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‘Security measure’ | ‘Voters trapped’ — Kogi government, Akpoti clash over road excavation amid polls

‘Security measure’ | ‘Voters trapped’ — Kogi government, Akpoti clash over road excavation amid polls
February 24
20:52 2023

Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, the senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Kogi central, has accused the state government of trying to disenfranchise voters.

In a Facebook live video on Thursday, some residents could be seen around gullies in Ihima, Okehi LGA of Kogi state, while others were trying to fill some holes.

Akpoti-Uduaghan said a road excavation was ongoing in the area, adding that residents were trapped.

She also alleged that the road excavation was a plot by the state government to influence voter turnout on Saturday for the presidential and national assembly elections.

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“We woke up this morning to the news that Yahaya Bello has instructed the excavation of all access roads to my hometown. My hometown is cut off from Obangede community; it is also cut off from Eika. And right now, I am in front of another road which was just excavated, thereby cutting me out of travelling out of my hometown,” she said.

“What this means is INEC would not be able to [access] certain communities, especially my hometown. What this also means is if Yahaya Bello and his APC goons decide to attack me and the good people of Kogi central in Ihima community, it will be impossible for the DPO to get across to this place. That means I, Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, my fellow candidates, and supporters are trapped. We have no way out because Yahaya Bello has dug gullies.

“Ihima-Ege road was dug just 10 minutes before I got here. As a matter of fact, I met the Adavi local government chairman running away the moment we came here. And this has happened on all other roads. So, that means I am trapped in here. And if we do not cover these roads by tomorrow, it will be impossible for INEC to get their materials down here.

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“I am calling on the president and all service chiefs to call Yahaya Bello to order. If he is going to lose, and I know he will lose, he should lose honourably. As a matter of fact, Yahaya Bello you are not on the ballot, so what the hell is your problem? Why are you fighting so hard? Why are you fighting the people?”

‘CUTTING OFF ROADS IS DELIBERATE SECURITY MEASURE’

Reacting to the senatorial candidate’s accusation in a statement, Kingsley Fanwo, Kogi’s commissioner for information and communications, said the road excavation was a deliberate security measure.

Fanwo said the roads were cut off to divert traffic and prevent criminals who have been breaching the peace of the area from plying the roads.

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He said the move was spurred by the December explosion in the community as well as recent attacks by gunmen.

“It would be recalled that a couple of days ago, the secretariat complex of Okehi Local Government suffered from the effect of an explosive device. The security agencies ensured no life was lost as a result of the explosion, but the state government convened an emergency security council meeting to address the security challenges in the area with a view to devising strategies of averting possible future occurrence, especially as we witnessed similar explosion on December 29, 2022 at Okene,” Fanwo said.

“One of the measures arrived at was to restrict the number of routes to the flashpoints to enable security agents properly mount effective surveillance on the other access roads for the safety of the people, especially as they go to the polls on Saturday, February 25, 2023.”

He described Akpoti-Uduaghan’s accusations as hypocritical, saying she did not care about the explosion in the community until she wanted to use the road.

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He called on residents of the state to come out and vote, adding that security measures were in place to ensure peaceful elections as the Kogi government is committed to protecting its people.

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