Friday, August 7, 2015

Iyano crises: police high-handedness and the silence of Kogi State Government

Idris Wada, Kogi state Governor

By Inaju Inaju

The ear splintering silence of the Kogi State Government following the communal crisis at Iyano makes one feel as if Kogi state has no government or Ibaji people, or should I say Iyano people, at best do not count as citizens of Kogi state or at wortst, are second-class citizens in Kogi State. 
This line of thought is occasioned by the recent communal crisis in Iyano and the reaction of the government. 
Aluaja in Iyano, Ibaji LGA, was raised to the ground through arson and its inhabitants completely sacked from their habitat following a communal crisis that has been reported on this forum in the past. This mail is to inform all that since that unfortunate crime of arson at Iyano, the Kogi State government have neither said a word on the matter or visited the scene of disaster.
It is almost 2 months since that unfortunate and unprecedented communal disaster that made Aluaja people destitute and internally displaced. In the face of such an unprecedented arson the sitting government in Lokoja, despite repeated appeal, has treated the matter and the people with a laissez-fair approach. Not even a word of condolence from the government, not even an acknowledgement of the communal disaster talk-less of a visit from anyone in government with some authority.  The foregoing, by any standard, is unacceptable of a sitting democratic government all over the world, especially in an election year.

If you add the mentioned governmental failure to the mind boggling coordinated police arrest of the Aluaja people that have been victims of arson, murder, unprecedented human right abuse and ethnic cleansing, you come up with a perfect image of a seeming official complicity and duplicity in what ordinarily could be seen as a fight between rural communities.
The likely explanation for the governor's taciturnity in the face of unparalleled and unprecedented disaster; the neglect by the Lugard’s house occupants and the police high-handedness against the Aluaja people is either purely out of spite for the people of Aluaja because someone is feeding those in power lies or purely leadership narrow-mindedness.  whatever may be the case, it cripples even the strongest imagination anywhere in the world that anyone could justify or even attempt to explain the fact that the police set a man that was identified and arrested for murder free and the ones that were picked from their villages and accused of kidnapping and armed robbery are denied bail.
The police have accused some Aluaja youths of disarming armed policemen sent to maintain peace in Iyano. They also accused the youth of "beating the policemen to stupor"! The people of Aluaja, whom no one is listening to, have different story line.
It however begs the question, how a bunch of untrained and unarmed villagers can disarm armed policemen sent to maintain peace in a conflict environment and beat the policemen to stupor. It is either a broad-day lie or the police must have been drunk or it is an officially arranged disarmament and beating. All entreaties for the beaten policeman and their medical records to be revealed have proved futile.

Someone is definitely being economical with the facts.
I am wondering if the police men sent to Iyano were a bunch of pregnant women or sissies.
The other mind boggling and inexplicable police action in the ongoing Iyano crisis is the untenable arrest of men that are over 90 years! The old men were remanded in police custody for days and those who went to see them were also detained for hours. Is it a crime to visit someone in police custody now? Why is the case of Iyano different? 
Young police men have the gumptions to remove caps from the head of more than 90 years old titled rural men, used the caps as weapon to hit the helpless old men on their head, humiliating them in front of their children and wives!
Why the Kogi State Police Command indulges in this inglorious act is flummoxing, but beyond that is the activities of the Kogi State Special Anti-Robbery Squad untold story of perennially hunting, arresting and detaining of the youth of Aluaja. Aluaja youth are now an endengered species in Kogi State!
As I write, the Kogi State Police command have had in their custody for nearly 2 months, young men of Aluaja extraction that were accused of beating police men on duty. They have refused the young men bail on the spurious allegation of kidnapping and robbery. These allegations are not only uncalled for, but they are blights on the police and the silence of the Kogi State Government over the matter is horrendous. 
My investigation into the matter revealed that the allegation of the beating of policemen, robbery and kidnapping are not only fallacious but also dubious and designed to intimidate and make Aluaja people give up their inalienable rights to the land and throne of their ancestors. 

For crying out loud, what is happening in Iyano is a communual conflict. Police must be neutral and serve as peace makers. QED.

For the avoidance of doubt, I want it on record that the people of Aluaja are the victims in the ongoing crisis and anyone that doubt that can ask for historical documents that lays credence to their claims.
This piece therefore is designed to draw the attention of both the Kogi State Government and the Police to the lies that they are fed by those they are listening to. 

The people of Aluaja have accused the police of colluding with their opponents in the arson that destroyed their habitats, something they said, gave their opponents the upper hand to sack them from their homeland.
Since that seemingly faithful and unholy union between the detachments of the police that were sent to ensure peace in the Iyano family feud that lead to the destitution of the people of Aluaja, no other police person or government official has visited the Aluaja community nearly 2 months since the fiasco. 
The displaced Aluaja people are scattered all over Kogi state and other neighboring states where there faith has been left in the hands of God. That is unacceptable if anyone wants us to believe that we have leaders in Kogi state and in Igala land in particular.
A few weeks ago, men of the Kogi State Special Anti Robbery Squad arrested one Thomas, the spokesperson of the Aluaja people while having a drink with friends in a bar after attending the APC rally at Lokoja. The reason for the arrest is shrouded in mystery. As at press time, the young man is still in police custody.
While the Aluaja community's nonsensical sacking from their ancestral land by the combined forces of Iru, Itale, Ikaka, and Echule people, both of Iyano and Abujaga is worrisome; the accusation by the Aluaja people that it happened in the full glare of the policemen sent to maintain peace is traumatic. But beyond that inexplicable seemingly police powerlessness in the face of arson and crime is the dubious arrest of Aluaja scions by the police and the mysterious bile raising reticence of the Wada lead PDP government over the matter.
The PDP Government in Kogi state has neither said a word about the incident, nor rendered any humanitarian assistance to the victims of violence. This noxious act by the Wada-led PDP government of Kogi State leaves one wondering if the government position on the matter, assuming they have one, is that of “sidon look”
In an election year, for a government that is seeking re-election, this is one attitude that could sink her faster than any other. Iyano may not rate high on the Kogi state schemata but suffice it to say that, it is Iyano today, it could be any other community tomorrow. Impunity cannot and must not be condoned, no matter who is involved. Kogi statement is failing to learn from GEJ and their PDP failure in the last election.
Are we so intellectually deficient that we cannot read the bold signpost of the “#bringbackourgirls” campaign and the disaster that it wrecked on the GEJ-led federal government in the last electoral dispensation?
In my layman understanding of governance, the first priority is security. If the government is too busy looking at the size of its stomach to notice the decimation of a whole community then one wonders what moral rectitude such government has to seek a re-election.

As I drive around Lokoja and see the posters of Wada and other pretenders to the Lugard’s house, I cannot help but single out Wada as the one person who has no right to assault our eyes by defacing our streets with his posters. The potholes created on our streets by his neglect are enough campaign against his dream of re-election!   Give it up Man. power no be by force! If you cannot do the job, be man enough to own up and move on to other matters. 
For Wada to be seeking re-election is nothing short of immoral. How can Wada and his team look at us in the eye after such a monumental disastrous 4 years and ask us to return them to Lugard’s house? Even when opportunities present it self for the government to shine, they frolic in putrid political atavisms and political retrogression. I find it hard to see why Wada should be re-elected if he cannot even say sorry to his subjects facing calamity.
While I do not endorse any of the candidates in the forth coming election, for the simple reason that I do not know any of them well enough, I can state without fear of contradiction that Wada is a known quantity and he has no place in government. If he must be forgiven for every other crime he has committed against the people of Kogi State, he cannot be forgiven for neglecting the poor of the poorest and I am not referring to Iyano here. I am thinking of the Ibro water that has stopped flowing, the craters on the only major road in Lokoja, the failure to pay civil servants, the level and quantity of dirt on the streets of lokoja and many more is on my mind.
This is even more so when one throw into the equation the fact that Wada lays claim to the Islamic Faith. A faith that is reputed for its cleanliness and charity towards the poor, the needy and voiceless.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am holding Wada responsible for the dilapidated state in which we find Kogi state today but more so for the deafening silence over Iyano crisis because all bucks stops at his table. I am of the opinion that he is fully sized of the Iyano imbroglio and his PDP government deafening silence over the matter is nothing short of abnegation of his political duties to the people.
The least any government could do, in a situation like the one the Aluaja people find themselves, is to provide humanitarian assistance, better still, the governor or his/her emissary should at least pay a visit to the site of the conflict to assess the level of damage for itself. What the Wada government has done so far is to play the Ostrich.
While Wada and his team are busy campaigning for a re- election, let me give them my unsolicited advice: Elections are won based on how much the people feel the impact of your leadership and in an election year, when crisis strikes it provides an august political chance to show how much you care for your subjects.
What happened in Aluaja in Iyano is a God sent opportunity for the government to ingratiate itself into the mind of the Ibaji people that it has neglected throughout its time in office. While the government may not be able to resolve the conflict, it could at least show that it is on top of things by doing something meaningful to, at least, cushion the pain of the physically and emotionally distressed. 
While Iyano continue to burn under your leadership, I appeal to you to send your emissaries to Ibaji, or at least call your SSA1 and have a tet-a-tet with him on the way forward on the Iyano conflict. 
Two other people you could talk to on the Iyano crisis are His Royal Highnesses, the Gaba’Idu himself (Attah of Igala) and Kaakwu, Ojofe John Egwemi who is the Chairman of the Ibaji Traditional Council. Better still, set up a committee and let them investigate the matter with a view to getting to the bottom of the issues and stop listening to one side of the story.

Truth have two sides, leaders must strive to hear both sides at all times. 
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