Go posters in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.
Okai alleged that the state governor, Yahaya Bello and the state commissioner of police, Ede Ayuba, sponsored thugs to attack the protesters, stating that the police commissioner aided Governor Yahaya Bello in legalising thuggery and destroying the social fabric of the state.
Okai called on the state commissioner of police, asking him not to allow himself to be used by the state government as a tool in destabilising the state and infringing on the rights of citizens of the state.
He accused policemen in the state of unprofessional behaviour, especially among some of its high ranking officers with all its attendant negative effects on the national security architecture.
He went further to assert that peaceful protest is a fundamental right of every citizen; and that, protest against President Muhammadu Buhari has assumed a global dimension and that the people of Kogi state feel the impact of maladministration like citizens elsewhere in the country.
According to him, the state commissioner of police displayed unprofessional conduct “by playing a part in aiding of thugs who attacked citizens who were going about exercising their legitimate and democratic right to peaceful protest”, stating that, the police in Kogi state have developed the habit of aiding thuggery in the state.
While calling for the unconditional release of the peaceful protesters, Okai accused Kogi state government of playing the politics of ‘anything goes’ just to please Buhari.
He went on to say that Kogi state is not for Buhari and has never been for Buhari in any peaceful election.
He said, “The narrative that the protesters were arrested by youths in the state is nothing but an attempt by the Kogi state government to discredit the popular disapproval of the people of the state for everything All Progressives Congress.”
The political rights activist said he can authoritatively confirm that the protesters were arrested by the police who handed them over to the thugs, who physically assaulted them and later returned them to the police.
Okai insisted that the comissioner of police will be held responsible should anything happen to the arrested protesters.
A mob on Sunday descended on two middle-aged protesters who were pasting Buhari-Must-Go posters in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.
According to reports, the irate mob flogged the two youths, filmed them and brutalised them before they were later handed over to the police.
It was gathered that the police thereafter quizzed the two protesters and detained them when they insisted on seeing their lawyer before making a statement.
You cannot leave your state and come to our state to protest. Did we tell you we donât want Buhari?— PigoHedligerð³ð¬ (@OfficialPigo) April 5, 2021
Kogi indigenes flog the Buhari must go protesters mercilessly pic.twitter.com/qouQTCqZk2
In videos that have gone viral, the protesters were seen being molested and questioned by the mob before they were flogged as the youths forced them to clean their painting of “Buhari Must Go.”
“Last night, these patriots were arrested by policemen attached to Governor Yahaya Bello in Lokoja, Kogi State. They were taken to the state police command and detained. However, this morning, the Commissioner of Police handed over to Bello’s thugs for torture and humiliation.
“I spoke to the Commissioner this morning and he told me he was with them, only to hand them over to thugs to be tortured and humiliated all over Lokoja,” a source explained.
Speaking with SaharaReporters, the CP, Ayuba Edeh, claimed the protesters were still with the police.
The police commissioner said, “It was vigilantes in town who arrested them and brought them to the command. They were in my office and I asked them what the matter was. They said they came from other states to protest in Lokoja. I asked them to write it down in a statement but they said they would not talk until their lawyer comes.
“So, I asked the policemen to let their lawyer come. We did not release them to the hoodlums. They are still with the police.”
Meanwhile, the state government in a statement made available to newsmen in Lokoja supported the attack on the youths, saying they were from Benue state.
“The Kogi State Government wishes to commend the gallant and ever vigilant youths of the state for rising to the occasion to crush the ungodly campaign by some imported and sponsored youths who came to the State to campaign against President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The sponsored youths congregated at Benue State from where they moved to Kogi State and began to paint walls as well as display anti-Buhari posters that were printed in a South-South state,” the state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Kingsley Fanwo said.