Gun duel in Kogi: Gov. Bello, Ajaka SDP gov’ship candidate escape death

Claims and counterclaims rend the media space on Saturday after an attack on convoys of Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello and the Governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party SDP Alhaji Muritala Yakubu Ajaka took place at the same spot.

After the ugly incident, both sides claimed in separate press statements that it was an assassination attempt on their principals.

The governor’s camp claimed that he escaped an assassination attempt on his life allegedly launched by Ajaka’s men while Ajaka’s campaign organization also issued a statement alleging that Governor Bello personally led the assassination bid on the life of Ajaka.

In a news report that had the imprimatur of the State Government, the governor was said to have escaped death following an attack on his convoy by gunmen.

According to available information, the attack took place at about 12:30 pm on Saturday in Banda, close to Lokoja.

Incidentally, that was the same spot where the Ajaka Campaign Organisation claimed that its principal was attacked.

According to the story by the governor’s camp, the attack specifically occurred close to the Forward Base of the Nigerian Navy, near the state capital.

According to a statement issued by the state government, “the attackers are believed to be supporters of Alhaji Muritala Yakubu Ajaka, a former member of the All Progressives Congress, who is the candidate of the Social Democratic Party for the upcoming governorship election in Kogi State in November this year.

Ajaka was disqualified from participating in the primaries of the APC that produced Governor Bello’s anointed governorship candidate.

A statement issued by Kingsley Femi Fanwo, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, said that the convoy of Ajaka, having sighted that of Bello, blocked the road and his armed thugs started shooting sporadically at the convoy of the Governor.

The statement reads: “A Tundra branded with the logo of the SDP and with SDP flags also blocked the Governor’s vehicle and occupants of the SDP branded Tundra were armed with Rifles and short guns.

“The Governor left the scene unscathed and there is no cause for panic as the Governor is in high spirits.

“Some security aides and other aides attached to the Governor sustained some degrees of injuries and have been rushed to medical facilities for medical attention.

“We urge the people of Kogi State to remain calm as security agents are in full control to ensure the arrest of the hoodlums behind the attack.

“The State Government will ensure that law and order are maintained as the attackers will be brought to justice.

“The Governor has warned that no APC member should involve in any reprisal attack as insecurity from any quarter will be met with stiff penalties.”

But the Campaign organization of the SDP guber candidate in a statement issued by Faruk Adejoh-Audu, Director of Communications gave a reverse narrative of what allegedly transpired.

Entitled: “KOGI SDP CANDIDATE ESCAPES GOV BELLO-LED ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT”, it claimed: “The candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Alhaji Muritala Yakubu Ajaka this afternoon luckily escaped assassination when his motorcade was attacked by gunmen personally led by the Governor of Kogi State Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

“Alhaji Ajaka and some vehicles accompanying him were approaching Lokoja at the vicinity of the ram market at about 300pm when two power bikes and Toyota Hilux overtook his car and forced it to a stop.

“This assault was heralded by a Mercedes Benz Limousine with Bello’s official crest accompanied by an open pick- loaded with masked and hooded men bearing AK 47 Assault Rifles.

“The men jumped down and began shooting at Ajaka’s car and all other cars in the motorcade. They shot for over 5 minutes at Ajaka’s bulletproof car unprovoked.

“All this while Bello’s car was parked a few meters in front and was used to barricade the road while the gunmen had a field day.

“When they ceased, Ajaka’s car, a Lexus SUV though bulletproof was totally damaged and demobilized.

“Among the gunmen is one Friday Makama a notorious thug and a former member of the House of Assembly who was recently appointed Director General for Fireams Recovery by Mr Bello. Also identified among the hoodlums accompanying the governor is one Bashir Gegu the commissioner for Solid Minerals who has a gross reputation for thuggery.

“Mr Ajaka who was on his way to keep an appointment with the Mai Geri, The first class traditional ruler of Lokoja and The Attah Igala in Idah decided to abort the journey and return to Abuja after conferring with the Commander of the Lokoja Naval Base.

“This again is another low score by Mr. Yahaya Bello in the exercise of crude power and brute force.

“Bello is on record to have unleashed guns and gunmen on several citizens in the course of his Eight years draconian rule. Several persons have been killed by his hoodlums during electioneering while others are missing.

“Ajaka until recently was a member of the APC who was forced out of the governorship nomination by Mr Yahaya Bello who used minions and proxies to obtain an injunction from a Lokoja High Court restraining him from participating in the primaries.

“The brute action today is obviously in a continuation of Bello’s desperation to stop Yakubu from continuing in the election.

“We appeal to the new President of the Federal Republic, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to demonstrate that his administration will not permit the brigandage of the last eight years which has led to the deaths of thousands of Nigeria.

“Election is still five months away, but if Mr Bello does not get a strong signal that violence would not be allowed in the new administration several of our citizens will be killed by his thugs and gunmen before the polls,” the statement added.