Police parade suspected electoral offenders in Cross River

by Amos Kalu

The Police Command in Cross River on Saturday paraded 16 suspects arrested for various alleged electoral offences in the Ogoja Local Government Area of the state.

The Command spokesperson, SP Irene Ugbo, who addressed newsmen while parading them, said the suspects were caught with arms and ammunition during their arrest in Ogoja after the polls.

Ugbo stated that the arrest followed a diligent manhunt for those that disrupted some voting centres in the council area during the polls.

“You will recall that the command had issued several warnings to the people not to allow themselves to be used by desperate politicians during the elections and that anyone caught will have himself to blame.

“These people you see here didn’t take our warning seriously and they are some of the people that tried to disrupt the elections in Ogoja last Saturday.

“They were caught with various arms and ammunition in Ogoja and they will be punished in accordance with the law of the land,” she stated.

The command spokesperson alleged that the suspects were found to have worked for a candidate during last Saturday’s elections.

NAN reports that drama, however, ensued during the parade when some of the suspects said they were members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and also vigilantes in their community in Obudu Local Government Area.

They also stated that they were never arrested in Ogoja but in Obudu without knowledge of the offence they committed.

One of the suspects, Mr Francis Ubi who claimed to be a coordinator of the APC in his polling unit in Obudu, explained how they were randomly picked by the soldiers in Obudu a day before the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

According to him, “We were brought here on trumped-up charges. I do not belong to any group or political party other than the APC where I coordinate my polling unit in Obudu.

“As I speak with you, over N500,000 was paid into my account to coordinate my unit during the elections and I am also a member of the vigilante. I have five others of my members here who were also arrested.

“While I was arrested in my house in Obudu, others were arrested at a checkpoint in Obudu while on duty.

“Where they were arrested was approved for us to be keeping security by the council chairman who also approved the use of specific guns for us.

“I don’t understand what is happening. Those are being paraded with us I don’t know any of them and only came to meet them here as we are being paraded.

“We (Vigilante) have been the ones keeping Obudu safe because of the level of insecurity there in recent times. We don’t understand what we are being accused of.”

Ubi said after his arrest, he was taken to army barracks at Ogoja where he spent days before being brought to Police Command in Calabar on Friday.

But Ugbo insisted the suspects would be arraigned in court next week.

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