Melaye Alleges Intimidation, Removal of Billboards

Dino Melaye

Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja

The senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi West senatorial district, Senator Dino Melaye, has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) and agents of Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, of intimidation, harassment of the opposition and destruction of his billboards.

However, the state government has denied the allegations, saying the allegations are unfounded and an attempt to cheaply blackmail the government.

This was made known to journalists in Kabba yesterday by the Director General of Dino Melaye Senatorial Campaign Organisation, Chief Shola Ojo, during its inaugural meeting.

Ojo, a former member of House of Representatives and erstwhile Secretary to the State Government (SSG), said the meeting deliberated on sundry issues preparatory to the flag-off of the campaign.

He condemned the destruction of Melaye’s campaign billboards by unknown persons, and called for full investigation by the local government sole administrators to fish out the culprits or be seen as accomplishes.

The campaign director noted that the party was aware of the marching order handed the hoodlums to mark PDP supporters in the zone as targets of violent attacks in the days ahead.

THISDAY gathered that despite the lifting of ban on campaign by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the meeting initially slated to hold at the Melaye campaign organisation office along Okene road was later moved to the Kogi West PDP zonal office in Kabba due to failure to secure police permit. The police were said to have referred the conveners of the meeting to the state Commissioner of Police in Lokoja

Previously, the police authorities in Lokoja had been at loggerheads with Melaye. The former had declared the senator wanted for his alleged refusal to honour its invitation over the exchange of fire power between his convoy and the police in the state few months ago.

Melaye, on the other hand, has serially alleged organised attempts on his life in the state.

Asked how the PDP candidate intend to carry out his campaign effectively under the circumstances, Ojo said Melaye is not on the run from the long arms of the law.

“We are of the conviction that our candidate is innocent and that he will be vindicated in the end. Let them assure us of his protection today, he will submit himself to the police immediately, but you know the politics behind these allegations and the risk to his life turning himself in when he is not assured of protection. I assure you that he will be here with us during the campaign and victory for him is assured. He will come and nothing will happen,” he stated.

However, journalists were later conducted round parts of the senatorial districts, including Mopamuro, Yagba West and Yagba East Local Government Areas headquarters, showing the remains of Melaye’s campaign billboards either mutilated, tore or burnt down

Meanwhile, in a swift reaction, the state government yesterday denied the allegations

The Director General of Media and Publicity to the governor, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo, in a statement said the allegations of harassment and intimidation of PDP or supporters of the party candidates in Mopamuro are unfounded and an attempt to cheaply blackmail the government.

He said: “The administration of Governor Bello doesn’t believe in intimidation of the opposition. Our party has done enough to win the 2019 polls at all levels. We do not need to harass anybody.

“We respect the fundamental rights of the people to choose who to support, and PDP should not start giving excuses for their impending failure.”