The Police in Akwa Ibom have arrested 63 suspected political thugs, including some who were arrested over the pre-election violence in the Obot-Akara Local Government Area of the state.
It was gathered that some of the suspects were hired from Bayelsa, Delta and Ondo states by desperate politicians.
The suspects were paraded at the command’s headquarters in Uyo, by the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Bashir Makama.
According to him, 41 of the suspects claimed claimed to be election observers, and were apprehended on Friday, February 15, 2019, in a hotel in Uyo.
He added that a locally-made gun, 25 live cartridges, two machetes, charms, a knife, phones, human hair, two axes and Permanent Voter Cards were some of the items recovered from the suspects.
He said the suspects could not produce identity cards issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission or properly identify themselves.
The Police commissioner, who was represented at the briefing by the command’s Public Relations Officer, Odiko MacDon, said 20 other suspects were arrested on the same day at the Ukanafun Local Government Area of the state.
He explained that the suspects were earlier brought in from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, by one Uduak Dick, on the pretext of attending the burial ceremony of a Lance Corporal in the Nigerian Army, Udo Essien.
Some of the suspects were also responsible for igniting fire at the INEC office at the Eastern Obolo Local Government Area of the state.
MacDon noted that one Anietie Peters, from the Mkpat-Enin Local Government Area of the state, was apprehended on Friday in possession of 34 PVCs, while one Ayaya Bassey and Asuquo Ebio, who were apprehended at the Ikot-Ekpene Local Government Area, had confessed to be thugs hired by a politician from Cross River State.
He said, “The command, on February 12, also killed two suspected killers of one Anthony Ikechuwu, a pharmacist, who was shot dead by hoodlums at the St. Michael Primary School, Abak Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
“The victim’s Lexus SUV with number plate, AKD 850 DS, has been recovered. The suspects were traced to their hideout in Aba, Abia State. They were killed in a gun duel with members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad from Akwa Ibom State, while a locally-made revolver pistol with four live cartridges was recovered from the suspects.”
“Let me use this opportunity to call on politicians to play the game by the rules. Let me assure you that the non-partisan nature of the police in Akwa Ibom State will not change; we will remain apolitical, neutral and committed to free, fair and credible elections. We will at all times act professionally based on international best practices,” Makama added.
Okoroda Ken, one of the 41 suspects, who claimed to be from Bayelsa State, said he and his colleagues were arrested at the Angellyne Hotel around 3am on February 15.
“We all submitted our passports to the Society for the Advancement of Credible Leadership and Observation. This organisation is registered with and credited by INEC. Since we submitted our passports, we were told that our names were submitted to INEC and that we would likely monitor the elections in Uyo.
“We came on Thursday to confirm whether our names were there or not. We were in the Angellyne Hotel, which was 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 confirm if our names have been registered with them.”