Nigeria Police operatives arrested over Rivers election fraud, violence

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Police officers suspected to have been involved in misconducts during the Rivers legislative rerun elections have been arrested, the Force spokesperson, Don Awunah, has told PREMIUM TIMES.

The Independent National Electoral Commission conducted elections across 21 constituencies in Rivers State on Saturday.

But the exercise has remained uncompleted with results from five constituencies yet undeclared, five days after the polls held.

The elections were characterised by irregularities and widespread violence that claimed lives, including those of police officers.

Reports from observers groups have accused the INEC, military and police of taking part in the crisis.

Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday, the police public relations officer, Mr. Awunah confirmed the suspected culpability of some police officers in the election violence.

He said some police suspects had been arrested, but did not give figures of those detained.

He said the officers were suspected to have been compromised by politicians.

“All of them will be brought to book,” said Mr. Awunah when asked if the police would go as far as arresting to politicians. He said those who have immunity would be spared.

He said the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had been involved in election management in Liberia and East Timor on UN assignment, and “there is no way he will not be able to deal with crisis in Nigeria’s election because those places are tougher”.

He said the IG was determined to bring all culprits to book because the police was the worst hit in the violence.

“We are the only one that suffered casualty gruesomely,” he said. He disclosed that a panel had been set up to investigate all that happened in Rivers during the elections, including the alleged misconducts of officers and the murder of officers.

Mr. Awunah also said five suspected cultists engaged to unleash violence and snatch election materials were arrested.

He said the suspects had been brought to Abuja to avoid interference, and that one had confessed to being hired by the House of Representatives member-elect from Asari-Toru/Akuku-Toru federal constituency, Boma Goodhead.

However, Mr. Awunah denied that the head of Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, in River State, Akin Fakorede, was involved in unleashing violence on INEC staff at a collation centre.

Mr. Fakorede is seen in a video at a collation centre as violence erupted. The Peoples Democratic Party said he was there to harass INEC officials and force concocted results on them on behalf of the All Progressives Congress.

But Mr. Awunah said Mr. Fakorede was actually there to protect the INEC officials.

“The cameraman was mischievous. You could see the INEC woman holding him (Mr. Fakorede) and saying ‘please protect me’. You could see the ballot papers on the table are intact. He was there to protect INEC from hoodlums.

“And some people were circulating the video to disgrace people who refused to be compromised,” Mr. Awunah said.

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