From Tony Osauzo, Benin
A security joint operation involving the Army, Department of State Security (DSS) and the Police, has arrested nine persons, including a military officer said to be on Absent Without Leave (AWOL).
The suspects who reportedly claimed to be journalists in the state to cover the September 28 governorship election, were said to have been arrested by security operatives at a hotel in Benin City on Wednesday night.
The arrest of the suspects currently in the custody of the DSS, followed a tip-off that the men who posed as journalists were in the state to perpetrate mayhem during the rescheduled gubernatorial election scheduled for Wednesday next week.
Sources said the military officer among the suspects who was in possession of different types of identification cards, including military ID cards, had been on the wanted list of the Army in the past one year for a yet to be ascertained offence.
Controversy had trailed the arrest when some politicians went to secure their bail, claiming they were journalists who were in the state for the coverage of the election.
The security operatives were, however, said to have insisted that they were not journalists since none of them was able to receive any sympathy from the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) or provide any evidence that they were journalists.
Reacting to the arrest, the Director of Media of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Governorship Campaign Council, Senator Domingo Obende, said: “this has further exposed PDP’s plot to unleash mayhem in this state ahead the election. We have been raising this alarm that the PDP never wanted election.”
they only want violence but they thought we were raising false alarm.
“We are happy that our security agents have been up and doing and we appeal to them to ensure that they mop up all the militants they brought into the state so we can have a hitch free election. We have said it severally, APC is ready for this election but they must not come and kill our people. PDP must not see this election as a do or die affair because if it’s losing, they have lost the election already. So they should not kill any body”, Sen. Obende said.
Meanwhile, a Magistrate Court in Fugar, Etsako Central Local Government Area of Edo State, has remanded one Alhaji Nakowa Suleiman, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Mr. Effong Akpan, an electoral officer attached to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in Auchi Prison for alleged abduction of two Youth Corps members during the recent Voters Registration Exercise.
The duo who are facing a three-count charge of abduction, aiding and abetting, were alleged to have abducted two Youth Corps members, Matthew Omaji and Grace Adah, diverted the registration machine to the residence of the PDP leader, where the two Corps members were coerced to register people illegally.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Consequently, Magistrate Abibor Emmanuel remanded them in Auchi Prison pending when a new date would be fixed to hear the their bail application.