The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State has decried the alleged arrest of 21 ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the police.
The party lamented that the arrest was effected less than 24 hours after a 15-man panel set up by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to investigate the alleged violence during the December 10, 2016 re-run election in the state visited Governor Nyesom Wike in Government House, Port Harcourt.
The development, according to the state PDP Chairman, Felix Obuah, confirmed the claim that the police committee led by Mr. Damain Okoro was on a mission to witch-hunt the governor, the PDP leadership and candidates of the party who emerged victorious in the re-run election.
In a swift reaction, however, the state Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chris Finebone, said his party was not aware of the claim of PDP, adding that the investigative panel was set up by the police and not by APC and had been working with the various stakeholders since the members arrived Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
Finebone said if the panel felt that some stakeholders should accompany them to Abuja for further inquiry, “there is nothing wrong about that since no one has been indicted, except that the PDP wants to inform the public those INEC officials are their members.”
When contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Nnamdi Omoni, said he lacked capacity to react on the matter, stressing that it was the Force Public Relations Officer (PRO) that could speak on it, since it had to do with transfer to Abuja.
Speaking further, Obuah said the PDP would have expected the police to be more professional, objective, apolitical and uphold the tenets of the constitution and regulations as contained in the Electoral Act, relating to the role of security agencies in an election.
He, however, expressed regret that the police in the case of Rivers State have allegedly become a tool of witch-hunt by the Federal Government and certain Rivers politicians in the APC.
“Sources disclosed that those arrested were transferred to Abuja in the afternoon of today (yesterday), and they are being forced to confess receiving money from Wike, the PDP and its candidates which the police and the APC alleged was responsible for the victory of the PDP in the re-run election in the State.
“According to the source at the state CID, more arrests would be made and those arrested will be transferred to Abuja and paraded during a press conference that would be organized by the Police High Command, in conjunction with top leaders of the APC.”