Tension is mounting in Kaduna State following the bitter rivalry between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Party (APC) in the state ahead of the elections.
The high point of the rivalry was the stoning of Governor Mukhtar Yero’s convoy on Monday in Birnin-Gwari and Udawa during his campaign rally, allegedly by the supporters of the APC.
Upon the governor’s return to Kaduna city, some people alleged to be APC members were said to have booed the governor around the Panteka and Bakin Ruwa areas of the city as they chanted “Ba Mu so” (we don’t want) as the governor’s convoy was passing by.
However, at Bakin Ruwa, another group believed to be PDP supporters reacted by attacking vehicles, motorcycles and tricycles (Keke NAPE) carrying APC stickers.
Campaign billboards of the APC presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and the APC governorship candidate in the state, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai in the area including Kabala West were destroyed by the angry mob.
Several people were said to have sustained injuries during the incident which caused panic among residents in the affected areas.
The APC at press conference over the incident yesterday in Kaduna, accused Yero and the PDP for allegedly promoting violence.
Senator Sani Sale who addressed the press conference on behalf of the party, maintained that the governor should be held responsible for the fracas.
“We make bold to say that responsibility for the mayhem, injuries and the loss of lives and property rest squarely on Yero and his PDP government,” Sale added.
According to him, Yero had during the launch of his campaign last month, incited his supporters to violence “apart from threatening the property, liberty and freedom of movement of El-Rufai, our candidate for the governorship of this state.”
Sale said the response of the APC to such incitements “was to ask our supporters not to respond to provocations.”
He disclosed that the APC has written to alert the National Human Rights Commission and representatives of the international community to “this blatant instance of hate speech.”
He said further that the APC Kaduna State campaign secretariat had taken several steps to discharge its responsibility to preserve peace in the state so that campaigns and the elections can take place in a competitive but calm atmosphere.
“Despite the fact that our campaign itinerary had long been concluded, with a zonal rally for Kaduna Central fixed for Kaduna last Saturday, 31 January 2015, we delayed the conclusion of our Zone 2 tour last week once we learnt that the PDP had scheduled a presidential rally for the same day.
“We followed up the suspension of campaign activities in Kaduna by running massive radio announcements to advise our supporters to stay off the streets during the PDP’s rally to avoid being the victims of the callous shoot-at-sight order given to soldiers and security agents.
“We also shifted our campaign activities to Zone 3, three days earlier than scheduled, precisely to deny and frustrate the PDP’s plan to unleash violence and blame it on us.
“You can therefore imagine our outrage that Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero yesterday supervised hoodlums and thugs on a rampage against people and properties.
“It is bad enough that his entourage attacked and destroyed billboards of General Muhammadu Buhari and Malam Nasir El-Rufai in the Bakin Ruwa and Kabala West areas of Kaduna, the state capital.
“It is worse that residents who challenged this act of wanton vandalisation were attacked and beaten by the thugs. It is worst that Yero was in the motorcade as his henchmen attacked persons and property with a ferocity that claimed lives.
“Yero’s security detail got in the unfortunate action, shooting at citizens who happened to be in the area.
“Election is a civilised contest and we cannot allow Yero to turn his impending defeat into an inferno for everyone.
“We call on the good people of Kaduna State to remain calm and avoid any provocation. We will insist that this election is conducted in an atmosphere of peace and orderliness,” the APC chieftain said.