By Isaac Job, Uyo
Contrary to speculations that the police arrested 400 political thugs prior to the postponed presidential election in Akwa Ibom, the state police command has dismissed such rumours admitting that only 41 persons were arrested at Angellyn hotel without linking them to any political party in the state.
The police also disclosed that 179 permanent voters’ card and 27 temporary voters’ card were seized in two different operations while 41 persons claiming to be election observers but had no evidence were arrested.
Addressing a press conference at the state Police Headquarters, Ikot Akpan in Uyo yesterday, the Commissioner of Police in Akwa Ibom, Bashir Makama represented by Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Odiko Mcdon also disclosed 10 persons allegedly involved in killing of one person and burning of 11 buses closed to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at Obot Akara Council Area during postponed presidential election.
Mcdon further explained that though hoodlums set ablaze the INEC office in Eastern Obolo local government area, the police was able to put out the fire and that all the INEC materials were intact.
He mentioned weapons retrieved from the 10 suspects to include two locally made short guns, 25 live cartridges, weed suspected to be Indian hemp, two machetes, charms, human hairs, dead bird, knife, scissors, hot drink, two axes and phones.
He announced that the suspects would be transferred to the Force Criminal Investigation department for further investigation and urged politicians to abide by the rules and advice their supporters to conduct themselves peacefully during the elections.
The CP said the police in the state is non partisan, noting that they would act professionally at all times in line with international best practices and will remain neutral and committed to free, fair and credible elections.
“On the eve of the 2019 general elections, at about 10.05pm, hoodlums at Obot Akara LGA, close to the INEC office, machete and killed one person whose identity is unknown, burnt 11 buses and vandalized two. The command acted swiftly and arrested 10 persons in connection with the crime.
“On February 15, 2019, the command arrested a total of 41 persons at Angellyne Guest hotel, Osongama, Uyo who came from Bayelsa, Delta and Ondo states.
The said persons claimed to be in the state as observers for the 2019 general elections but could not give any proper identity of themselves and had no INEC identification either.
“On February 15, 2019, a total of 20 persons were arrested at Ukanafun who were brought from Rivers State by Uduak Ezekiel Dick ‘m’ of Ikot Akpan Nkuk who lured them into the state on the pretext of attending a burial of Lance Corporal of Udo Essien of the Nigerian Army.
“On February 17, 2019, the command arrested one Anietie Peter in Mkpat Enin in possession of 34 voters card, while on February 3, 2019, personnel of Nigerian Navy intercepted one Stephen Gad ‘m’ in Eastern Obolo in possession of one locally made double barrel pistol, 145 PVCs and 27 Temporary voters card,” he said.
One of the 41 arrested suspects, Okoroda Ken from Bayelsa State said they were arrested in Angellyne hotel by 3am on Friday, 15th February, 2019 where they lounged, adding that they were yet to reach their coordinator who booked the hotel for them.
He said, “We all submitted our passport to Society for Advancement for Credible Leadership and Observation. This organisation is registered and credited by INEC. Since we submitted our passport, we were told our names were submitted to INEC and that we will likely monitor the election in Uyo.
“We came on Thursday to confirm whether our names were there or not. We were in the Angellyne hotel booked for us by the Coordinator of the group, Berefa Bedfon. When we were arrested, all our phones were taken from us and we have not been able to contact anyone. INEC can prove if our names have been registered with them”.