MRS Salome Acheju Abuh, a 60-year-old mother of three men and one woman, never expected to be burnt to death. If she had known that death was lurking behind her home in Ochadamu, Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State, she would have returned to Abuja with her husband.
At her polling unit on the governorship election day, a suspected political thug was said to have marched to where she was seated, dealt her a heavy slap and kicked the chair from under her. Her husband rushed her to the hospital. When she recovered, he asked that they returned to their base. She opted out. As the Woman Leader of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the area, she was said to have been optimistic that her party would upstage Governor Yahaya Bello. She did not like to miss the moment.
But victory never came her party’s way and she was also ‘sacrificed’ by agents of death. Her home was set on fire. She is believed to have been killed before the house and her body were burnt on Monday.
A first cousin to the deceased, Mrs. Ruth Acheme, said the sponsors of her killers were spreading rumours to cover up.
Speaking with The Nation in Lokoja, Mrs. Acheme said her cousin’s remains were burnt to near ashes, and that they were only able to retrieve a part of her burnt skull, which they packed in readiness for her internment today.
She said: “They claim that some of the louts were from Ibaji. The husband (also a retiree from the Presidency) pressured her that they should go to Abuja together on Sunday, but she persisted, saying PDP would win the election and she wanted to be on the ground. Even her younger sister called from Ajaka and said: ‘What are you doing there?’ But, she said, ‘If you people are afraid,’ she was not afraid of anything, and it was that day that they killed her and burnt her body.
“They came inside and packed her belongings and loaded them into their Sienna bus and another smaller car.
“One of her younger brothers came from Ogwalawo, but he was advised to go to the police station. It was after that we went with the police.
“The police passed by us to other houses that were burnt; five in all, belonging to PDP members.
“The member of the House of Representatives came to inspect the scene of the crime, he met us under the cashew tree where we stood, and together, we went to the house.
“There was little of the head and chest, they packed the whole thing in a cloth before they went to buy casket in Anyingba. It was the Rep (Hon. Zachariah) that gave us N50,000 to buy the casket.”
She added that the state government was yet to reach out to the family.
In Ochadamu, frightened residents who ran away from the town are beginning to return. A resident, who witnessed what happened, spoke glowingly of the late Mrs Abuh, who was a councillor in the 80s.
Speaking under the condition of anonymity, he said: “They pursued everyone in the village. We were chased out of the village, and it’s just today (Wednesday) that we returned. The family came yesterday and took the body. It was completely burnt.”
An era ends as her remains are interred today. Will Kogi politics ever be without bitterness?