The police are holding 23 Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials for their roles in the Rivers State rerun elections. Besides, the Special Investigation Panel has asked INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to release the agency’s administrative secretaries in Anambra and Plateau states for interrogation.
The police informed INEC of the arrests in two letters to the chairman by the Chairman of the Special Joint Investigation Panel, DCP Damian Okoro. The letters, which were exclusively obtained by The Nation, indicated that “further development will be communicated to INEC chairman.”
The first letter reads in part: “I write to inform you of the arrest of the under-listed staff of the commission who served in the 10th December 2016 Rivers State National/State Legislative re-run elections.
“The names of the officers and present posting are: Ewatade P. Taiwo (Oyo); Aminu Karimu (Oyo); Adedokun Najeem Ayotunde (Oyo); Balogun Funmilayo (Oyo); Agams O. Kadiri (Oyo); Akinwande R. Adesoji(Oyo); Lukeman Olabimpe(Oyo); Tiamiyu R. Arowolo(Oyo); Akinwoye Amodu A (Anambra) and Iro Abali Mba(Anambra).
“Others are Enuke Patrick(Anambra); Nwosu Oluchi G.(Anambra); Arukwe Chinelo(Anambra); Henry Owokure(Anambra); Nwoha Yusuf(Anambra); Hussaina Yahaya Tanko(Plateau); Gayus Hassan(Plateau); Ivase Stephen Aondona(Plateau); Abdullahi Ogabo(Plateau); Gwatana Jibril Joseph( Plateau); and Mohammed L. Sittu(Plateau).”
The second letter, which is dated January 16, 2017, states: “My earlier letter dated 13th January 2017 in respect of the arrest of 21 electoral officers who served as Electoral Officers in the 10th December 2016 Rivers State National/ State Legislative re-run elections refers.
“I wish to inform you that Mrs. Mary Tunkoyo, the electoral officer at Emohua LGA and Mr. James Ogwuche who served as electoral officer at Ahoada West LGA are also in custody of the panel.
“More so, in the course of the investigation, the need to seek certain clarification/information from the Administrative Secretaries of Anambra and Plateau states has become imperative.
“You are kindly requested to inform and release the two officers for interview at the Special Joint Investigation Panel at Commissioners Lounge, Ground Floor, Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, Abuja.”
“The panel is questioning some of those invited.
“One key area of investigation which led to the invitation of the electoral officers borders on alleged bribery of poll officers, interference with voting process by politicians and outright snatching of ballot boxes. These electoral officers are at advantage in giving more insights into what happened during the re-run elections,” a source said, adding:
“So far, all the officers are innocent until the investigation panel establishes any case beyond reasonable doubt against them.” The 15-man panel, headed by DCP Damien Okoro, comprises the police and the Department of State Services (DSS) with investigative, forensic and technical experts.
“The panel is to
• Conduct a thorough investigation into the role of security agents before, during and after the election;
• examine the role of any police officer or security agent whose actions or activities individually or collectively was detrimental to the good conduct of the elections;
• conduct a forensic analysis on the audio report released by Sahara Reporters as it concerns the election.
• examine any other matter that is relevant to the conduct of the elections, and make recommendations and implementation strategies to guide future elections.’
But Wike on Monday approached the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court for an order stopping the probe. In the ex-parte motion by his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome( SAN,), Wike prayed the court to “restrain the defendants or their agents from enforcing or executing matters contained in a letter the IGP wrote to Wike on December 20, 2016 on the probe”.