Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
Members of the National Assembly representing Kogi State have said they can no longer visit their constituencies due to alleged intimidation by Governor Yahaya Bello.
In a joint press statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday, eight of the 12 federal lawmakers from Kogi called on President Muhammadu Buhari to caution Bello in the interest of the state and Nigeria’s democracy.
The three members of the Senate among them are Senators Dino Melaye (Kogi-West), Ahmed Ogembe (Kogi-Central), and Atai Aidoko (Kogi-East). The House of Representatives members are Karim Sunday, Yusuf Ayo, Tajudeen, Egwu Emmanuel, Benjamin Okolo and Omale Atayoma.
The lawmakers chronicled series of alleged acts of intimidation against them and their supporters by the governor within the last one year.
The latest of such actions, they said, was the prevention of Ogembe from entering Okene last Saturday by suspected thugs allegedly loyal to Bello. The thugs were said to have earlier in March disrupted an empowerment programme organised by the senator and chased away the attendees.
The federal lawmakers stated that it was a known fact to all watchers of events in Kogi that the attacks on Ogembe were also unleashed on other lawmakers in the state at different times recently.
The statement read, “This cry has become imperative because persons holding contrary or alternative political views with Governor Yahaya Bello can no longer move freely within the state, neither can they hold political meetings or conduct political activities such as town hall meetings, and constituency empowerment programmes without violent interruption by the state government and its agents.
“The governor has muzzled the state legislators, flagrantly disobeyed the pronouncements of the courts and acting as lord unto himself, and no one else can challenge him in any manner whatsoever despite our constitutional democracy and its well entrenched, time-tested principle of checks and balances.
“If, as legislators, we are prevented from constituency visits, and our empowerment programmes are violently disrupted by the governor, one wonders how it would be possible for elections to hold without violence in 2019.”
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