The police of Imo State said it had arrested 180 persons with voter cards, INEC identity cards, and Independent Observer Identity cards. The arrested people, however, have insisted that they are election observers.
They were arrested at Disney Hotels, along Owerri-Onitsha road, Owerri.
Commissioner of Police of Imo State, Mohammed Katsina, said that the persons came from Osun State and were heading to Anambra for the election.
“They were arrested while waiting to link up with their contacts in Anambra ahead of Saturday’s governorship elections.The suspects were on a mission to breach the peace in the state and will be prosecuted.” Katsina said during a press conference on Thursday.
At a press conference of Thursday, the police reported they recovered two pump action rifles, live ammunition, 15 buses, and other incriminating material from the group.
“The security agents and the command had worked so hard to attain peace and will not allow any politician, no matter how highly placed, to compromise it,” Katsina said.
The suspects, however, said that they are members of the Justice and Equity Organization (JEO) and they had been accredited as observers for the November 16 gubernatorial election in Anambra State. In a statement issued today by the group’s Coordinator, O. Obafunsho, they accused the police of “retrogressive onslaught and repression” of civil society activists and groups officially accredited by INEC ahead of Saturday’s election.
“To ensure efficiency and credible observation, we have organised a pre-election training and briefing session for our Observers. The occasion was also used to distribute election observation paraphernalia to our agents for the Saturday elections. “While this peaceful and unobtrusive process was ongoing, a team of police men, acting ostensibly to protect the interest of some evil minded people swooped on the hotel, arrested all the 180 observers, mobilised by our organisation from across the country and carted away the INEC-provided election observation identification tags among other valuables.
“This urgent public notice therefore became expedient in view of the very reliable information at our disposal, on a planned purported police stage-managed drama, wherein the arrested activists would be paraded as hoodlums and common criminals. “In fact, the Police is set to display some arms and ammunition to press home its chicanery on the intent and gathering of the comrades,” reads the statement.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have immediately started trading blames over the arrested persons. While the PDP accused the APC of sponsoring the “181 heavily armed political thugs,” the latter insisted the police were acting out the script of the former.
In a statement on Friday the PDP’s Spokesperson, Olisa Metuh, said the arrested persons were part of the plot by the APC to disrupt and discredit the election. In its response, the APC described in a statement signed by Lai Mohammed, its interim National Publicity Secretary. the police’s claim that the 180 persons were arrested with arms and fake voter cards as “nothing but tales by moonlight.”
Source: Premium Times, Vanguard