From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

National Chairman, Action Alliance (AA), Kenneth Udeze, has confirmed the abduction of three witnesses to testify the party’s petition at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja, venue of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.

Political thugs allegedly abducted three witnesses associated with Olayinka Braimoh, the AA governorship candidate in the November 2023 governorship election in Kogi State, last week.

The three witnesses identified as Idris Khadijat, Safiyat Muhammed and Abdulmalik Muhammed, were allegedly whisked away from the Abuja venue of the election petition tribunal. Ironically, the state APC chairman, Abdullahi Bello, in a statement he signed, debunked the claims that witnesses were abducted.

Bello categorically refuted the mischievous allegation that any of its supporters abducted the witnesses of the Action Alliance political party or even had any altercation with any witness. But, reacting to the controversy, the party’s national chairman told newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, at the party’s national Secretariat, Kubwa, Abuja, that it was a sad development.

Speaking when the Coalition of the United Political Parties (CUPP), led by its National Secretary, Peter Ameh, paid him a solidarity/consultative visit, Udeze said: “It is a very sad and terrible situation. I want to confirm officially that three of Action Alliance witnesses for the election petition tribunal were abducted, and as a matter of fact, they are still missing till today.

“This is the kind of county we find ourselves in. A situation where a governorship candidate sees some loopholes to prove that the election that was conducted in Kogi was not free and fair, and in order not to behave like thugs, he decided to explore the legal means, in order to correct the anomaly in the election only for intimidation to be coming from left, right, and centre from the APC government that won the election in Kogi State.

“I am using this opportunity to really condemn it in its entirety, the threats and intimidation against the candidate of the Action Alliance in Kogi State. I am confirming it, it is exactly what happened,” he lamented.

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He appreciated the CUPP leadership for the visit to one of its allies, noting: “AA, today, as your ally in the political struggle, we are always opened, anything the corps feel, we can do as registered political parties to make sure that we move the welfare of the masses forward, the AA is always there to accommodate that.

The CUPP scribe, Chief Ameh, warned that one thing that allows for dictatorship to take root is when there is a gap between citizens participation, citizen’s advocacy and action.

“When there is that gap and you allow those in government to continue to work without participation, because participation is key. I’m making sure that our points, our ideas and belief in the democratic system is pushed to a point where we hold our leaders accountable.

“So, for us in the CUPP and those who are the leaders of the corps like the national chairman of AA, while their motto is ‘let the masses live’, it is about working for the masses of Nigeria; it is about driving policies and programs that will protect the masses of Nigeria because without the masses, there is no nation.

“When governance becomes self-centered, and policies start biting hard to the point where trucks and warehouses are being looted, people go to warehouses to look for food, then there is need for political party leadership to speak up, and that is why we are here to pay a courtesy/consultation visit to his office, to speak about the issues and the ills of Nigeria and, also, issues of multi party democratic practice in Nigeria.

“That is why we are talking about the next national constitutional reform that is coming up, that political parties must participate, because we need the survival of political parties like AA, ADC, SDP, NRM and all the other parties, including APP. Our democratic system would be truly enriched and deepened to a point that would allow the son of a man born in Nyanya, the son of a man born in Agage, Sogunle, Somolu, Fadeyi, and the son of a man born in Ogun to compete with those who are born in Ikoyi, Asokoro and Maitama to have the same level of participatory platform.

“This, he said, will deliver a country where the right of every citizen is protected, where the rights of those who protect us are also protected to work in the armed forces. So, for all these reasons and so many issues that have bedevilled our democratic practice, even our economy and the social environment. That is why we felt it is very important that voices like these must be encouraged, must be supported given all the background that is needed to push forward because it is about solidarity in practice and defence of our country, solidarity forever,” he said.