RIVERS RERUN | PDP, APC disagree over arrest of INEC ad hoc staff

THE Rivers State chapters of the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress on Thursday engaged each other in a war of words over an allegation that a Special Police team from Abuja had arrested 21 ad hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission over the December 10 rerun election.

While the state PDP alleged that the Nigeria Police Force had become the security arm of the APC, the opposition party in the state said it would not join the PDP in the war against security agencies.

The state Chairman of the PDP, Chief Felix Obuah, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt on Thursday, raised the alarm that the 21 ad hoc staff of INEC were arrested and detained by the operatives of the State Criminal Investigative Department in the state.

Obuah said in the statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Jerry Needam, that those arrested were INEC ad hoc staff, who covered areas where the PDP candidates won, adding that they (INEC ad hoc staff) were later moved to Abuja.

He pointed out that the arrests were made 24 hours after the panel set up by the Inspector-General of Police to investigate the alleged violence during the December 10, 2016 rerun visited the state Governor, Nyesom Wike.

“Information available to the PDP, Rivers State, confirmed that 21 ad hoc staff of INEC, who took part in the legislative rerun election in the state and served in areas where candidates of the PDP won, were last night arrested and detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department, in Port Harcourt,” the statement read.

The state PDP chairman added that those arrested were being forced to confess receiving money from the governor, his party and its candidates, even as he claimed that more arrests would be made.

He said, “This latest development undoubtedly, is a confirmation of the fact that the Police committee led by its chairman, Mr. Damain Okoro, that arrived in the state yesterday, Wednesday, January 11, 2017, is on a mission of witch-hunt against the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, the PDP leadership and candidates of the party, who emerged victorious in the December 10, rerun election in Rivers State.

“It is unfortunate that the police under the current Inspector-General of Police, have so abused their constitutional responsibilities and have now turned into a security arm of a political party, the All Progressives Congress.”

Reacting, the state Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Chris Finebone, maintained that despite the party’s resolve to stay clear of the state governor and the PDP war against security agencies, Wike and his party appeared determined to drag it (APC) into the fray of a war they would not be able to win.

“The APC notes with shock that the Rivers PDP in a statement signed by Jerry Needam on behalf of the PDP state Chairman, Felix Obuah, is accusing the Nigeria Police of becoming the security arm of APC. This is a joke taken too far by every decent standard in politics.

“We recall that in the same press statement, the PDP accused the Nigeria Police of arresting 21 ad hoc staff of INEC, who took part in the legislative re-run election in the state.

“While the APC will not attempt to speak for the Nigeria Police, we wish to state that the PDP is simply crying wolf and this is typical of them and therefore, not surprising to many.

“We do not see why the PDP should be too worried that ad hoc staff of INEC or indeed anybody is invited by the Nigeria Police to assist it on any issue. How that becomes a source of worry for the PDP is baffling to us.

“Could it be a confirmation of our long-held suspicion that the PDP smuggled their members into the INEC ad hoc staff list in order to do their bidding?

“Or could the investigation of the ad hoc staff possibly lead to the unravelling of possible extent and dimensions of compromise of INEC officials by Governor Nyesom Wike and the PDP, hence the apprehension and false alarm,” Finebone queried in his response.

The state APC, however, called on the Nigeria Police and other security agencies not to be deterred by Wike’s antics and empty threats describing such as his stock-in-trade.

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