PREPARATION for the conduct the local government elections in Kogi State slated for May 4, got underway weekend with the councillorship primaries of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, held across the 21 local councils.
The primaries, however, turned violent in some councils between factions who could not agree on the modalities for the conduct of the elections.
It was a free-for-all in Yagba West Council as aggrieved members opted to settle scores with machetes and other dangerous weapons.
No fewer than 20 persons were injured, with the party chairman in the area, Mr Ayo Alabi allegedly hospitalized as a result of head injury sustained from matchet cut.
No fewer than 22 persons are said to have been arrested in the aftermaths, including the immediate past principal officer for Yagba West Council (names withheld)
His arrest alongside his elder brother was reportedly ordered by the Police Commissioner, Mr Frank Opara.
Twenty-one others were reportedly picked from their homes as the search for culprits was said to have continued till yesterday.
Contentions over the PDP guidelines for the primaries and reactions to the outcome of the elections were said to be responsible for the violence.
A PDP chairmanship aspirant in Yagba East Council, Mr FG Ibrahim observed that although the election was generally peaceful in the council, he protested the conduct in one of the wards.
The scenario was different in Yagba West where thugs were said to have unleashed violent attack on the PDP secretariat.
In an alleged attempt to disrupt the primaries having not gone in their favour, thugs said to be loyal to a faction, in their hundreds, invaded the PDP secretariat at Odo Ere, Yagba West Council headquarters, overpowered the police detachment deployed in the party office.
They seized the local government party chairman, Mr Ayo Alabi and secretary, Idowu Afolabi who were given the beatings of their lives. It took efforts by the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Odo Ere, who mobilized more men from neighbouring Egbe Police station to rescue the party officials from the miscreants.
The blood soaked Alabi, the party chairman, narrating his ordeal to newsmen at the Odo Ere Divisional Police Headquarters attributed his “narrow escape from death” to divine intervention.
His secretary was said to have been placed in the intensive care unit of the cottage hospital, Odo Ere and could not be reached. Nearby Odo Eri, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Olufemi Bolarin was said to have escaped unhurt, after he was ambushed by factional youths. It took several gun shots fired by his police orderly to gain passage. While a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Mrs Justina Abanida, also ambushed, had the screen of her Hilux van smashed.
An officer of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, CIB, office in Odo Ere told newsmen that the arrested persons have been transferred to Lokoja headquarters of the Police Command.