The November 16, 2019 governorship election in Kogi State might have come and gone, but not without leaving sad memories. Aside reports of large scale violence, which characterized the election, perhaps, the murder of Salome Abuh in Ochadamu Ofu Local Government Area of the state is one experience that will be difficult to forget both by her family, the Ochadamu community and by extension the entire country.
A few hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced Yahaya Bello, candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of Kogi governorship election, political thugs repeatedly attacked the Ochadamu community. In the unfortunate incident, the Woman Leader of Wada/Aro Campaign Council, Ochadamu Ward, Hon. Mrs. Acheju Abuh, was burnt alive in her home by suspected jubilant supporters of APC and thugs said to be celebrating their party’s victory.
While narrating the chilling story then, the spokesman, Wada/Aro Campaign Council, then Faruk Adejoh-Audu, had said, “Thugs, shooting sporadically, arrived Hon. (Mrs.) Abuh’s house at about 2pm on that faithful day and surrounded the house, bolting every exit and escape from outside.
“They then poured petrol on the building and set it ablaze as other terrorized villagers watched from hiding. She reportedly attempted to escape through a window but was prevented by the metal burglary proof and gunshots fired in her direction. The bloodthirsty thugs waited, shooting and watching with relish while Mrs. Abuh cried from inside the inferno until her voice died out.
“They reportedly left only when the entire house and Mrs. Abuh had been burnt to ashes. There are fears that the killing spree may escalate over the night. This is the most bizarre way to die.”
The Kogi State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ovye William, while confirming the incident, tried to narrow it down to a misunderstanding between one Awolu Zekeri aged 35 years, member of APC and one Gowon Simeon, a member of PDP, both of Ochadamu that led to Gowon Simeon stabbing Zekeri with a knife on his lap; he died on the way to the Hospital.
As a result, angry youths in the area mobilized to the house of one Simeon Abuh of same address who is an uncle to the suspect, set it ablaze, thereby burning one Salome Abuh, aged 60 years.
Meanwhile, the husband of late Women Leader of PDP, Mr. Abuah insists that there must be for justice in the murder of his wife. In a statement, Abuah noted that the brutal murder of his wife and the destruction of his properties were premeditated.
The statement explained that the culprits were known to the community, stressing that “On Saturday, 16 November 2019, at the Ochadamu Primary School Polling Unit, a particularly youth in the company of other boys told me that he was going to deal with my younger brother, Gowon Abuh, who is a strong supporter of PDP, and that he and others were in the payroll of Governor Yahaya Bello 4+4.
“He further said that this election was for the APC and there was nothing anyone could do about it. I politely told him that there was no need for this and that we are all brothers; we all drink the same flowing river, go to the same playing ground in the community and we shall still remain in the same community, politics notwithstanding.
However, nine months after her killing, nothing concrete appears to have been done. Now her family is left with no option but to call on President Muhammodu Buhari for compensation for their losses, both of human life and property, particularly the reconstruction of the burnt house.
The husband of the PDP Chieftain, Abuh, who made the call in Abuja recently while addressing journalists, stated that since the murder of his late wife by suspected APC thugs, neither government nor any political party had commiserated with the family.
According to him, “My wife was burnt alive and four houses in our family compound were also burnt down, will the fifth made inhabitable on Monday, 18 November 2019 by the All Progressive Congress’ (APC) thugs, chanting GYB 4+4 and shooting sporadically.
“It is based on this that I wish to formally set the records straight through this medium with a view to letting the world know that neither government at any level nor any political party, the APC whose thugs perpetrated these cruel acts, nor the PDP for whose cause she paid this supreme price has commiserated with us, either as a family or me, the husband, personally, for these dastardly and cruel acts against us for which we wish to call on relevant organizations and well-meaning individuals to come to our aid as we passionately appeal for adequate compensation and justice to justify her rights to life and association.
“With the help of family and friends, we were only able to organize and bury my wife without support from neither of these political parties nor the government at any level. My beloved wife was a devote Christian, a lover of peace who hated anything violence and evil, until she was, unknown to us, marked for this cruel act.
“A grassroots politician, mobilizer and community leader of great repute, she was a Women Leader for the PDP since the early days of her political career.”
Abuh noted that the attack on his wife and destruction of their properties were premeditated on Saturday, 16 November, and carried out on Monday, 18 November 2019 by the thugs. He also alleged that the thugs who chanted political slogans, burnt his wife alive, including four houses with the fifth one made inhabitable, and three other PDP stakeholders in Ochadamu, had their houses looted and burnt down.
Abandoned to his fate and loss of his dear wife and property, Mr. Abuh made a passionate appeal to President Buhari to treat the issue of his homelessness as an emergency and also ensure that justice prevails on the murder of his wife.
“I make the following simple prayers, that President Buhari should graciously ensure a sincere and comprehensive investigation of my wife’s murder with a view to ensuring that justice prevails, no matter who may be involved, including the sponsors of these dastardly acts. I wish to state that up until now nothing has been heard from anywhere.”
Abuh also demanded that his late wife should be immortalised as a political celebrity who paid the supreme price for the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria among other things. He also revealed that he had petitioned President Buhari, Buhari’s wife, Aisha, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, Minister of Women Affairs, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, among others, appealing for justice for the murder of his late wife.
However, Police Public Relations Officer, (PPRO), Kogi, DSP William Aya, told The Guardian in Lokoja that the persons who perpetrated the dastardly act had been arrested and have since been charged to court to face the full wrath of the law. Contrary to insinuations in some quarters that the arrested persons who are five in number have been freed, Aya said that they were being remanded in prison custody.
While also speaking with The Guardian in Lokoja, the deputy chairman of PDP in the state, Mr. Sam Ranti Abenemi, said the party was doing everything possible to get justice for their late woman leader.
“As a party we are not allowing the matter to be swept under the carpet,” Abenemi said. “We are going to pursue it to its logical conclusion until justice is believed to have been done. I can’t give you the details now. But I can assure the public particularly the family of our late woman leader and party supporters that our legal team is working very hard on the matter.”
The cheering news then was the promise made by the governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, to work with the police and other security agencies to ensure that perpetrators of electoral violence, which led to the death of some persons, were brought to justice to serve as a deterrent to others.
Bello spoke when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) presented certificate of return to him as governor for winning the November 16 governorship election. His statement was meant to help not only to doused tension but restore public order.
While speaking in the same vain, then Kogi governor’s spokesman, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo, had also expressed disappointment over the “mindless attacks by rival parties in Ochadamu,” saying anyone who broke the law would be punished regardless of party affiliations.
“His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello has directed security agents to quell the rising tension and also ensure that perpetrators of the murder and arson are brought to book. The governor is elected to protect all Kogi people regardless of their ethnic or political beliefs”.
A middle aged man, who said he had to run away from Ochadamu, told The Guardian in confidence that the death of the PDP’s woman leader was a great loss to the community. According to him, Salome Abuh had impacted positively on the community, saying that the people would not forget in a hurry her contribution to the community.