â€¢ Governor orders investigation, insists one person killed
Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
It was a violent day in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, Monday morning when unknown gunmen invaded a peaceful protest organised by Senator Dino Melaye to compel the state government to pay civil servants their salaries and open tertiary institutions in the state.
The incident prompted the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, who has been engaged in a war of attrition with the garrulous senator, to order an investigation into the crisis.
The protest, which took place at the main gate of the Kogi State Polytechnic at about 10 a.m., was violently interrupted when unknown gunmen suspected to be political thugs, numbering over 20 and fully armed opened fire at Melaye and other protesters, reportedly leaving five people dead, while several others sustained injuries of various magnitude.
Melaye, who had already finished addressing the students, had given the state government a 30-day ultimatum to pay workersâ€™ salaries and reopen the tertiary institutions, warning that failure to do so would compel him to lead a civil protest at the expiration of the ultimatum.
Melaye, who escaped death by a whisker, took cover when the gunmen opened fire on him.
However, the security personnel attached to Melaye quickly responded in an exchange of gunfire.
At the end of the bloody confrontation, five people were reportedly killed, while other persons sustained injuries, including two personnel of the Department of State Services (DSS) attached to Melaye.
The gun battle, which lasted for more than one hour, saw the arrival of Kogi State Police Commissioner, Wilson Inalegwu, riot policemen and military men fully armed to restore law and order.
Two vehicles were burned down during the crossfire, including a Toyota Sienna bus filled with guns and ammunition.
The incident, which took place in Felele along the Okene-Lokoja-Abuja highway, on the outskirts of the town, led to many commuters abandoning their vehicles, as they fled for their lives.
Melaye, after the violent incident, described the invasion as the second assassination attempt on his life.
He said two of the DSS operative attached to him were shot by the gunmen, adding that a pump action gun recovered from one of the gunmen who was killed was taken to the DSSâ€™ office in Lokoja.
The senator also alleged that the Special Adviser to the governor on Security, Jerry Omodara, Senior Special Assistant on Political Matters, Mallam Abdul Dolla, and Special Adviser on Multilateral, Mr. Adoga were all present during the attack.
Later Monday, the Kogi State governor visited the scene of the confrontation and expressed shock at the development.
He urged the security agents in the state to investigate the incident, but said only one person lost his life during the shootout.