Elder Simeon Babani Abuh, widower of late Mrs Salome Acheju Abuh, Woman Leader of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ochadamu Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi, has cried out for justice over the killing of the deceased by political thugs, saying the light of his family has been put out.
The killing of the politician, in the aftermath of the celebration that trailed the re-election of the state governor, Yahaya Bello, in last Saturday’s governorship election, had elicited outrage from Nigerians who described the incident as wicked and inhuman.
Elder Abuh’s reaction came on a day the Police in Kogi State said they were almost at the root of fishing out perpetrators of the killing.
Recounting events that led to his wife’s death in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, he said the attack and murder of his wife on Monday, November 18, 2019, was premeditated, adding that his late wife was resting from an earlier attack she suffered on election day when the house was surrounded and burnt by the thugs, with her inside.
He said: “My attention is being drawn to various stories both offline and online regarding the sorrowful death of my beloved wife, Mrs Salome Acheju Abuh, on Monday, November 18, 2019, which happened at Ochadamu Ofu Local Government area of Kogi State Nigeria.
“I am constrained to set the records straight, despite the heaviness and pain I feel at present. My wife, a devout Christian, a lover of peace who hates anything violent, was a grassroot politician/community leader.
She was a women leader for the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, from the early years of her political career. “She had her first elective position as a councillor in Ofu Local Government Council of Kogi State between 2003 and 2007; she contested for Idah Federal Constituency for House of Representative in 2007 and was the only woman among the contestants.
“She was also a Special Assistant on Grassroot Matters to former Governor Idris Wada. She also contested in the last general elections for the State House of Assembly in 2019, all under the PDP platform.
Until this unfortunate incident, she was an active member of the party, a campaign team member for Engr. Musa Wada and the PDP Woman leader.
“On Saturday, November 16, 2019, at the Ochadamu Primary School polling unit, one of the attackers, in the company of other boys, told me that he was going to deal with my younger brother, Gowon Abuh, who is a strong supporter of the PDP.
“He further said that this election is for the APC and that there was nothing anyone can do about it. I politely told him that there was no need for this, that we are all brothers, that we all drink the same flowing river, went to the same playing ground in the community and that we shall still remain in the community, politics notwithstanding.
“After casting my vote, I headed home, leaving my wife behind to watch the electoral process. After some time, my brother, Gowon, ran back home to inform me that one of the attackers was beating my wife where she was sitting under a shade observing the process and that when he (Gowon Abuh) and other people tried to intervene, he attempted to stab him, and he had to run back home.
“As we were still talking, one Elder Samuel Salami Agbali brought my wife on his motorcycle to our compound and advised that we rush her to hospital.
“I took her to Holy Memorial Hospital, Ochadamu, where she was attended to by one Dr. Agama. She was examined and given some drugs and advised to rest due to the trauma of the attack. After the election, I returned to Abuja where I reside, leaving her behind to rest for a few days as advised by the doctor.
“I was constantly on phone with her. On Monday, November 18, at about 12am, my younger brother in Lokoja, Pst. Mark Abuh, called me that there was trouble at home, that the attacker and others were in a drinking joint close to our house, boasting how they were going to deal with Gowon, our younger brother, who narrowly escaped their attack on Saturday. “According to his report, Solomon, Gowon’s son, overheard him boasting, pleaded with them on his father’s behalf to forget about the incident. At this point, one of them picked up a bottle and started pursing Solomon.
“While pursuing Solomon, he tripped and fell on his own knife which was tied around his waist and unfortunately injured himself on the thigh. “Solomon ran home to inform his father (Gowon Abuh) of what had transpired.
Meanwhile, the injured attacker was rushed to Holy Memorial Hospital at Ochadamu. After the conversation with my brother, Pastor Mark Abuh, I immediately put a call home to Ojonugwa Alhassan, my cousin, who told me he was at the hospital where the injured person was being attended to. “According to him, the hospital, after administering first aid treatment, requested for a police report before further treatment.
While the doctors were waiting for the police report, friends of the injured got agitated and moved him to another hospital where he lost his life.
“When the news of his death filtered into town, angry APC supporters came to the town shooting sporadically. People scampered for their lives and the APC supporters headed to my house where my wife was resting, unaware of what was happening in the community.
“The supporters surrounded my house, shooting sporadically and further set the house ablaze and burnt my wife to death and completely burnt down the entire buildings in my compound.
“Afterwards, the APC supporters headed to four other houses in the community owned by known PDP supporters and burnt them down. “Let me conclude here that the attack on my wife on Saturday and the one carried out on Monday, November 18, 2019, when my wife and mother of my children was resting in our family house, were premeditated.
“I hereby appeal for justice to prevail over this gruesome murder of my wife and loss of properties.”
‘Light of the family put out’
Speaking further in an exclusive interview with Vanguard at his residence in Abuja, Elder Abuh said he had no prior grudge with anyone, wondering why his wife could be gruesomely murdered on account of political differences in a democratic society. He said: “Life has been painful, traumatic, devastating, heavy heart, full of pains. I lack words to describe the situation.
The same feeling pervades the family. Our lives cannot be the same again. Our light has been put off.
“Her presence was electrifying. When she appears, the house would come alive. Now they have killed her. It is like NEPA has taken our light. It is painful. We have four children. As Christians, we leave this to God. We feel bad. We feel insecure. We feel that we will not get justice. I continue to ask why, why, why! “I am nursing the pain with my children. I am not aware if anyone has been arrested. You can see my phone has been off. My wife has gone, she has been burnt alive and we leave justice to God.
“All I am praying is that the cloud be cleared so that I can go and bury my wife. And when I go to bury her, let there be peace. I plead with President Muhammadu Buhari, I plead with the IGP, I plead with the powers that be in Kogi State to clear the cloud for me, so I can go and bury my wife in peace. I am a community man from a peaceful family. We had no issue with anyone.”
On whether anyone has reached out to the family, Elder Abuh said: “No. Nobody has reached out to me except my family and church members, then my lawmaker in the House of Representatives, the former governor, Capt. Idris Wada, and also the PDP candidate, Engr. Musa Wada.”
He asked the government to ensure the killers of his wife were brought to book, so the family could have a closure.
Culprits will be unveiled soon — Police
Meanwhile, the Police in Kogi said yesterday that the arsonists who burnt Mrs Abuh to death will soon be revealed.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. William Anya, said the Police has launched investigation into the arson and would get to the root of the case very soon. Anya, who spoke in Lokoja, said the details of the investigation would not be made public until the process was concluded. ‘Don’t sweep this under the carpet’
Reacting to the incident yesterday, the National Women Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Hajiya Mariya Waziri, urged all stakeholders and the international community to ensure Mrs Abuh’s murder was not swept under the carpet and the perpetrators not allowed to go scot-free.
According to her, failure to unmask and bring her killers to book is a threat to all Nigerians, especially the opposition and women. Warning that the dastardly act must be prevented from becoming the norm, Hajiya Waziri said in a statement: “This beastly act of terror marks the beginning of a political attrition where innocent and vulnerable citizens, especially women, are foreclosed to political participation through intimidation and gruesome murder.
“We, therefore, call on the international community, political observers, stakeholders, citizens, women, youth and all people of conscience to rise, rally and escalate the agitation against this nihilistic plague before it settles as a norm.
“We must arrest this mindless and hideous act of terror before it becomes entrenched in our political motivation. This wind of execution will blow the way of many if not expunged with spiritual urgency.
“The viciousness of this attack speaks for itself. Have we arrived in era of undiluted vicious executions? Have we evolved to a new brand of violence of total obliteration of opposition and vulnerable citizens?
“The perpetrators of this callous murder of a sister, wife, mother, aunt and above all, a human being, must be brought to justice. Nigerian women demand answers regarding the role of military officers conferred with the responsibility to protect lives and properties in Kogi State, in her murder.
“Irrespective of age, gender and political affiliation, we must all stand in solidarity against this new bout of terror before it engulfs us all.”