Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Army has said its soldiers engaged in electoral duties in the South-East and South-South parts of the country arrested several suspects involved in electoral malpractices, ranging from ballot box snatching and kidnapping of election officers to other criminal activities in the just-concluded governorship and state assembly elections.
The army, working in conjunction with other security agencies, said most of the suspects were arrested in Rivers, Abia and Imo, among other states.
Acting director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, who made this known in a statement issued late Monday night, said the troops also rescued several kidnap victims, including members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), electoral officers and some politicians in Cross River and Abia states.
He said all the suspects have been handed over to the police for further investigation and prosecution.
Musa’s statement reads: “During the period of the 2019 general election, Nigerian Army (NA) supported the civil police to ensure a secure and peaceful conduct of the elections across the nation. Despite pockets of crisis witnessed in a few states, the election was conducted in a secure and peaceful atmosphere.
“To achieve this, the NA, in conjunction with other security agencies, struggled to checkmate criminals, kidnappers, political thugs, and ballot box snatchers from having a field day to perpetrate their selfish illegal activities, in some instances, to the detriment of soldiers’ lives as witnessed in Abonnema and Andoni in Rivers State.
“Specific instances abound where kidnappers and other hooligans were intercepted by the personnel of the NA in many parts of Nigeria. For example, around Everyday Super Market in Owerri, Imo State, four impostors in military uniform, woodland camouflage, Mr. Chinedu Odogwu, Longinus Okelue, Oguzie Princewell and Kelvin Samalia, were arrested while escorting a prominent female politician in a political party’s vehicle.
“This development further reaffirmed NA’s earlier warning to members of the public of the activities of some unscrupulous individuals that sponsor thugs to defend and further their selfish political objectives.
“Accordingly, 34 Brigade troops, on Operation Safe Conduct, deployed around Osisioma junction, Abia State, also arrested Mr. Allwell Enwereji and five others conveying already thumb-printed ballot papers in his vehicle.
“On questioning, he claimed the ballot papers were specimens for campaign. Investigation is on to ascertain the culpability of the suspects.
“Similarly, troops on patrol around power plant substation, Odukpani LGA, in Cross River State, rescued Mr. Authur Nkama, who was earlier kidnapped at Ikot Ansa, in Calabar Municipal Area Council, Cross River State.
“Troops also intercepted and arrested suspected ballot box snachers at Air Force junction near Ngor Okpala Local Government Area in Imo State on March 9.”