Three people reported dead in Lokoja after Senator Dino Melaye's rally is attacked by armed gunmen

ABOUT three people have been confirmed dead following a political rally in Lokoja called by Kogi West's Senator Dino Melaye aimed at addressing the ongoing campaign to get him recalled from the National Assembly.


Of late, Senator Melaye has been under pressure after moves began to get him recalled following a bitter spat between him and Kogi State governor Yahya Bello. In a bid to confront his critics, Senator Melaye held a public rally in Lokoja yesterday which unfortunately ended with a stampede.


According to reports, three persons were confirmed dead and five others were left injured after the rally during which Senator Melaye gathered students and supporters at the gate of Kogi State Polytechnic, Lokoja. In his speech, he protested his recall, which he said was being sponsored by the state government with N1.2bn.


Midway into his address, gunshots were heard in the crowd, as some gunmen stormed the venue brandishing guns and different types and cutlasses with everyone scampering for safety. Senator Melaye's security men quickly shielded him, as the gun battle reportedly lasted for over an hour between supporters of both sides.


Senator said: “Two of my vehicles severally were damaged with gunshots. The attackers are Government House police with some criminals accompanied by the caretaker chairman of Lokoja Government Area and one Abdullah Dollar, who is a special assistant to the governor.


"I can’t say if anyone died but two people with gunshot wounds are presently receiving treatment and a car was burnt to ashes. I cannot be muted as I must continue to speak for the traumatised civil servants and pensioners of Kogi State.”


Dr Isa Muhammed, the rector of the polytechnic, said he was surprised to see some of his students gathered in front of the school in the morning. He added that  he was told that they were there to receive the senator and every effort to advise them otherwise fell on deaf ears.


The rector expressed regret that the attack consumed one of his students, Saka Seidu. He, however, blamed the police for not responding promptly to his distress call before the protest commenced.


Kogi State police commissioner Wilson Inalevu, however, said the force was not informed about the protest, faulting the senator for not giving them notice before staging it. He said it was the nearest police division that came to the scene following the message received from the rector.


Governor Bello blamed Senator Melaye for the violence in a bid to thwart his constituents’ ongoing attempt to recall him from the senate. He said Senator Melaye is notorious for violence and advised him to respect his constituents’ freedom to exercise their constitutional rights.